Posts Tagged ‘Bill Dhillon

04
Nov
10

moment of grace

I think Romain was right. It started with the curve of the hill.

It had a subliminal effect on me. I just didn’t know it when we drove up to Michael Dhillon’s winery, Bindi. The first thing that struck me was the impressive amount of kangaroos grazing silently just meters away from the buildings. I mean tens, dozens. The Aborigines have a deep connection to the land – secret sites, sacred spaces in the heartland of Australia. Maybe the kangaroos have it too.

The vineyard was planted by Michael’s father, Bill, some 20 years ago. It was an imperative, a calling, a task set to him by someone dear. The chardonnay and pinot noir vines have pushed their roots through the quartz fragments and the wine made from their fruit proved to be a bit of a revelation.

In the barrel room, the spotlights have been laid on the floor, hidden behind the barriques. Their light projects towards the ceiling and gives the impression that we have just stepped into a sanctuary. Without realizing it, I think we all lowered our voices. Then, complete silence fell on the group as we started tasting his Composition and Quartz chardonnays, followed by the Composition and Original Vineyard pinot noirs. The whites are airy, diaphanous and have a racy elegance. The reds are light, complex and show bright red fruit and notes of spice. Liquid geography? A light rain started while we were tasting and softly drummed on the corrugated steel roof.

As we came out and gathered around the dinner tables, we were poured a glass of 2003 sparkling wine. It has a burnished gold color, a soft creamy effervescence and rich, exuberant aromas. I sipped my glass in Bill’s company, the wise old man with a sparkle in his eyes. I asked him what his career was and not happy with the simplicity of my question, he decided to sum up his life in less than two minutes, including the planting of the vineyard, Michael’s birth, the loss of his wife and ‘here we are tonight’. I was caught off guard. I used to think that death was part of life, something that had to be accepted. And it is. But I lost my father five years ago and only then realized how painful death is for those who stay behind. I’ve become a real sap ever since and my guts turn to porridge every time I hear of someone’s loss.

Dinner was ready and so we sat. Michael stood. He thanked his wife Wendy for the dinner we were about to enjoy. He thanked his father, without whom none of this would have been possible. He thanked his long-time friend Cameron who was joining us at the table. And then he thanked us for being there. I mean, seriously. He makes some of the most fabulous wines in Australia and he was thanking us for being there…

My favourite feeling in the world – and believe me, I’ve given this some thought – is sitting in good company and having had just a bit of food, and having sipped a bit of wine. My stomach is content, yet not full. My head spins a bit but I’m not drunk. That’s when I usually lean on the back of my seat, sigh, and think that Life is amazing and that I’m lucky to have the choice of going through it the way I do.

And here I was, sitting at Bindi. I had sensed something upon arriving. I had been softened by the still wines, elevated by the sparkling one, touched by both Bill and Michael. I was a vessel of joy. The food was delicious, the company pleasant. I was overwhelmed. I stood up during dinner, walked into the darkness and cried. Twice.

When I came back the second time, I noticed Lisa and Romain’s eyes were red as well. I was not the only one touched by so much generosity, by such humanity.

Wendy. Bill. Michael. Thank you!

 

 

 

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