Yarra Valley Wine Region in Victoria: Wine Tasting Notes

By Jeni Port
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1. Allinda Riesling

The Yarra Valley makes riesling? Yes, indeed, and a very fine one too from Al Fencaros at Allinda. Al regards the limey-floral nature of this wine typical of Yarra Valley riesling, but with so few around we'll have to take his word for it. Marvellously fragrant with aromatic spicy notes it moves into dusty citrus and limes combined with some mid-palate sweetness. Soft, dry and delicate.

Allinda Winery: 119 Lorimers Lane, Dixons Creek. Phone 5965 2450. Open Thrs-Mon 10.30am-5pm.

2. Chandon Sparkling Pinot Noir/Shiraz

French-owned Chandon has used the Champagne template (chardonnay, pinot noir) in its pursuit of sparkling wine success in Australia, so when it came to make a sparkling red, it did so with plenty of French-inspired ingenuity. This is how a Frenchman might approach our national indigenous sparkling red with a fair splash of some robust and ripe shiraz toned down and softened with plenty of blackberry rich pinot noir.

Chandon: Maroondah Highway, Coldstream. Phone 9739 1110 Open daily 10.30am-4.30pm.

3. Dominique Portet Sauvignon Blanc

The former Taltarni wine maker was always a wiz with sauvignon blanc but it was only after Dominique moved to the Valley in 2000 that we began to see a more refined - and food friendly - style. This is a sophisticated savvy with 15 per cent fermented in new French oak. It boasts a lively perfume of citrus blossom followed by soft herbals and hay and plenty of mid-palate richness.

Dominique Portet: 870-72 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream. Phone 5962 5760. Open daily 10am-5pm.

4. Evelyn County Black Paddock Merlot

It is one of the joys of autumn to sit on the decking of Evelyn County's Black Paddock restaurant with a glass of merlot. It's easy to see why merlot is an everyman wine. Evelyn County merlot (made by Valley wine maker James Lance) plays up the fruit sweetness, the softness, the utter drinkability of the grape with no apologies to those who castigate it for those very same qualities.

Evelyn County Estate: 55 Eltham-Yarra Glen Road, Kangaroo Ground. Phone 9437 2155. Open daily from 11 am.

5. Luke Lambert Nebbiolo

New generation Valley wine makers like Luke Lambert are exploring different styles of old favourites. Take his 'syrah' or shiraz which he models on the rustic wines of the Rhone Valley. The 30 year old maker has packed a lot of experience into his wine making and confidently presents a different brooding expression of Valley fruit: earth, dried herbs, pepper, aniseed. Definitely a wild one.

Luke Lambert Wines: 24 Oliver Street, Yarra Glen. Phone 9730 2944. Barrel tastings and cellar door sales available by appointment.

6. Punt Road MVN Chardonnay

Former Seppelt wine maker Kate Goodman is hitting major runs at Punt Road. Her MVN chardonnay is a new flagship wine showcasing the Valley's undeniable fruit power and concentration. The nose is strong in mineral notes with a Chablis-like flintiness against background stone fruits. The palate is finely-textured with more of those juicy pears, citrus and nectarine with a light dusting of vanillan oak. 

Punt Road Wines: 10 St. Huberts Road, Coldstream. Phone 9739 0666. Open daily 10am-5pm.

7. Toolangi Reserve Chardonnay

Everything you hear about Toolangi reserve chardonnay is true. It's rich, it's complex, it's destined to be one of the great chardonnays of Australia. The wine is made by chardonnay maestro Rick Kinzbrunner of Giaconda fame and shows his hallmark Burgundian style. The wine opens with a heady perfume of white peaches, pears and nuts and follows through with a stunning mineral and fruit intensity on the palate. Rich and textural.

Toolangi: 349 Pauls Lane, Dixons Creek. Phone 9822 9488.

8. Warramate Pinot Noir

The recent passing of Warramate patriarch and founder Jack Church sees his son David now as chief executive and wine maker. David is carrying on the Warramate style which is generally under-stated, reserved and never oak-driven. His pinot noir is upfront with a strong perfume of raspberries and boiled lollies followed by macerated cherries and red fruits on the palate. What gives it real interest is the intermingling of dusty beets and an earthiness.

Warramate: 27 Maddens Lane, Gruyere. Phone 5964 9219. Open daily 10am-6pm.

9. Wedgetail Estate Single Vineyard Shiraz

If makers can add viognier to shiraz, why not semillon? Guy Lamothe has been exploring the different contributions that a dash of semillon (two per cent in the '04) can add to shiraz, noting that he particularly likes the firm acid and herbal notes. He makes his shiraz similarly to pinot noir, so expect a medium-bodied savoury-influenced wine with lots of soft, juicy flavors but still showing some tell-tale cool climate pepperiness.

Wedgetail Estate: 40 Hildebrand Road, Cottles Bridge. Phone 9714 8661. Open Sat-Sun 11.30am-5.30am.

10. Yering Station MVR

Marsanne, viognier and roussanne (MVR) are the main white grape varieties of France's Rhone Valley but they never get this chummy back at home. Wine maker Tom Carson thought blending them altogether might make a pleasant drinking wine. He was wrong. It makes a great drinking wine. Marsanne provides the honeysuckle fragrance and the acidity. Viognier brings a luxuriously silky and textural middle palate while roussanne provides the solid structure and foundation. 

Yering Station: 38 Melba Highway, Yarra Glen. Phone 9730 0100. Open Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat-Sun 10am-6pm.

© Jeni Port 2006

(excerpt from The Age, September 16, 2006)


  • Yarra Valley (Wine) (VIC)

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