Wine Tasting Yarra Valley, Victoria

Yarra Valley Wine Tasting

“This pinot noir rose tastes a bit like my sense of humour.
It is dry but sharp with a clean finish.”

~ Chopinand, co-author of ChopinandMysaucepan

~~~~~~~~O~~~~~~~~

What are the elements that make a wine tasting escapade so enticing to wine lovers? Obviously the prospect of twirling, sniffing and tasting a seemingly endless amount of that red and white elixir is one.

A shiraz may be music to a wine buff. But it is hardly razzamatazz when it looks and tastes as boring as fermented grape juice to the uninitiated.

Of all the major wine growing regions in Australia, Victoria’s Yarra Valley is the closest to the state’s capital city of Melbourne. Indeed, Melburnians can hit the wine trail and taste wine within a mere 45-minute drive from the city.

So, as I head off from Ivanhoe in Melbourne’s north with my friends Molly and KC at 8 o’clock on this cold and windy Sunday morning, we find ourselves wandering around the vineyards in Yarra Valley shortly before nine o’clock.

(You can download a an official copy of Yarra Valley map to guide you through this wine tasting.)

~~~~~

Music with wine

Symphony No.2 in E minor Opus 27  by Sergei Rachmaninoff

(Listening tip: Use a set of good headphones)

Rachmaninoff‘s beautiful Symphony No. 2 in E minor Opus 27 reminds me of the unpredictable and often whimsical climate of Victoria state in Australia.

The music is serene as it begins with a beautiful clarinet solo that eventually leads the piece into dark and mysterious passages.

Throughout our day-long trip to the Yarra Valley, there were sunny periods with glorious blue skies, strong winds with threatening grey clouds and rain. Similarly in this beautiful symphony, there are stormy and tumultuous periods that alternate with glimpses of sunlight and tranquility. It was indeed the colours I saw and sounds I heard as I wandered through the beautiful vineyards of the Yarra.

So put on a set of good headphones, pour yourself a glass of wine and let me take you across this beautiful wine-growing region in Australia.

~~~~~

De Bortoli Wines

Vineyards at De Bortoli Wines, Yarra Valley

Vineyards at De Bortoli Wines, Yarra Valley

I first visited  the Yarra Valley in 1998 and De Bortoli Wines was among the vineyards that I saw.

De Bortoli Wines, Yarra Valley

De Bortoli Wines, Yarra Valley

This is a third generation vineyard which was established by Vittorio and Giuseppina De Bortoli in 1928.

The couple emigrated to Australia from the mountain villages at the foothills of the Italian Alps, near the historic town of Asolo.

Vineyards at De Bortoli Wines, Yarra Valley

Vineyards at De Bortoli Wines, Yarra Valley

Their son, Deen De Bortoli (1936 – 2003) expanded the business created by his parents. Deen’s children established De Bortoli’s reputation for premium wine including the iconic Noble One dessert wine.

It is still only nine o’clock this Sunday morning and too early to taste wine. In any case, the cellar door is not opened yet and we happily wander around the vineyards to enjoy its breath-taking views.

The winery also has a restaurant, Locale, which serves modern Italian food.

View from De Bortoli Wines

View from De Bortoli Wines

Yering Station

Restaurant at Yering Station winery, Yarra Valley

Restaurant at Yering Station winery, Yarra Valley

Set in the historical winery building (circa 1859), the cellar door at Yering Station encapsulates the synergy between wine and food.

The winery produces fifteen styles of wine under six distinctive labels that include single and mixed varietals of chardonnay, marsanne viognier, pinot gris, fume blanc, rose, pinot noir, shiraz viognier, cabernet sauvignon and merlot.

Wine Bar Restaurant at Yering Station winery, Yarra Valley

Wine Bar Restaurant at Yering Station winery, Yarra Valley

The Wine Bar Restaurant has a modern setting with panoramic views of the vast rural landscape and mountains beyond.

Wine Bar Restaurant at Yering Station winery, Yarra Valley

Wine Bar Restaurant at Yering Station winery, Yarra Valley

The menu is French-inspired with roasted quail coq au vin, bouillabaisse and slow-cooked beef cheeks as the flavour of the month.

View from Wine Bar Restaurant, Yering Station winery, Yarra Valley

View from Wine Bar Restaurant, Yering Station winery, Yarra Valley

Yering Station winery, Yarra Valley

Yering Station winery, Yarra Valley

Yering Station Reserve Pinot Noir

Yering Station Reserve Pinot Noir

Yering station Reserve Shiraz Viognier

Yering station Reserve Shiraz Viognier

2011 Yering Station Pinot Noir Rose

2011 Yering Station Pinot Noir Rose

Selection of wines from Yering Station, Yarra Valley

Selection of wines from Yering Station, Yarra Valley

A 2012 Yering Station Pinot Noir Rose smells of Turkish delight rose water with peachy undertones. This wine has a distinctively dry finish which I like.

Words of wisdom at Yering Station winery, Yarra Valley

Words of wisdom at Yering Station winery, Yarra Valley

Line of trees in the distance, Melba Highway, Yarra Valley

Line of trees in the distance, Melba Highway, Yarra Valley

Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery

Tasting chocolates at Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery

Tasting chocolates at Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery

The Yarra Valley is not only about wine as there is a host of other activities that would appeal to those other than wine lovers.

The Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery  produces a wide range of chocolates and ice cream and has a cafe and restaurant that is open all year round.

Chocolates at Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery

Chocolates at Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery

This place is an ideal spot to visit where there is a playground for the kids and childrens’ birthday parties are often held in the cafe which is filled with all kinds of chocolates and sweets.

Lemon meringue tart at Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery

Lemon meringue tart at Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery

Chocolates at Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery

Chocolates at Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery

Signage at Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery

Signage at Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery

View from Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery

View from Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery

Yarra Valley Regional Farmers Market

Jams at Jam Lady Jam

Jams at Jam Lady Jam

Founded nine years ago, the Yarra Valley Regional Farmers Market is the longest runnung market in Victoria.

It is held on the third Sunday of each month in the Historic Barn at Yering Station winery.

Local producers gather in a cosy barn to sell fresh seasonal fruit, vegetables, locally baked bread, biscuits and pies.

There is also an array of jams, chutneys, cheeses, olive oil, honey, meats and eggs.

Jam Lady Jam

Lisa O'Connor of Jam Lady Jam

Lisa O'Connor of Jam Lady Jam

In 1995 whilst recovering from tonsillitis, ex-opera singer Lisa O’Connor‘s friend kept bringing her fruit to help her recuperate.

Fruit was the last thing she wanted to eat so she started making jam from her little bungalow kitchen and Jam Lady Jam was born.

Lisa made so much jam that she started giving it away to friends who owned cafes and who later encouraged her to supply them with her delicious product. From opera singing to jam making is indeed an interesting career change.

“The audience don’t need to be listening because they are half asleep. And I love the fact that people are waking up to a little bit of me in the morning” she says.

In 2001, Lisa came to Healesville in the Yarra Valley for the weekend at the invitation of chef Richard Hauptmann. They fell in love and she never returned to Melbourne.

In 2003, their daughter Carmen was born and Lisa has no doubt their little girl is the best thing they have ever cooked.

Lisa invited chef Alan Harding to join their business in 2006 and together with Richard, the three of them have started their second label Handmade in Healesville.

Lunch at Greenpoint Brasserie, Chandon Winery

Charcuterie Platter $27

Charcuterie Platter $27

In the 1960′s, Moët & Chandon began exploring the potential of making world class sparkling wines outside of France.

They have already established successful Chandon Estates in Argentina, Brazil and California and saw the opportunity to make a premium quality sparkling wine in Australia.

Chandon sparkling wine

Chandon sparkling wine

During the mid-1980s, a group of Australian wine experts were engaged to find an ideal site for growing traditional cool climate champagne grape varieties.

Chandon winery, Yarra Valley

Chandon winery, Yarra Valley

Nestling in the Yarra Valley, they found an old diary farm named ‘Green Point’ with the perfect combination of cool climate and great soil. Since 1986, this has been the site of Domaine Chandon.

Large pine tree at Chandon winery

Large pine tree at Chandon winery

Chandon sparkling wines are made with the same grape varieties used in Champagne ~ chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier while the sparkling pinot shiraz also features shiraz.

All of Chandon’s sparkling wines are aged in their bottles for a minimum of 18 months, an essential part of the ‘methode traditionnelle’ from France that adds complexity and texture to the wine.

Glass of 2011 Chandon Pinot Noir

Glass of 2011 Chandon Pinot Noir

I nurse a glass of 2011 Chandon Pinot Noir as we admire the view of beautiful vineyards from the Greenpoint Brasserie.

There is delicate hints of cherry on the nose and I taste velvety cinnamon. It has good length for a relatively young pinot noir.

Green olives on Charcuterie Platter

Green olives on Charcuterie Platter

“The Charcuterie Platter sounds good and we can share different items on the plate” Molly suggests.

The platter is a delighful mix of soft green olives, chorizo, sourdough, rocket leaves, porcini onion jam, artichoke, liver parfait, pork rilettes and chicken terrine.

Chorizo slices on Charcuterie Platter

Chorizo slices on Charcuterie Platter

Artichoke on Charcuterie Platter

Artichoke on Charcuterie Platter

Bread and chicken terrine on Charcuterie Platter

Bread and chicken terrine on Charcuterie Platter

Pan roasted snapper fillet, dill butter sauce with Dutch carrots, roast potatoes and chervil $32

Pan roasted snapper fillet, dill butter sauce with Dutch carrots, roast potatoes and chervil $32

The skin of the pan roasted snapper fillet is very crispy and the fish and roast potatoes are tasty having soaked up all the dill butter sauce.

I seldom order snapper but this one I will as it is definitely a dish for all seasons.

Chicken, avocado, black turtle bean and basil salad with lemon and chilli dressing $18

Chicken, avocado, black turtle bean and basil salad with lemon and chilli dressing $18

The chicken salad is a little disappointing though.

Slices of chicken breast come with cumin and curry flavours but when mixed with fresh basil leaves, black turtle beans, avocado and the coarse texture of endive leaves, I’m not quite sure where this salad is heading. The spicy red chilli dressing adds more confusion.

Cauliflower and smoked trout soup $18

Cauliflower and smoked trout soup $18

A cauliflower and smoked trout soup is light, tasty and keeps us cosy on a winter day.

Cauliflower and smoked trout soup $18

Cauliflower and smoked trout soup $18

Tangy baby capers give more attitude and another serve of sourdough bread is good idea for this soup too.

Sourdough and olive oil

Sourdough and olive oil

The sourdough is soft and good quality olive oil for dipping is always key in complementing fresh bread.

View from Greenpoint Brasserie, Chandon winery

Dark and bright skies: View from Greenpoint Brasserie, Chandon winery

On the menu of the Greenpoint Brasserie, there is some history about the land upon which the winery was built:

Your destination is a magical spur of land, steeped in history and rich in tradition with historic tales dating back to early European settlement.

The very first vines were planted in this region in the early 1800s.  Picturesque mountain ranges, green pastures and flowing streams inspired the Scottish-born Ryrie brothers to carry 600 vine cuttings from New South Wales to the Yarra Valley and chart a unique identity for the region.

They observed that each year as the dry summer months moved in, this land, now home to Domaine Chandon Australia, was and still remains, the last point in the Yarra Valley to maintain its lush green landscape.

Greenpoint’s ancient alluvial soils run deep, retaining moisture from the winter months well into summer. These soils combined with the Yarra Valley’s cool climate terroir, make the very point at which we sit, the greenest in the Valley.

Our winemakers take advantage of the cool, slow-ripening climate of this region to craft wines with a variety of flavours and classic Chandon expression ~ elegant, subtle, complex, exclusive and lingering.

More wine tasting

Rain in the distance ~ View from Tokar Estate, Coldstream

Rain in the distance ~ View from Tokar Estate, Coldstream

After lunch, we continue our wine tasting escapade in search of more pinot noir the Yarra Valley is so renown for.

We drive towards Tokar Estate in Coldstream and although it is cold, windy and dry, we see beautiful rain falling in the distant horizon.

Tokar Estate

Tokar Estate winery, Yarra Valley

Tokar Estate winery, Yarra Valley

As we approach Tokar Estate, dark clouds are looming but it is a beautiful sight as the winery comes into view, the buildings perched on elevated land with the vineyards planted on its foregrounds.

Even though I enjoy bright and sunny blue skies,  grey clouds that look ominous add darker tones of colour, volatility and character to the landscape.

Just like music, it is an easy task listening to happy and cheerful tunes that are composed in major keys.

However, so many famous operas, ballets, symphonies and piano concerti by the great classical and romantic composers are composed in minor keys which can better convey sadness and tragedy.

It is these elements which bring greatness to these works because dramatic melodies which are full of colour and vigour fuel the passion in our hearts and keep us engaged.

Tokar Estate winery, Yarra Valley

Tokar Estate winery, Yarra Valley

There is a small and cosy restaurant at the Tokar Estate winery and the cellar door is located within the restaurant which is in full swing during this Sunday lunch hour.

Tokar Estate Tempra Rosa

Tokar Estate Tempra Rosa

Tasting Tokar Estate Pinot Noir

Tasting Tokar Estate Pinot Noir

Both KC and I like the 2011 Tokar Estate Pinot Noir.

It is vibrant crimson with aromas of ripe cherries and hints of star anise. I would drink this wine on its own or pair it with a slow-cooked pork belly in apple cider.

Luscious and velvety, it’s a versatile wine with food and pretty good value at $28 per bottle.

Coldstream Hills

Coldstream Hills, Yarra Valley

Coldstream Hills, Yarra Valley

The brainchild of Australian wine luminary James Halliday, the winery at Coldstream Hills is most famous for its chardonnay and pinot noir wines.

Since its first vintage in 1985, the winery has gradually demonstrated the ideal conditions for growing pinot noir grapes that Yarra Valley is famous for.

View from Coldstream Hills winery, Yarra Valley

View from Coldstream Hills winery, Yarra Valley

The Upper Yarra Chardonnay is generally citrusy while the Lower Yarra is bolder with stonefruit characters. Coldstream Hills Chardonnay is barrel fermented and matured in French oak barrels for nine months prior to blending and bottling.

I smell nutty almond and peach in the 2012 Coldstream Hills Chardonnay and it feels soft and velvety in my mouth. I don’t believe in drinking unwooded chardonnays and this wine is testament that French oak adds beautiful layers of complexity and character to an otherwise one-dimensional white wine.

KC prefers the Yering Station Pinot Noir over the Coldstream Hills one. Personally, I find dark berries and cherry in the 2012 Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir. As I swirl this lusicous red in my mouth, it is plummy, jammy, aniseedy and five spicy. I’m no wine expert so in layman’s terms, it’s a bloody good drop of pinot noir.

Tasting room at Yarra Yering, Yarra Valley

Tasting room at Yarra Yering, Yarra Valley

“We should check out Soumah” KC says.

“This winery is a consecutive winner in the Federation Square wine show” he adds.

Soumah of Yarra Valley

Soumah winery, Yarra Valley

Soumah winery, Yarra Valley

Located at the Warramate foothills of the Yarra Valley, Soumah is an acronym for the dress circle location of “South of Maroondah Highway”.

The Butcher family’s passion for fine wine making is the driving force for a single vineyard range with varietal and regional character.

View from Soumah of Yarra Valley

View from Soumah of Yarra Valley

The first two vintages attracted many accolades where the Savarro won consecutive trophies at the 2011 and 2012 Federation Square Wine Showcase and gathering no less than 14 medals and trophies.

Cherryl Butcher, Cellar Door Manager at Soumah, Yarra Valley

Cherryl Butcher, Cellar Door Manager at Soumah, Yarra Valley

Cellar Door Manager, Cherryl Butcher tells us the vines on the estate are about fifteen years old and Soumah is focused on making cool climate and dry styles of wine.

2012 Soumah Savarro, Yarra Valley

2012 Soumah Savarro, Yarra Valley

The Savarro story at Soumah opens in the Northern Italian region of Bolzano where the green-skinned, tight bunched grape was first recorded in the 10th century. Over the millennia, it travelled to all corners of Europe taking on many names including Savagnin, Heidaand Bo Blanc to name a few.

The cool climate of the valley provides excellent conditions for the late ripening Savarro grapes which are hand-picked before being pressed and fermented on lees to give the wine its aromatic qualities.

A 2012 Soumah Savarro has a pale straw colour and is citrusy. It is minerally on the palate with good acidic balance and dry on the finish.

Grassland at St Huberts winery, Yarra Valley

Grassland at St Huberts winery, Yarra Valley

The Yarra Valley is a quick and easy escape from the busy city life of Melbourne. Its vast and expansive rural landscape is the perfect setting for quiet solitude.

The natural beauty of its grassland and hills are matched by the elegance of its wines.

Yering Station, Yarra Valley

Yering Station, Yarra Valley

So dear readers, what is your favourite wine to drink and do you have a favourite wine region in Australia?

(You can download a an official copy of Yarra Valley map to guide you through this wine tasting.)

De Bortoli Wines
58 Pinnacle Lane
Dixons Creek, Victoria

Tel: +61 3 5963 2271

Opening hours: Thursdays – Mondays lunch from 12pm, Saturday lunch from 12pm and dinner from 630pm.

Locale on Urbanspoon

Yering Station
39 Melba Highway
Yarra Glen, Victoria

Tel: +61 3 9730 0100

Cellar Door opening hours: Monday – Friday 10am – 5pm, Weekend & Public Holiday 10am – 6pm.

Wine Bar Restaurant

Tel: +61 3 9730 0100

Opening hours: Monday – Friday 10am to 5pm, Weekend & Public Holiday 10am – 6pm.

Yering Station on Urbanspoon

Tokar Estate Winery
6 Maddens Lane
Coldstream, Victoria

Tel: +61 3 5964 9585

Restaurant hours: Lunch 7 days a week from 12pm, Dinner Saturday from 630pm, Sunday to Friday evenings for bookings of 20 or more by prior arrangement.

Tokar Estate Winery & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery
35 Old Healesville road (cnr Melba Highway)
Yarra Glen, Victoria

Tel: +61 3 9730 2777

Opening hours: 9am – 5pm (Except Christmas Day)

Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery on Urbanspoon

Chandon
727 Maroondah Highway
Coldstream, Victoria

Reception +61 3 9738 9200
Greenpoint Brasserie & Bar +61 3 9738 9245

Opening hours: 10.30am – 4.30pm daily except Christmas Day

Green Point Brasserie at Domaine Chandon on Urbanspoon

Jam Lady Jam
Lisa O’Connor, Rchard Hauptmann, Alan Harding
Tel: +61 3 5962 2481 during business hours
Email: jamlady@tpg.com.au

Soumah of Yarra Valley
18 Hexham road
Gruyere, Victoria

Tel: +61 3 5962 4716

Opening hours: 11am – 4pm weekdays, 10am – 5pm weekends. Open on Public Holidays except Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

*For 6 or more in one party, there is a $5 tasting charge per person refundable on purchase of a bottle of wine.

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13 Responses to Wine Tasting Yarra Valley, Victoria

  1. Winston says:

    Wow this is a great post. Very helpful of you to share your extremely thorough and detailed wine tasting experience at Yarra Valley. I’ve only been there once but absolutely love the place. My meal at Yering Station was so memorable as well, everything was executed perfectly. I always have people asking which winery to go in Melbourne and I will direct them to your post from now on.

    • Chopinand says:

      Dear Winston,

      The Yering station menu looked really good and they were having the Yarra Valley Farmers Market on the grounds last Sunday too. The views of the valley from the restaurant are spectacular too.

  2. bams Kitchen says:

    Oh my goodness was this post full of information and great photos of both the vineyards and the food. What a great experience! I love pinot nior and I think that would be quite nice with a juicy Auzzie steak.. I have not been to Australia or their vineyards yet but that is on my bucket list of things to do.

    • Chopinand says:

      Dear BAM,

      The Yarra Valley is just one of so many beautiful wine-growing regions in Australia and many restaurants at these vineyards serve spectacular food driven by fresh and sustainable local produce too.

  3. I love your blog.. I’m a new visitor here and love your photographs and couldn’t think of a more peaceful way to start my day than reading and listening to this beautiful piece of music! xx

  4. Libby says:

    Looks like you had quite the foodie (and wine!) adventure :) I live in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne so the Yarra Valley isn’t too far from my place but I’ve yet to visit a lot of the places in this post. On the top of my list is Yering Station so I’ll definitely make an effort to visit when the weather heats up :)

    • Chopinand says:

      Hi Libby,

      Some of the wineries I mentioned on this post is the mere beginning.

      The Yarra is such a beautiful wine-growing region I suspect we need more than a few weeks to really appreciate its beauty and what it has to offer.

  5. Amanda says:

    Nice to see you are prepared to put in the hard yards for the sake of your readers – what a huge day!! Thanks for all of the lovely pics.

    • Chopinand says:

      Dear Amanda,

      It was a pleasure for me writing up this blogpost because it gave me another chance to relive a beautiful weekend.

  6. Such a lovely place isn’t it? I do so love the Yarra Valley!

  7. Robyn Sugden says:

    Loved seeing the section on Soumah run by my dear friends, the Butchers. We’re far away from them in Queensland from where they came. Miss them so much, but they obviously love their vinyard.

  8. Juliana says:

    Rachmaninoff…is one of my favorite…and yes perfect as a background music while reading this post…beautiful pictures…
    Thanks for this great post.
    Have a lovely week ahead :D

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