Wine of the Month – Warramunda ‘Liv Zak’ Syrah – 2017

The Estate.

When customers inquire as to what my favorite destinations may be in the Yarra Valley, I often mention Warramunda Estate. As a family owned business, the family are usually in attendance for a warm and instructive cellar door experience.  Most importantly, the wines are delicious.

Believed to be an Aboriginal term meaning ‘Wait for tomorrow’ Warramunda is located on the famous south side of the Maroondah Highway in Coldstream, the prized vineyard shares a neighboring fence with Oakridge Wines. However, ‘waiting for tomorrow’ is often hard to do, when you have a bottle of Warramunda wine at hand.

From 1975 – 98, Warramunda Station was used as a cattle and sheep stud. The property was purchased in ’98 by the Vogt family, who then turned over the property from a stud farm to vineyard. The first variety planted being Cabernet Sauvignon. This was then followed by Pinot Noir, Marsanne, Viognier, and Shiraz (Syrah).

One of my first tastings at Warramunda included the 2016 Liv Zak Syrah. After having purchased and enjoyed many bottles of this lovely wine, I am excited to review the 2017 vintage.

The model that works so well for Warramunda highlights 2 ranges of wine. The Liv Zak wines are overseen by Olivier (Liv), while the Warramunda Estate wines are the proud offerings of Liv’s farther Robert Magdziarz. With talented and respected Yarra Valley winemaker Ben Haines on board, the wines have an authentic style. They are at once reflective of the Warramunda vineyard, the *Coldstream sub region, and the Yarra Valley region.

The family is passionate about many of the lesser known white French Rhone Valley varietals, in particular Marsanne and Viognier. The award winning Warramunda Estate Viognier is highly regarded by wine lovers and wine critics alike. Further to this, the Syrah (Shiraz), is made in a distinctly cool climate Northern Rhone style. These wines add an extra layer of interest to the cellar door experience at Warramunda.

Both the Liv Zak wines and Warramunda Estate wines are bright and vibrant, due in no small part to the natural acidity of the soil, the cool climate, and the early hand picking of the grapes at exactly the right time of physiological ripeness.

The Liv Zak wines are crafted to be enjoyed immediately upon release. However the Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah in particular will show well for at least the next 5 – 8 years.

As a wonderful counterpoint, the Estate range is structured to slowly reveal hidden charms over a decade or two. Don’t rush. There’s no hurry.

I look forward to posting a review of the Warramunda Estate range later in the year. I have been lucky enough to taste them, and they are some of the best wines I have tried this year.

Here is a quote from the Warramunda website, eloquently summing up their style and vision.

“Warramunda Estate’s wines appeal equally to the learned wine connoisseur and those new to the art and science of wine. The wines are bursting with personality and drinkability yet will cellar well should you prefer a more mature wine.”

The Wine.

Warramunda Liv Zak Syrah – 2017.

If I could drink wine like this more often – I would be a happy chap indeed. The grapes for this wine were actually sourced from the esteemed wine growing region of Beechworth. The story goes that the quality of the Syrah from the Warramunda vineyards was so exceptional, Rob decided that the grapes needed to be reserved for the Warramunda Estate Syrah.

After searching for great quality fruit to make the 2017 Liv Zak Syrah, Liv eventually found a vineyard in the esteemed Victorian winegrowing region of Beechworth. Finally finding fruit that was worthy of the challenge.

I was a big fan of the 2016 Liv Zak Syrah – purchasing a six pack for my own humble collection.

I was delighted with how the 2017 Liv Zak Syrah presented.

On the nose – showing slightly deeper and riper notes than the 2016 – due to the warmer growing region.

I found a whiff of blueberries and prunes – a very attractive combination. The palate already shows a beautiful integration of perfectly ripened fruit and subtle French oak playing a supporting role. The wine was matured in 500 litre used French oak barrels. These larger format, used barrels help the wine to soften and integrate – without any overt influence of new oak. It works a treat with this wine.

There is a hint of red spice that carry through the palate – with fresh acidity giving length and refreshment – a signature of the Warramunda style.

 

Already drinking beautifully, why not keep a bottle or two for the glorious future? I dare you to.

 

 Score out of 100 – As Judged by the Official ‘Perfect Day Tours’ Tasting Panel.

All things considered using our strict criteria, we rated this wine as – ‘Bloody Lovely – with 2 exclamation points’, as seen below.

Bloody Lovely!!

*Coldstream can be considered an unofficial sub region of the Yarra Valley.

Posted in Updates

Seasons at The Stables – Yarra Valley

Three photos of the rear of The Stables – Stones Yarra Valley.  Pic 1. is mid summer – Pic 2, late autumn. Pic 3. early winter

Perfect Day Tours customers love visiting this historic precinct of the Yarra Valley, with some of the oldest known buildings in Victoria. The original stables were constructed in the 1860’s. Now used as a restaurant on the weekends, the courtyard is a magnificent Tuscan

Summer 2019

inspired outdoor area. Grape vines offering shade and coolness during the summer. The deciduous vines offer magnificent autumn tones on their foliage. Finally, winter light is much welcome in this cool climate area Coldstream – Yarra Valley.

Winter tours are wonderful – and the wine tastes great!

This upcoming Queen’s Birthday – Sunday is fully booked, However Saturday 8th and Monday 10th are still available for tours.The Mornington Peninsula is featuring it’s popular Food & Wine Fest this weekend.

Autumn 2019
Winter – 2019
Posted in Updates

Wine of the Week – Hesket Estate Pinot Noir 2015 – Macedon Ranges.

Hesket Estate  Pinot Noir – 2015

Macedon Ranges -Victoria

Situated at an impressively high altitude of 660 metres in the Macedon Ranges, the rustic cellar door at Hesket Estate offers genuine warmth and hospitality. Hesket is open on the first weekend of the month, or by appointment.

Although as a small family run operation they have limited accessibility, owners Elizabeth and Alex are happy to open their cellar door for Perfect Day Tours customers for your own private tasting.

I love taking my customers to Hesket Estate – as I know they will enjoy the heartfelt greeting – as well as the cool climate wines on offer.

In my view, the defining feature of the Macedon Ranges has to be the vibrant natural acidity found in the wines, due to the high altitude and distance from the ocean. This distance gives a continental effect, delivering very cold nights, even if the days are warm during the grape growing season.

Hesket Estate was established in 1983, and subsequently purchased by Elizabeth and Alex in 1993. Having the great advantage of mature, 30 year old vines, the Pinot Noir in particular shows depth and complexity. This is due in no small part to the roots penetrating deep into the red and grey loam soils, absorbing tiny amounts of deeply buried minerals.

Being such a cool climate – Hesket Estate are also renowned for a tantalizing sparkling wine known as ‘The Margaret’. They also produce Riesling, Chardonnay and the highly aromatic Gewurtztraminer. Also on offer are more full bodied varietals of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, with grapes being procured from the warmer northerly region of Heathcote.

I was lucky enough to enjoy an aged, 2007 Hesket Estate Pinot Noir last year. I rated the 2007 as one of the best wines I tasted in 2018. So I was looking forward to tasting the most recent offering.

 

Tasting Notes

The current vintage Hesket Pinot Noir is 2015. It is great to see a good pinot with even a few years of bottle age. As the wine opened up, I found tantalizing aromas of black cherry, baking spices, and star anise. I was also reminded of lovingly toasted Sunday morning sourdough – due to the subtle, toasted oak framing in the background.

This is the sort of wine that you may enjoy swirling and sniffing in a big old red wine glass. The bigger the better. I use the Riedel ‘Magnum’ for my tastings, as they have a generous bowl and a short, robust stem. A very good workhorse glass with a low centre of gravity. This means it is harder for the somewhat clumsy to break.

The palate has a delicious cherry pip tang, due to the beautiful natural acidity and high quality fruit from the handpicked vineyard. Hello! – There is a delicious hint of bacon on the back palate, detected as the wine warms in the glass to reveal more hidden charms This desirable note is often associated with certain high quality French oak barrels.

Medium bodied – with soft tannins already well integrated – showing a silky mid palate. Of course the point of difference is the vibrant natural acidity, giving a mouth watering finish. Drinking beautifully now, it will undoubtedly develop even more silkiness and complexity over the next 5 to 10 years. As noted above, the natural acidity in the wine will ensure it ages gracefully.

 

Food Pairings

I found this lovely Pinot Noir  sings harmoniously with home cooked, pan fried duck breast, and an Asian inspired sauce. It would also go very well with earthy dishes such as mushroom soup or risotto, as well as roasted beetroot.

Hesket Estate wine is available cellar door or on line.

Cost per bottle – approximately $40.

My score out of 100

Impressively Lovely.

Posted in Updates

Wine of the Week – Granite Hills Riesling – 2018

There don’t appear to be many wine tour operators offering tours to the Macedon Ranges, which suits me just fine.

I am seeing a steady increase in interest for tours to this wonderful, mysterious cool climate region. Most people are surprised to learn that the Macedon Ranges is the coolest wine growing region on the mainland of Australia. The only other areas that have cooler summer temperatures for wine production are to be found in certain pockets of Tasmania.

Granite Hills is one of the earliest wine producers, with Riesling vines dating back to the 1970s. Located at the north east end of the Macedon Ranges, the vineyard and winery are nestled among the granite boulders of the Great Dividing Range.

As many of you would be aware, granite soils are perfect for Riesling vines, offering excellent drainage, and infusing stoney minerality to the wines. This minerality is often detected as a pleasant ‘wet stone’ character or the evocative smell of wet roads and concrete   after a summer storm. It is all due to the ancient granitic soils.

The two wines for which Granite Hills are most recognized are Riesling and the original ‘peppery’ Shiraz. Pepper notes are an indication of cool climate, and can vary from year to year.  It is a subject that owner and winemaker Llew Knight is tireless in conversations with his customers about.

As he explains – “Peppery aromas in Shiraz are from cool climates – so it is a bit cheeky for producers from warmer areas of Australia to market their wine with ‘Pepper’ in the description or brand name”.  Enough said. Discuss it with Llew!

I am happy to report that as well as the above highly awarded wines, Granite Hills are also producing small parcels of some of the most interesting alternate varieties in Australia. These include Gamay, Gruner Veltliner, Pinot Blanc, to name but a few.

 

I will most likely publish a tasting notes on some of the more alternate varietals in future, as they are delicious, but I could not resist purchasing the new vintage Riesling – 2018 for review. Released in March 2019, Llew informed me that the yields were down around 20% in 2018 – which hurts the bottom line of small estate producers. With the warm, even ripening at the end of vintage however, the quality of the wine was very good.

One of the most rewarding ‘take aways’ from a tasting at Granite Hills, is to learn that there is no added acid in this wine. Due to the very cool climate, it is all natural acid from the Riesling grapes.

It is worth noting that even some of the most renowned  Australian regions for Riesling need to add acid to the wines because of the warmer climate. The winemakers from the Clare Valley and Eden Valley usually need to add tartaric acid to balance the wines. This can sometimes give a course, astringent finish to the wine – especially when young.

The reason I decided to review the new vintage of Granite Hills Riesling (2018), is simply due to the facts that I enjoy drinking this wine every vintage. The wines mature magnificently for 10 years or more, due to the natural acidity, and finally – it is one of the best Rieslings in Australia under $25!

 

Tasting Note.

When tasted at a cooler temperature, there were aromatic notes of the prized ‘wet stones’ minerality. Upon warming up in the glass, there also appeared inviting notes of rose petal and citrus peel.  The palate is clean, fresh and mouthwatering – driven by the pure natural acidity of the wine.

A perfect match for delicate white fish. Anything that enjoys a squeeze of lemon works well. I enjoyed my wine with homemade chicken and spring onion dumplings, fried rice and marinated fried tofu.

Score out of 100

Pure Deliciousness.

 

Why not get a tour of your friends/ family together for a wonderful tour of the Macedon Ranges?  It is a memorable drive up the Bourke and Wills Track to visit Granite Hills. Llew, Andrea and the team would love to see you.

Visit the Perfect Day Tours website for great price current offers.

 

 

 

Posted in Updates

All Inclusive – Private Budget Tour

Updated Budget Tour –  Autumn / Winter –  2019

This is a private tour – just your friends and family are invited!

Wood fired Gourmet Pizza lunch and tastings at 3

premium wineries/cellar doors are all included

For 10 people – You pay just $99

 

Prices vary up or down depending upon numbers.

* You get picked up at your preferred central location.

Then you sit back and enjoy a whole day of tasting fabulous wines at some of the best cool climate producers in Australia. You don’t even have to pay any extra for you gorgeous, casual lunch.

You are then safely, and lovingly returned to your central location

I know – What’s not to love ???

As we offer flexible, private tours – please let me know if you wish to upscale lunch options or tastings.

This option is currently available for the Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula & Macedon Ranges.

*Destinations outside of the Melbourne District may incur higher charges – please advise of your location so I can offer you our best price.

Here is our current ‘All Inclusive’ offer for Autumn & Winter 2019.

Cost per person

10 – $99

9 – $107

8 – $115

7 – $126

6 – $140

5 – $148

4 – $175

3 – $183

2 – $253

Please see other offers on the website to suite your requirements.

 

Posted in Updates

Ten Minutes By Tractor – Pinot Noir Release 2017

Mornington Peninsula’s Ten Minutes By Tractor Pinot Noirs are due for release on the upcoming Queen’s Birthday long weekend,  Saturday 8th of June. Their  flagship Estate Pinot Noir, and many of the single vineyard wines have been sold out for some months now. This is due to their superior deliciousness and the limited quantities of these exemplary wines.

Unfortunately for eager customers of Perfect Day Tours, the 2016 vintage of the  Estate Pinot Noir, as well as the tiny quantity of single vineyard wines from the McCutcheon, Judd, and Wallis vineyards sold out far too quickly.

Patience, they say, is a virtue. Especially where these magnificent Mornington Peninsula treasures are concerned.

With  2017 being a much anticipated vintage release – we will be counting down the days until release.

How many more sleeps until  Saturday 8th of June?

Ten Minutes By Tractor Pinot Noir

 

Posted in Updates

Wine of the Week – Seville Hill Sangiovese – 2014

Seville Hill Sangiovese – 2014

A good Sangiovese should be medium bodied and textural. The very best are expressive of the soil in which they are grown, much like Riesling or Pinot Noir. These wines can be a window into the dirt from which they rise. I am always delighted to detect a hint of ‘dusty roads’ in my Sangio’s I find the aroma evokes the memory of seemingly endless dusty gravel roads from distant travels. Although there are many clones among the Sangiovese family, the well chosen ones have a lovely line of acidity, making them one of the best wines to match with food. One of my most memorable ‘light bulb’ moments was the time I drank a Chianti Classico (a predominantly Sangiovese blend from Tuscany), with a simple Bolognese pasta dish. Until that moment – I had not found a red wine that could taste so delicious with tomato based dishes, as well as fresh basil and Parmesan. My favourite Aussie Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon appeared clunky and disjointed when paired with such a dish.

So what is it that makes Sangiovese such a great food wine? For starters – it is not too ’big’ on the mid palate. Over more than a thousand years of cultivation – Sangiovese has learned its place. It knows how to support food, rather than dominate. A very mature attitude. Thank you Sangiovese.

Further to the dusty roads thing – Seville Hill Sangiovese 2014 also reveals subtle notes of red to dark berries. Soft tannins, due in part to the bottle age add to the allure. The palate is fresh and supple. I enjoyed my Seville Hill Sangiovese with Spanish inspires stuffed red capsicum.  The long line of fresh acidity cleanses the palate, compliments the smoked paprika in the dish.

Established in 1991,Seville Hill Winery is located in the cooler, Upper Yarra Valley area of Seville. Beautiful views of the Warburton Ranges and Yarra Valley add to the attraction of a visit to the cellar door.

Never one to sit still, owner /winemaker John D’Aloiso and his wife Josie originally farmed stone fruit and strawberries. Now, magnificent mature cherry trees also deliver an abundant crop, from late November through December. Once the cherries are picked, its time to get ready for the grape harvest in  late Februrary.

The Seville Hill vineyards were originally focused on the traditional French varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir,Shiraz and Merlot,  Seville Hill has also added other delicious, food friendly Italian varieties of  Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, and Barbera. The king of Spanish grapes,Tempranillo is also among the impressive suite on tasting.

John believes his wines are best after a few years in the bottle. So a tasting at Seville Hill allows you to taste wines that are more mature and ready to drink than at most cellar doors.

Further to the  cool Upper Yarra Valley site, John also has grapes growing in vineyards around Lilydale. This warmer area of the Yarra Valley, known colloquially as ‘The Valley Floor’, allows many of the red varieties the extra heat they require to fully ripen.

One of my favourite destinations for my customers for lunch – it is a delight to savour your favourite wine from the extensive tasting with your delicious, seasonal Italian inspired lunch. The value and hospitality are hard to match.

Three spectacular English Elm’s offer welcome  shade in the warmer months. Dining beneath the Elms whilst taking in the spectacular views – with a glass of something special, makes for a memorable afternoon.

Seville Hill is a proud member of the Smaller Wineries of the Yarra Valley – which often have special offers and events.

#Sevilleestate

 

 

Posted in Updates

Yabby Lake – Mornington Peninsula

Yabby Lake Vineyard,  Mornington Peninsula

The more I visit Yabby Lake with my valued customers, the more impressed I become.

The cellar door is nestled unobtrusively  among native vegetation, with the now maturing local gum trees offering dappled shade as you amble down to the cellar door and restaurant. For the remarkably high quality of the award winning  wines – there is nothing ostentatious here. All the team members at the cellar door and restaurant seem to have be well chosen and well trained to be welcoming, friendly, and professional.

A casual lunch at Yabby Lake. High quality food, wine, people and glasses. What’s not to like?

Much like the delicately handled grape juice in the winery, I have realized that everything flows naturally here. From the warm greeting at the cellar door, to the informal style of the restaurant, you feel welcome. There are leather couches and seats where you can sit comfortably with a glass of wine and chat. The ambiance even lends itself to quiet reading. Hopefully you are flicking through one of the many food and wine magazines or books provided –  with a glass of something fabulous in hand.  Hopefully you are not checking your emails on a smart phone?

The restaurant extends seamlessly outside, and I observed groups of friends and families relaxing on the lawn, taking in the stunning views, on picnic rugs and huge cushions – obviously supplied by Yabby Lake.  There is an an array of  art installation that form a sculpture park, and children feel welcome and are engaged, exploring the installations.

My customers were most happy with the shared platters they enjoyed for lunch. The other important thing to mention, of course, is that Yabby Lake produce some of the most highly awarded and well regarded wines in Australia.

The word ‘passionate ‘ has become somewhat cliche these days – so you will understand what I mean when I write that Tom Carson, as Group Winemaker, puts his heart & soul into producing beautiful, elegant and site specific wines. He is of course supported by a great team of like minded, talented people, flowing from the winery, the cellar door and restaurant.

Tom, ex Yering Station in the Yarra Valley, is considered to have one of the best palates in the country, and has been a great driver in producing and promoting cool climate wines that are elegant,  often lower in alcohol and specific to the Mornington Peninsula region and vineyards.  Most importantly – the wines are food friendly. Tom is a highly respected wine judge at many of the major wine shows in Australia. He has also been influential in highlighting the charms of Victorian wines at the prestigious Royal Melbourne Wine Show.

The impressive range of wines on offer at the restaurant and cellar door span several tiers.

The Red Claw range offer solid, value packed wines displaying regional character.

The Yabby Lake ‘Single Vineyard’ range ratchet thing up a notch or two, displaying premium quality Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, & a small amount of Pinot Gris. These  wines reflect a modern style and mindset. All about purity of fruit, gently framed by high quality French oak. Importantly, the oak never dominates the delicate flavours. It is fascinating to taste wines that are expressive of a single vineyard, especially when they are this good. Medium bodied and supple, it is a delight to savour a glass at the restaurant in their large format glassware, offering up maximum aromatics and drinking pleasure.

No wonder the 2014 Yabby Lake Single Vineyard Pinot Noir was the first Pinot Noir to win the prestigious Jimmy Watson Trophy at the Melbourne Wine Show!

It come as no surprise that in the current edition of the James Halliday Wine Companion – 2019, the  following points were awarded.  2017 Single Vineyard Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir – 96 points. 2017 Single Vineyard  Mornington Peninsula Chardonnay – 95 points. 2017 Single Vineyard Mornington Peninsula Pinot Gris – 95 points.

For fans of  Syrah, (cool climate Shiraz), the Single Vineyard range offer a 2017 Syrah, awarded 95 points by Campbell Mattinson. For some reason, one that I shall not argue with, this wine is priced at a low $36. Inspired by the delicately perfumed Syrah of the Northern Rhone, this medium bodied beauty is supple and long on the finish.

The Single Vineyard  Pinot Gris sells for about $33 per bottle,while the Chardonnay is priced around $45. You can expect to part with about $60 for a bottle of the Pinot Noir.

As if this delightful range is not enough. Wait, there is more!

Fining down even more from the Single Vineyard Range – there is also a Single Block Range. This range is dedicated to highlighting the unique characteristics of a particular segment of a single vineyard, known as a ‘block’. Obviously these wines are made in much smaller quantities, and are an intriguing insight into the macro – climate, elevation, o

rientation and soil profile of a small parcel of land within the vineyard. These wines are also very expressive of the vagaries of the vintage. All of this information is lovingly nurtured and harvested – and offered  to us in a never to be repeated vintage wine.

Of course the quality  of these wines did not escape the great palates or the 2019 Wine Companion either.

The 2017 –  Single Block ‘Block 6’ Mornington Peninsula Chardonnay was awarded a rare 98 points. The 2017 Single Block Pinot Noir was awarded 97 points. Both of these small production wines are priced at around $95.

Yabby Lake are also the proud makers of a strapping, full bodied Heathcote Estate Shiraz. The fruit is grown in Heathcote, and when perfectly ripe, is picked and transported to the Yabby Lake Winery. This is often carried out at night,to keep the Shiraz grapes nice and cool before their fermentation. The Heathcote Estate Shiraz 2016 is  an impressive counterpoint to the Yabby Lake S.V Syrah. Grown on the hallowed, ancient Cambrian soils of Heathcote, it displays regional blueberry notes, the taste is full and satisfying.  Matured in French oak, there are enough ripe, grippy tannins to keep the ‘Big Red’ lovers enthralled for quite some time.It sells for around $45.

Yabby Lake –  Mornington Peninsula

#yabbylake #morningtonpeninsula #winerytours

Posted in Updates

Wine of the Week – Madden’s Rise Blanc de Blanc 2011 ( Sparkling Chardonnay)

Having sold out of the 2010 blanc de blanc  last October, it was with much anticipation that I tasted the 2011 vintage.

Madden’s Rise is on one of the best vineyard sites on the Yarra Valley floor. Located in Coldstream, on the famous  south side of the Maroondah Highway.

Quietly producing premium grapes that are snapped up by some of the big producers in the valley, they also make a small amount of their own characterful wines, mainly sold at their very cool cellar door.

A visit to the rustic and friendly cellar door is a must for those who like to discover the hidden gems of the Yarra Valley.

Madden’s Rise 2011 Blanc de Blanc.  Sparkling Chardonnay.

While not being considered a favourable vintage for red wine in the Yarra Valley, due the cold and wet ripening conditions, it was a classic vintage for sparkling wine. A silver lining to the grumpy red wine cloud.

This wonderfully expressive bottle of bubbles was matured on yeast lees for an incredible 7 years. This extended time on  lees is similar to what many of the major French Champagne houses implement for their most expensive ‘Presige Cuvee’ wines – often selling for between $250 and $500 per bottle

This extended time on the lees give a complex aroma of freshly baked sourdough bread, with yeasty notes hinting at cheese, and even a background hint of Vegemite – due to the complex   aromas of extended yeast lees contact.

The palate is quite fine, almost delicate, reflective of the cool vintage.

Although the colour has more golden hues that are evident in more commercially produced bubbles, the palate is delicate, clean and fresh.

In a traditional flute – the bead is fine and delicate. The taste is still fresh and vibrant, reminiscent of fresh, crunchy, Granny Smith apples. This crispiness is due to the wine not being put through malolactic fermentation. A great call by the winemaking team and owners to help the wine age slowly and gracefully. It is very expensive to cellar wines  before release, so to have a sparkling wine just released after 7 years on yeast lees is a rare gift.

I am pleased to report that it was delicious with the prawns you can see on the platter in the photo.

Official Score – Bloody Yummy.

Recommended Retail Price – cellar door / online –  $45

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