In support of Victorian wineries and cellar doors during Covid – 19 restrictions, we are pleased to be involved with the wonderful #cellardoorchallenge initiative.
As we are unable to conduct tours at the moment, we need to provide our own entertainment. To that end, I have been having a bit of fun with opening 1 or 2 ‘back vintage’ wines each week. The idea is to enjoy these delicious wines with a great home cooked meal. As the #cellardoorchallenge is Instagram friendly, we try to get a decent photo of food & wine to post.
I love taking PDT customers to visit Knight’s Granite Hills in the Macedon Ranges. The winery and vineyard are located at an altitude of 550 meters above sea level on the Great Dividing Range.
The cool continental climate and high altitude help to make the Macedon Ranges the coolest wine growing region in Australia (including Tasmania)!
Granite Hills was established in 1970 by Gordon Knight, primarily to run sheep. Wine grapes were eventually planted, and the wines were found to be of exceptional quality. Gordon’s son – Llew – has been the long time wine maker and owner of this magnificent vineyard and winery.
Although offering a fabulous range of wines, Granite Hills is best known for Riesling and Shiraz. As the continental climate and high altitude can deliver very cold nights, the cool climate Shiraz often displays ‘peppery’ notes.
With regard to cool climate Shiraz, the pepper aromatics are more prevalent in the cooler vintages. The 2013 Shiraz was from a warmer vintage – so not as much pepper was evident. There is however a lovely medium bodied texture – matched with dark fruits and soft tannins. The cool climate acidity helps to dissolve any fattiness or oiliness from the food, matching perfectly with our ‘Greek Inspired Lamb Chop’ meal.
Being from a warmer vintage, there are inciting aromas of dark plums – with a subtle backdrop of Christmas cake. The complex aromas are due to the interaction of French and American oak, delicious ripe Shiraz grapes from mature vines – and time in bottle. There is a passing glance at cinnamon and nutmeg with pepper relegated to the back row this season.
Note – Being 14.5% alcohol this warmer – it helps to add the ‘sweet’ aromatics.
The colour is still deep, impenetrable and dark red with a touch of purple.
The palate is medium to full bodied, with an impressive length and clean finish – due in no small part to the natural acidity from this high altitude cool climate vineyard.
The 40 year old vines now penetrate deep into the granite soils, offering depth of flavour from the minerals dissolved in the earth below.
Selling for approximately $35 per bottle AU, Knights Granite Hills Shiraz offers good value, and is one of the original cool climate Shiraz.
As the wines are matured in oak and bottle before it is released – the current vintage at time of writing was 2014.
Due to Melbourne’s Covid 19 travel restrictions in September, I was unable to celebrate with my 2 adult daughters.
So why not visit my local butcher to see what he may recommend for barbecue fare? Tomahawk steak – done. Now to find an appropriate wine to help wash it down. I originally thought of a full bodied South Australian Shiraz or Cabernet from my humble collection – but decided to be a little more adventurous.
is one of the most difficult grape varieties to flourish outside of it’s spiritual home. In this case, it is the Piedmonte region in Northern Italy. Barolo and Barbaresco are the villages most famous for Nebbiolo, with wines that last and mature for 20 years or more. Many of the single vineyard wines can age gracefully for 30 or more years, depending on vintage conditions.
Nebbiolo from the best producers in Barolo was was traditionally known as ‘The king of wines – and the wine of kings’. This may have also been an indicator of the high prices commanded for these wines.
‘Tar and Roses’ is the traditional term accorded to describe the evocative Nebbiolo wines from it’s homeland. As you may be aware, this term has also been appropriated as a brand name for a Victorian wine company ( ’tis often difficult to resist the lure of a sexy brand name).
Tasting – Madden’s Rise Nebbiolo 2013
Distinctive aromas of rose petal and white pepper (Violets and leather becoming evident on the second day).
The medium bodied palate shows at once a delicacy and firmness – with savoury / meaty notes. Time in the bottle has softened the tannins, giving a long and dry finish.
I enjoyed the Madden’s Rise 2013 Nebbiolo very much. I only wish I had purchased more, as it was my one and only bottle.
In celebration of International Pinot Noir Day on August 18th – I opened a 375 ml bottle of Kooyong Estate Pinot 2016 – Mornington Peninsula.
What a lovely wine. A delicious background of cherry and gentle black pepper notes. Medium bodied and seamless on the palate. Soft tannins with well integrated acidity keeping it nice and fresh. It slowly unfolds on the back palate. Happily, no oaky protrusions were detected here.
I really enjoyed the subtly of the wine. I have been finding that older wines I have been drinking from my humble collection have often appeared very oaky. This is particularly apparent from the warmer regions of South Australia ( Let’s say Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale), where some producers were known to use a heavy dose of American oak.
Unlike most heavier reds would have – the Kooyong 2016 Pinot Noir wine worked beautifully with my ‘home alone’ left over roast chicken and veggies.
Once again, it proves what a magnificent region the Mornington Peninsula is for fine quality Pinot Noir.
I would like to remind you that ‘The proof is not in the pudding’. The proof of the pudding shall be in the eating! Or in this case, in the drinking!Delicioso!
What is the point, you may ask, of reviewing a wine that is no longer easily available to taste or purchase?
As many are now fond of answering – ‘Good Question!’
My thoughts are that many people may be interested in reading about a wine that unfolds in time, slowly revealing hidden charms. You may then be interested in acquiring the current vintage wine for your own collection to enjoy in the future. You would also be buying at a price that doesn’t include higher costs associated with the winery cellaring / keeping the wine for many years – if they were able to do so!
Although the Greenstone winery and cellar door are now based in the Yarra Valley, the Greenstone Heathcote Shiraz is a flagship wine on tasting at the Greenstone cellar door. Located on the western outskirts of the township of Yarra Glen, the current site of the Greenstone winery was first established by Yarra Ridge, it then became the home of Sticks Yarra Valley. Greenstone Vineyards purchased the Yarra Valley winery and cellar door in 2015, with a vision to add cool climate wines to their impressive portfolio.
The Greenstone project commenced in 2003, as a 40 hectare property at Colbinabbin, to the north of Heathcote. The Cambrian soils of Heathcote are unique, with the oldest known soils in Australia. Geological findings have dated the Cambrian soils at over 550 million years. These deep red soils are mottled with copper basalt, which has a green tinge, thus the name Greenstone. The mild climate and agreeable vineyard conditions have helped make Heathcote wines so highly regarded throughout Australia, and indeed, the rest of the wine drinking world. The Italian varietal Sangiovese also shows great promise from the Greenstone Heathcote vineyards.
The current vintage of the Heathcote Shiraz is 2017, so it is fascinating to see how the wine presents as a back vintage, at 8 years of age (2012 vintage tasted in July 2020).
Well renowned viticulturist, Mark Walpole was in charge of the vineyards in 2012. The magical touch of winemaker Sandro Mosele crafted the wines – further to performing his duties at the time at Kooyong Estate – Mornington Peninsula.
I recall that as a young wine, the 2012 Greenstone Heathcote Shiraz was taut and minerally, with very few fruit aromas or flavours evident. Fine grained persistent tannins and acidity were obvious. Tasting the wine 6 years down the track, I am pleased to report that the wine is maturing beautifully – with a bright future still ahead for the foreseeable future.
Aromas and flavours of dark fruits and blackberry gently reveal themselves, over a backdrop of very fine, ripe tannins. The acidity is well integrated, adding freshness and brightness to the medium bodied palate. I contend that the minerality in the Greenstone soils help to add complexity and minerality to this intriguing wine.
It is worth noting that the wine is made in a cool climate style – with French oak barrels being used for aging as well as slightly earlier picking of the grapes – retaining natural acidity. Many Heathcote Shirazes tip the scales at a hefty 15% abv. The 2012 Greenstone Shiraz weighs in at a svelte 13.5%abv. Practically a health food!
I am looking forward to tasting the 2012 in another 4-5 years, to see how it is unfolding. I will keep you posted.
A stunning winter view of the dormant vines beneath a Yarra Valley sky. This shot was taken from the top of the hill on 30th June, 2020, overlooking the vineyards @ Helen’s Hill, Coldstream Yarra Valley.
Tours are still happening – albeit it with smaller numbers. This is just right for PDT – as we specialize in bespoke smaller group tours.
Enchanting winter tours are still available – 7 days per week – for the YarraValley and Mornington Peninsula. Bookings are essential.
I spent most of last weekend (13th & 14th of June), visiting many of the cellar doors / restaurants in the Yarra Valley, to see how old friends were coping with Covid 19 restrictions.
As we have been getting many requests for tours, I wanted to see for myself what was happening now – and expectations over the next couple of months.
I am pleased to let you know that limited tours are now available.
I have included a few photos of the venues I visited, and wines tasted. The recently refurbished Yering Station Cellar Door is now also being used as an Art Gallery. Currently the stunning works of Antonio Villella – with his display Harmonious Equilibriums – adorns the walls of the Cellar Door.
Over the next 2 weeks – tours will be capped at 6 people.
Tours would typically be as follows.
Visit 1 or 2 wineries in the morning.
Lunch with a tasting and glass of wine.
A final wine tasting at another venue in the afternoon.
Yering Station recently refurbished Cellar Door.
Stunning art by Antonio Villella adorns the cellar door –
Yering Station Reserve Pinot Noir – 2017
Giant Steps – Single Vineyard Pinot Noirs – 2019 vintage.
Giant Steps – Healsville. 2019 Single Vineyard wines.
Medhurst Wines – Gruyere Yarra Valley
Seville Hill Reseve Pinot Noir – 2018
I was happy to taste a few wines over the weekend – and found the quality to be exceptional. I hope to take you and your friends and family on a beautiful wine tasting to the Yarra Valley soon.
Just before the Covid 19 shutdown, in late March 2020, I was lucky enough to attend a cellar door tasting at Paringa Estate – Mornington Peninsula.
In the latest 2020 Age Good Food Guide – the restaurant was awarded a presigious ‘Two Chef’s Hats’. If you would like more detailed information on the restaurant, winery and cellar door – check out the link below. The main focus of this post, is a review of the current vintage wines on tasting, as of March 2020.
Paringa Estate was purchased by Lindsay McCall in 1984, when it was a run down apple orchard. Lindsay had no formal qualification as a wine maker. He was a secondary school teacher – who combined his passion for winemaking with his full time teaching duties.
Lindsay’s son Jamie, having studied winemaking on the Peninsula, as well vintages in the U.S and Burgundy, became a qualified winemaker in 2012.
Ahead of the 2017 vintage, Jamie was put in charge of winemaking at Paringa Estate. Growing up as a young boy on the Estate, Jamie is excited to now be following in his father’s footsteps as the ‘next generation’ winemaker.
By the late 1990’s, the wines were starting to get acclaim from the wine media. It is now one of the most highly awarded and recognized wineries on the Mornington Peninsula, as well as all of Victoria.
With a vision to serve cuisine that was of equal quality to his fine wines, Lindsay commissioned an intimate on-site restaurant. Overlooking the undulating vines of Paringa Estate – the restaurant and cellar door are cosy and stylish – to match the intimacy of a visit for fine wining & dining. Booking for lunch is essential. The cellar door however, can not take bookings of more than 10, as it can affect the atmosphere and amenity of the nearby dining area.
It may be fair to say that Lindsay is a perfectionist. The winery has been awarded ‘Winery of the Year’ by James Halliday in the Australian Wine Companion – 2007. ( Lindsay likens this award to being chosen as captain of the Australian cricket team! ) The restaurant has attained 7 consecutive ‘chef’s hats’ in The Age Good Food Guide.
On the northern side of the cellar door / restaurant, there are full size windows overlooking the winery. Nice to see the team hard at work – as you enjoy the fruits of their labour.
The winery is modern in equipment, yet tiny in comparison to many industrial size wineries. It appears much more ‘Burgundian’ in style and scale*.
There are 3 ranges of wines available for cellar door tastings at Paringa Estate.
The standard tasting includes an array of wines with grapes sourced from various vineyards throughout the Mornington Peninsula. These are knows a ‘Penisula Wines’.
The next level is the ‘Estate’ range – all fruit sourced from the Paringa Estate vineyards.
The top of the tree is the ‘Single Vineyard’ range – very small production from the most expressive estate vineyard sites.
Estate Riesling – 2018
One of the rarer varieties planted on the Peninsula, this now mature vineyard was planted in the late 1990’s, with the first vintage being 2002.
This was a lovely start to the tasting – with classical Riesling notes evident up front. Dry, with stoney/ slatey / mineral notes evident. Lemon and lime notes on the palate – with very fresh mouthwatering acidity. Cellar Door Price – $25.
Estate Pinot Gris – 2019
Mature vines again – first vintage 2002. Really enjoyed this wine – Ripe pear with a satisfying fleshiness on the palate. There’s some wild yeast and barrel ferment inputs in the winery – adding to the complexity. On tasting, I thought at the time that this wine represented excellent value – and would be a worthy entry into the Perfect Day Tour’s – Wine of the Month. C.D.P – $25.
Estate Viognier – 2019
A rarity on the Mornington Peninsula, Viognier was once penciled in to be the next ‘great white hope’, to compete against Chardonnay and N.Z Sauvignon Blanc. Didn’t happen.
The reasons Viognier has remained a marginal variety is that, firstly, it can be difficult to pronounce. Another may be that it is hard to grow consistently well. Confusingly for many, it is often blended with Shiraz. All of these teething problems made it hard to get this new brand wine off the ground in Australia. So Pinot Gris/Grigios quickly occupied that segment of the market.
Classical musky notes on the nose. There is also a touch of rosewater and Turkish Delight. A hint of apricot as well. Bright acidity on the finish (Something that Viognier from warmer areas can often struggle to get right). This wine is whole bunch pressed – and then matured in older French oak barrels for 11 months. This wine would be a delight with a modern style Apricot Chicken dish. C.D.P $32.
Peninsula Chardonnay -2018
Fresh, vibrant and racy, subtle fruit notes of nectarine. Even though this is the entry level Chardonnay – it will build in complexity and richness over the next 5 years or so. C.D.P – $29.
Estate Chardonnay – 2018
Typical of the vintage and region for whites, this wine is still nice and fresh – without any overt oaky notes sticking out. A bit more richness and complexity than the Peninsula Chardonnay. Similarly, it need time to develop more richness and complexity. Bring me a bottle in 10 years. C.D.P – $45.
The Paringa Chardonnay (Single Vineyard) – 2018
Sourced from only 9 rows of the best Chardonnay vineyard – this is the Chardonnay that brings home the bacon. Given much love and expense in the winery – with 35% new French oak, the wine reminds us all of why we should be millionaires, and drink wines like this on a more regular basis.
This exemplary wine was made from vines planted in 1984. The most difficult feat to be achieved by any true fine wine is power and restraint – which I was delighted to find here. The fruit spectrum, as you might imagine, is evocative of the summer fruit bowl of locally grown peach and nectarine. Due to the high level of mouthwatering natural acidity – the Paringa Chardonnay undergoes 100% malolactic fermentation. A serious and stunning white wine. Will most likely be drinking very nicely in 10 – 15 years. C.D.P – $80.
Peninsula Pinot Noir – 2018
Straightforward, with strawberry and red fruits to the fore. Well balanced, light bodied, and yet to build further texture and complexity over the next few years. C.D.P $29.
Estate Pinot Noir – 2011 (Back Vintage)
As many of you may be aware – 2011 was one of the coldest and wettest vintages for most of the grape growing regions on the eastern seaboard – including the Mornington Peninsula (It was however one of the best vintages recorded in the West Australian region of Margaret River).
This is an immensely interesting wine to taste- as you can consider the difficulties the growers suffered during this time – and the skills needed to save the vintage – and make some decent wine.
This older Pinot’ is light bodied & lovely. The colour shows a fragile, autumnal hue – which most red wine drinkers would find challenging. The palate however shows no under ripe / green capsicum notes. Rather, it has a welcome basket of red spices, while being meaty and savoury due to time in bottle. Not for everyone, but a triumph for what can be achieve in the vineyard and winery in a wet and cold year. C.D.P $65.
Estate Pinot Noir – 2016
Cherry and spice.The palate is well structured, with good palate weight. medium bodied with a ‘fleshy’ texture. Expressive of a very good vintage. In the winery, 38% of new French oak was used. C.D.P $65
The Paringa Pinot Noir (Single Vineyard) – 2017
This single vineyard wine has such a consistent record, that it is classified as ‘Excellent’ in the ‘Langton’s Classification of Australian Wines‘. I was struck with how this wine builds gradually on the palate. Medium bodied, but elegant and long. Very complex. The well earned prestige and collectability of this wine has contributed to the upward price bump. C.D.P $100.
Peninsula Shiraz – 2017
There is a welcome whiff of cool climate pepper. I have found this in many 2017 Shiraz/Syrah from the Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley. The 2018 vintage being warmer – does not show as much ‘pepperiness’.
This wine was co – fermented with 5% Viognier, a technique that emanates from the Northern Rhone. Used correctly and it adds softness to the palate, and a sheen to the colour. Used incorrectly, and the Viognier can make Shiraz smell of apricots, and make the palate too soft or flabby. Happy to report that the Viognier is hardly even noticable – just as it should be. The tannins are still quite pronounced – the wine will soften and become more complete with a few years in the cellar. C.D.P $29
Estate Shiraz – 2016
Blackberry and a hint of pepper make a great combination at the start. Given 18 months in French oak (28% new), the fine grained tannins will integrate in time. This wine would be lovely now with a seared lamb chop, as the protein and fat would tame and soften the tannins. Will continue to build complexity over many years. C.D.P $50
The Paringa Shiraz (Single Vineyard) – 2018
The vines here are 35 years old. Interestingly, the oak regime has been trimmed from 50% new, down to 40% new French oak. This allows the fruit to be more expressive of the vintage – without being unduly influenced by the oak.
There are enticing aromas of blackberry and liquorice. The tannins are still quite grippy, as you would expect for wine with this power and length. The oak integration is seamless – I would love to reacquaint myself with this wine in 10 – 15 years. C.D.P $80
* Burgundian in style refers to – where each small producer makes their own small amount of wine – perhaps helping out some of the other locals as well, but never mass producing.
I hope you enjoyed the review – and would love to take you on a Perfect Day Tour to Paringa Estate for a wonderful cellar door experience – or perhaps dinner in the restaurant?
Please find below the latest information – applicable from 1st of June. This information is from the official Victorian Government Guidelines.
Hopefully by 22nd of June there will be more easing of restrictions. I will keep you updated if the situation changes.
“What about cellar doors at wineries? What restrictions apply?
Official Government Response.
“Victoria’s winery restaurants and cafes can resume dine-in service, so long as they are meeting the requirements outlined by the Chief Health Officer including patron limits, physical distancing, signage and hygiene.
For those wineries with a restaurant or cafe they will be able to sell alcohol by the bottle and glass or sell a wine tasting experience if they are serving with a seated meal. In addition, they can sell full bottles from their cellar doors for consumption away from the premise.
As part of this sales process, where the liquor license
permits it, a cellar door may also choose to offer free samples of its produce to a seated customer to help the customer choose what to buy – but they will not be able to sell a tasting or wine by the glass, unless it is accompanied by a seated meal”.
Things are slowly starting to slowly improve for Victorian wine lovers!
As of today – the cellar door @ Giant Steps, Healsville Yarra Valley, is open for tastings. Please note, that due to social distancing regulations, only 6 people at a time can visit the cellar door.
Please find details below – as sent to me by our friends @ Giant Steps.
“We’ll all remember 1st June 2020 for many years to come and yes, we are relieved that once again we can share our wines with you.
Our cellar door will be open from Monday 1st -Thursday 4th June by appointment only. Over the long weekend, Friday 5th to Monday 8th June we will be open from 11am – 4pm.
Bookings are recommended as our ‘pop up’ cellar door has a capacity of 6 customers only!
We have our Covid-19 protocols in place to keep you and our team safe so …”
I am confident that over the next fortnight, we will be able to start booking smaller tours (2 – 6 people).
All being well, the next stage will allow us to book up to 10 happy Perfect Day Tour customers.