Giant Steps Single Vineyard Tasting – 2018 Vintage.

A PDT Connoisseurs Tour. Enjoying a Giant Steps Single Vineyard Master Class  at the new tasting room. December 4th 2019.

I was delighted to finally get the opportunity to partake in a masterclass tasting at the recently relocated Giant Steps tasting room on 9th of December 2019. The new venue is above Habituel Bakery 314 Maroondah Hwy, Healsville, Yarra Valley.

I have been taking small groups for visits with PDT – but hadn’t yet had the chance for a personal tasting. Finally I had time the to visit on a day off!

This impressively appointed tasting room is merely a ‘pop up’ destination, as long term there will be a purpose built tasting room at the iconic Sexton Vineyard, Gruyere. They have good neighbours, with the iconic vineyards of Yarra Yering to the west.

The house style, if you like, of Giant Steps has traditionally involved using 20% new French oak, and 80% older French oak for the single vineyard Chardonnays. The single vineyard Pinots, however, generally range between 8% and 25% new wood – depending on vineyard and vintage. This high percentage of older oak is to allow  the pure fruit of the vineyard to be expressed –  without a heavy oak influence on flavour and aroma.

The Yarra Valley range (estate blend), is wound back another notch – with only 10% new, and 90% older barrels. Once again – the aim is to let the pristine fruit do the talking. It also makes great economic sense – as the cost of new French barrels can be upward of $1200 a piece. Happily, this helps to keep the cost of the Yarra Valley range pretty sharp.


Tasting Notes.

2018 Tarraford Vineyard Chardonnay.

Stonefruit and greengage  – good length. Very nice drive on the back palate. Will continue to evolve and reveal buried treasures with patience and time. Cellar Door – $50.

2018 Wombat Creek Vineyard Chardonnay.

New season Granny Smith apple aromas – flowing onto the palate. Bracing fresh acidity from the cooler climate vineyard (450m above sea level). The Wombat Creek vineyard has the cooling influence of a rain forest to the south east.It reminds me of what the Chablis producers might describe as “a little bit cripsy”. Delicious. Cellar Door – $50.

Ocurinas – gently circulate the chardonnay to develop complex aromas and flavours due to the yeast lees contact. No oak is used in these wines.

2019 ‘Ocarina’ Chardonnay.

Just released. No Oak is used in the production or maturation of the Ocarina Chardonnay. The wine is instead matured in beautiful looking, egg shaped clay vessels.  The wine is unfiltered, and as such, has a slight haziness. The wine has a complex character, due in part to yeasty, leesy notes (think yoghurt soft, fresh cheese), as the wine gently circulates on the lees in the  clay ocarinas. Back to the future – as wine was made over 1000 years ago. Happily now  without any spoilage bacteria. Delicious and complex. Cellar Door – $60.

2018 Sexton Vineyard Pinot Noir.

Perfumed with a lift of red fruits. Medium bodied with a gentle fresh finish, complimented by fine tannins. I notice that I have also written ‘Wow!’ in my tasting notes on the day. I think that translates as ‘Really Good’.  Cellar Door – $60.

2018 Applejack Vineyard Pinot Noir.

More full bodied than the Sexton. Dark cherry, with lovely mid palate richness. A touch of bacon fat / charcuterie at the finish. Cellar Door – $60.

Winner of the 2019 ‘Australian Pinot Noir Challenge’ – Primavera Vineyard Pinor Noir – 2018.

2018 Primavera Vineyard Pinot Noir.

A trophy, a bottle, a glass, happy days!

Absolutely beautiful fruit on the nose. Dark cherry and complex alluring notes – the wine whispers “Come drink me.” Medium bodied with great length, that unfolds with velvety tannins. Demure and delicate with poise and presence. Wow. All MV6 clones. Captivating and delicious. Cellar Door – $60.



As well as a worthy winner of the 2019 Australian Pinot Noir Challenge, it may well be a serious contender for the Inaugural  Perfect Day Tours ‘Wine of the Year’. I’ll keep you posted.




2018 Tarraford Vineyard Syrah.

An exemplar of the New World Syrah style. Arising from a warmer vintage, there is less of the classical cool climate white pepper notes on the nose. There is however perfectly ripened, bright dark fruits, still retaining natural acidity. The medium bodied palate shows delicacy, with fine grained tannins that are soft yet persistent. The olderFrench oak gently frames the wine, allowing a soft complexity, but never dominating. Bargain Alert! Cellar Door – $50.


2018 Known Pleasures Mclaren Vale Shiraz.

Emanating from a vineyard in the Southern Mclaren Vale region of South Australia – to  which Giant Steps have exclusive access.

O.K. So this really highlights the stylistic differences between Syrah and Shiraz! This is a wine that your ‘Big Red’ lover will appreciate. A distinct and clever counterpoint to the  cooler Yarra Valley style.  Medium to full bodied, with ripe dark fruits, and coffee/ chocolatey notes on the soft finish. Cellar Door –  $60.

2018 Harry’s Monster – Sexton Vineyard Red Blend.

A brilliant  Bordeaux ‘Claret’ style. Predominantly Merlot this vintage, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Verdot helping the team to shine. Stories abound regarding the ‘Harry’s Monster’ reference. Some refer to it as a way of keeping young’uns out of the vineyards. The story I am more comfortable with, is the crayon drawing that featured on the label of the very first Harry’s Monster. It was drawn at the time by 3 year old Harry, son of Giant Step’s owner and founder Phil Sexton. When asked about the drawing, Harry replied that it was a monster. I think that first vintage was in the early 2000’s.

The Iconic Sexton Vineyard. Soon to be home to the Giant Steps Tasting Room.

The elements of this wine are sourced form the prestigious Sexton’s Vineyard in Gruyere, Yarra Valley. This picturesque site will in time become the cellar door and ‘experience centre’ of Giant Steps. It looks to be a visionary step forward from this progressive company.

Harry’s Monster is all lovely things to connoisseurs  of Bordeaux style blends. Aromas of subtle blackcurrant, Harry’s Monster is well chiselled and aristocratic. Not a silken hair out of place. Medium bodied with definitive length. Polished fine grained tannins to finish. A shining example of how elegant Yarra Valley ‘Bordeaux style’ blends can be. CDP – $55.

I would love to take you and a few well chosen friends, on a Perfect Day Tour to explore the charms of Giant Steps & the Yarra Valley.

To find out more about Giant Steps – Yarra Valley, just click on the link below.

Posted in News and Updates

December Wine of the Month – Helen & Joey ‘Wayward Child’ White – 2018

Steve & Bruce.

If popularity and sheer foot traffic were any indication, Helen & Joey, located at Gruyere , Yarra Valley,  seem to have the Midas Touch.

Hugely popular with the so called ‘Millennials’, H&J boast stunning panoramic views of Coldstream and Gruyere, spanning 200 acres of vineyards, farmland and forests. The majestic Great Dividing Range adds a wonderful backdrop to the bucolic landscape.

Unicorns are the ‘shtick’ at Helen & Joey – very popular with the young ladies for photo opportunities.

Poor old Bruce  – the most senior of the Unicorn Mob, is looking somewhat the worse for wear, after being mounted by numerous and multiple Hen’s Parties and other celebratory groups.

Unfortunately Bruce no longer always boasts his big red horn, as it has been displaced by the pressure brought to bear by the enthusiastic groping thereof.

We all hope, for Bruce’s sake, that his big red horn is permanently  re-affixed as soon as unicornally possible.

Having one of the best and brightest winemakers in the Yarra Valley, if not Australia, Helen & Joey also make some pretty decent wines.

Senior Winemaker Meg Brodtmann was the first Australian female to attain the highest achievement in the international wine world  – ‘Master of Wine’, in 2002.


A treasured photo with Meg Brodtmann, M.W. at Helen & Joey

Having studied under Meg to attain my W.S.E.T level 3 qualification – I can assure you that she is incredibly knowledgeable on anything to do with wine, both in Australia and internationally.



The Wine.

Wayward Child ‘Ilion’ – Sauvignon Blanc / Semillon – 2018

The juice from this field blend was pressed directly to large barrels, where it underwent wild yeast fermentation. It remained in oak for 9 months, ageing on yeast lees.


Deeper in colour than most blends of this kind, due to the 9 months resting in oak. There are complex floral aromas of lavender, and nougat, due to the influence of the yeast lees and wild ferment.

The palate displays soft, mouth filling notes of stone fruit and citrus. The flavours build, finishing with mouthwatering acidity. Even though the acids are prominent, they are soft and gentle, due to the lees contact and barrel ageing.

The yeasty / leesy note on the mid palate helps to round out the wine.

The Ilion pairs well with homemade vegetable and pearl barley soup. I make the vegie stock for the soup from scratch, so take it pretty seriously!

The Ilion is a beautifully balanced wine – and so different from most white blends from these grape varieties. There is a level of complexity and nuance due to the love and time given in the winery.

The Wayward Child Ilion 2018 is available at Helen & Joey Estate, and on line. It sells for $35 per bottle.

Official Score out of 100.

Superior Deliciousness!



Posted in News and Updates

November Wine of the Month – Medhurst Pinot Noir 2018

The Medhurst winery and vineyards are tucked away on the enchanting Medhurst Road, in sub region of Gruyere Yarra Valley. With recognition for excellence at the Victorian Architectural awards, the winery and recently re imagined cellar door are well worth the visit. Not to mentioned the delicious wines.

Simon Steele is the winemaker. His previous gig was the highly respected winemaker at Brokenwood, Hunter Valley.

Much like Sarah Crowe, 2019 Halliday’s ‘Winemaker of the Year’ at Yarra Yering, Simon has migrated south from the hot and humid Hunter to make ‘proper’ wines. Those of the cooler climate styles. (It’s o.k. The various wine regions and states are always taking the ‘P’ out of each other. Just a joke. Well, half a joke).

After more rain than was required in December –  January,February and March proved to be warm and dry, without excessive spikes of heat to stress the vines.

The wine was matured for 10 months in French Oak barrels (30% new), and the clone is exclusively MV6.

PDT Tasting Note.

Having been bottled in February 2019, the colour is bright and vibrant, with youthful purple hues still dominant.

Fresh red fruits, subtle violets and spice greet the nose, and thankfully, flow through the palate.

Medium bodied, with a fresh and moreish tang from natural acidity.

After trying this wine again after 24 hours, I was delighted  to find that there were more enticing elements to discover. The wine showed more roundness and softness on day 2, and had more glycerol richness – due to the acidity becoming more integrated with  aeration.

The tannins are soft and fine grained , with a well integrated lift of natural acid on the finish.

Due to my tasting over 2 days, I would recommend keeping the wine for at least another 6 months to show at its best. It will continue to evolve over 5 -8 years.

The Medhurst 2018 Pinot Noir is available at the Cellar Door for $44 per bottle.


Official Score Out of 100.

Increasingly Delicious.

Disclosure – I was given a sample bottle of this  recently released wine for review purposes.

I was happy to review the wine and include it in the PDT Wine of the Month, due its high quality and recent release.

I am always looking for new vintage and diverse wine styles to review, as our happy PDT customers will taste on a tour.






Posted in News and Updates

Four Pillars Gin Tasting – Healsville Yarra Valley

B.P. from Four Pillars & Steve from PDT.
B.P from Four Pillars & Steve from PDT.

On Monday 18th of November, a day off from a Perfect Day Tour, I had a chance to indulge in a tasting at Four Pillars Gin Distillery in Healsville Yarra Valley.

As a dear friend of mine had a visitor from the U.S staying with him, who also happened to be a big gin fan, I offered to take them on a casual visit to Four Pillars.

I asked for B.P. to host our tasting, as he is always entertaining and conducts a friendly, informative session.

I hasten to add that all of the team members at Four Pillars conduct wonderful tastings. It  is just that I have developed a comfortable and friendly rapport with B.P over the last 2 years, so he was a good fit for the tasting.

After the tasting, my friends bought a bottle of the original Four Pillars Gin – and enjoyed classy Gin & Tonics that evening.

Thanks B.P. and all at Four Pillars, we all had a wonderful time with you.

We love taking our happy customers to Four Pillars, so if you love gin, check out their link below – and we can craft a bespoke tour for you.


Posted in News and Updates

Tour on Saturday November 9 – Yarra Valley.

On Saturday November 9th, I was delighted to host a group of ladies celebrating a birthday, and looking for a fun day out in the Yarra Valley.

We kicked off the festivities with a wonderful tasting at Warramunda Estate, in Coldstream Yarra Valley.

As usual, Owner Rob conducted a spectacular tasting, including his offering of Manchego cheese, and also Prosciutto di Parma, to accompany the newly released Warramunda Estate Pinot Noir 2017.

Warramunda Owner Rob Magdziarz, conducting a fabulous tasting of Warramunda Estate and Liv Zak wines.

Outside at Warramunda Estate.After purchasing a few bottles of fantastic wine from Warramunda Estate, it was off to Oakridge Winery.

On the deck at Oakridge.

Oakridge Winery is just next door, at the famous address of 864 Maroondah Highway, Not too far to travel for more wine and fun.

Here I am imposing myself in this photo, on the deck at Oakridge. As you may notice on the left, we had a few guests in the shot. They are obviously well practiced in the subtle art of social media.

After so much wine tasting – Lunch was most welcome. Shared antipasti platters, followed by gourmet wood fired pizzas  were consumed with great relish. Not the spreadable kind – I’m sure you know what I mean.

Lunch and wine tasting at Killara Estate – Seville East,Upper Yarra Valley.

Not a bad start to lunch. Antipasti platters at Killara Estate.

Killara also features striking views of the surrounding  vineyards, as well as the Great Dividing Range to the north, and the Warburton Ranges to the south.

The next 2  photos were  taken after lunch at Killara Estate. You can just see the majestic mountain range in the background, although it was misty and overcast. Perfect conditions for wine tasting.

The next shot taken just before we headed to our final destination,

Helen and Joey, Gruyere Yarra Valley.The ladies enjoyed the wonderful hospitality at Helen and Joey, as well as taking in the sweeping views of the 200 acre property, comprising vineyards, farmland and native forest. Not to mention a safe haven for the Unicorns, found at various locations around the property.

How much did this fabulous day cost, I hear you ask?

$110 per head.

I know.

Posted in News and Updates

Smaller Group Tours – Update

I have enjoyed hosting many smaller group tours of late – from 2 people up to 6. Here are a few photos to capture the fun and enjoyment of these Perfect Day Tours.

Martin gave our group a great tasting at Domaine Chandon as a first venue for tastings.
Martin giving an entertaining tasting to PDT group at Chandon. Always a great way to start the day.

As keen wine lovers are finding out, the ‘Connoisseurs Tour’ is one of the best value tours, as you usually don’t pay for the tastings.

This is because the Connoisseurs Tour is all about tasting and buying great wine, either a bottle or 2, or a case or 2!

Delicious shared plates at Meletos, St. Huberts Road Yarra Valley. I can vouch for the deliciousness, as I was lucky enough to be at the table. Yes, they are my sun glasses.
Always great fun @ Helen and Joey. The big Unicorn in the back is named ‘Bruce’.


This photo features Suzy in the background. She always gives a great tasting at Warramunda Estate. This was among the groups favorites for the day. Beautiful wine. They all bought a bottle or 2.

This happy group above chose a ‘Pay as you Go’ option. The only thing  booked in was lunch at Innocent Bystander, and the rest of the day, we visited as many destinations as we could fit in. What fun. They said it was ‘the best day ever’. Thanks guys!

Posted in News and Updates

Sunday – Small Group Super Special! – 10th November.

We have availability this Sunday for a last minute amazing offer to the Yarra Valley!

4 people – tastings at 3 Premium Wineries are included in the price.

Lunch is your call. Lunch is not included in the offer, but happy to suggest where you may like to go. From Cheap and Cheerful  – up to Fine Dining?

We can cover all bases. What would you like to do for lunch?

Full day private tour for 4 lucky people – ex CBD 

$115 per person.


Full Day private tour for 4 lucky people – ex Lilydale Railway Station

$99 per person.

Why not get a few of your best wine friends together for this fantastic opportunity to taste some of the best wines in the Valley, and have a relaxing day – while I do the driving and organizing?

Oh did I mention tastings are included in the price?

Don’t you deserve this?



Posted in News and Updates

Connoisseurs Tour – October 19th, 2019

Happily, PDT are receiving more requests for smaller, Connoisseurs Tours, as outlined on the Tour Types and Packages pages of the website.

I was delighted to host a group from Sydney on Saturday 19th of October, who were keen to try a few of my suggestions for outstanding small producer wines – at a reasonable price.

These lucky people are seen here enjoying a wonderful tasting at Pimpernel Winery. They have 2 glasses each – as this part of the tasting is to show the differnce between Pinot Noir 1, and Pinot 2, both grown and produced at Pimpernel, Coldstream Yarra Valley. With the Connoisseurs Tours, I try to set up appointments to meet the winemakers and family members / owners.

The great thing about these tours are that they are such great value. Tasting fees are not charged if you purchase a few bottles – and 10% discount applies at selected wineries, even if only 1 or 2 bottle are purchased.

Thanks you to Daniel’s group (pictured), for such a glowing review of your tour on Trip Advisor and Google my Business.

Although you had a few suggestions of your own – it was nice to read that my suggested wineries were your favorites!

I hope we can get you back for another tour soon.


Posted in News and Updates

Steve Noel – ‘Children of the Grape’ – Yarra Valley Tour

On Friday 4th of October, I was delighted to host American wine blogger and publisher, Steve Noel on a special Yarra Valley Tour.

How Steve found Perfect Day Tours among the myriad of Yarra Valley Tour web pages, I have no idea.

However, find us he did – and after checking out our website – Steve was confident that we would be a good fit for organizing a bespoke snapshot tasting of some of the  small to medium producers in the Yarra Valley.

Steve was flying to Australia for the annual Wine Media Conference in the Hunter Valley NSW. This is the first year that the event has been hosted in Australia.

The event was sponsored by the following.

Wine Australia
Wine Communicators of Australia
Destination New South Wales
Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association
NSW Wine Industry Association
Destination Sydney Surrounds North
Royal Agricultural Society of NSW

Prior to his sojourn north from Melbourne to the conference, Steve was keen to discover the cooler climate wines of the Yarra Yalley.

Fresh, (if that’s the right word), from his flight from the U.S, I picked Steve up from his hotel in the Melbourne CBD, where he had arrived about an hour prior.

Our first appointment was the ever reliable Warramunda Estate, Coldstream Yarra Valley. An extensive tasting, hosted by Olivier (Liv Zak range), was warmly received. A great start to the day. It adds interest and depth to highlight the two distinct ranges,’ Liv Zak’ and ‘Warramunda Estate’. Not to mention the Maranchego cheese and real Prosciutto d’ Parma as part of the delights of the tasting.

Next it was off to Oakridge Winery, Coldstream, where Cellar Door Manager Matt was waiting to show Steve the expressive range of vineyard specific wines that Oakridge specialize in. Matt even brought out the ‘big guns’ of the iconic Oakridge ‘864’ range. See photo.







Mushroom Pizza at Coldstream Brewery, Yarra Valley. Bellisimo!

Time for lunch and a coffee. I recommended the mushroom pizza at Coldstream Brewery for lunch. As always, it did not disappoint. The best part was that Steve ‘got’ lunch. It made the pizza taste even better.

Refreshed and refueled after our delicious pizza, it was off to Pimpernel Winery. Wine maker Damien was waiting to host Steve through a magical tasting of their extensive range. The wines at Pimpernel are full of character and regional expression. I find they are some of the most impressive produced in the Yarra Valley. Pimpernel showcases a most eclectic range. For further information, please see PDT October ‘Wine of the Month’ for a review and tasting note of the GSM 2015. It also gives a brief outline of the Pimpernel philosophy and winemaking philosophy.

Check out Steve’s blog ‘Children of the Grape’

Children of the grape help to demystify the sometimes confusing terminology around wine and wine tasting.

It is an honest, refreshing take on the world of wine – without the jargon that can often be found in wine writing.

Thanks Steve – let’s do it again soon.

Perhaps the Magnificent Mornington Peninsula, or the Mystical Macedon Ranges next time?

A quick visit to the idiosyncratic Madden’s Rise was just the ticket to round out the day. Madden’s Rise have a superb range of interesting blends,both red and white, as well as the standard Chardonnay and Pinot Noir offering. The Nebbiolo is a welcome string in their extensive bow.

Time to head back to Melbourne – Steve was still in great shape. Perhaps an early night was on the cards?

Posted in News and Updates

Yarra Valley Budget Tour – $99 each for 10 People!

Due to the popularity of our Mornington Peninsula Budget Tour, we are now offering a similar amazingly priced tour for the Yarra Valley!

Released on 22nd of December – For a limited time, until fully allocated.

Here’s the deal.

A full day private tour.

Visit 3 premium Yarra Valley wineries /cellar doors.

Gourmet wood fired pizza lunch at Coldstream Brewery.

This amazing offer includes all wine tastings and lunch.

Drinks with lunch are not included in this deal, but can be purchased from the bar.

What do you think?


One of the best pizzas in the Yarra Valley.

Mushroom Pizza from Coldstream Brewery.


*Upgrade  this Budget Tour offer to a ‘Budget Plus’ Tour option, for just a further $15 per person. The Budget Plus lunch includes wine tasting & glass of wine with lunch. It also features a 2 course meal of shared charcuterie platters and delicious wood fired pizza at Killara Estate Winery. Bellisimo!

For CBD pick up, the location could be either of the following.

Princess Theatre  – Spring St. Melbourne.

Federation Square Bus & Coach Pick Up – Drop Off Zone, Russell Ct.

For your convenience – find below pricing scale for smaller groups who may interested in the same great value Perfect Day Tour.

Please note – the prices listed below are as ‘Per Person’.

Budget Tour Offer                      Budget Plus Tour Offer 

Coldstream Brewery                       Killara Estate Lunch

(Includes wine tasting and glass of wine)

10 people – $99                               10 people – $114

9 people – $106                                9 people –  $121

8 people – $115                                8 people – $130

7 people – $125                                7 people – $140

6 people – $135                               6 people – $150

Posted in News and Updates1 Comment on Yarra Valley Budget Tour – $99 each for 10 People!