Paringa Estate – Mornington Peninsula. Tasting Notes & Update.

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.

Paringa Estate Cellar Door & Restaurant. Red Hill South – Morning 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 Paringa Estate winery – views from cellar door / winery area. The tiny open fermenters are only 10,000 litres in capacity. This is a small scale production of very high quality.

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.

 Tasting Notes


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

The difference is now more obvious between the Estate range on the left – and the Peninsula range on the right. 2017 is the first release of the new blue label for the Peninsula range.


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?


Posted in News and Updates

Current Covid 19 Restrictions in Victoria – Cellar Doors/Wineries.

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”.

Posted in News and Updates

Giant Steps Cellar Door – now open by appointment.

Things are slowly starting to slowly improve for Victorian wine lovers!

Award winning ‘Tarraford Vineyard’ Pinot Noir – 2017 vintage. Giant Steps – Yarra Valley.

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.

Posted in News and Updates

Resumption of Perfect Day Tours

Thank you to everyone who has sent a request for a tour in the near future.

Ripening Merlot grapes. One of the few vineyards to grow Merlot in the Yarra Valley – Dominique Portet.

I am hoping that in the next week or so, we will get some clarity as to when and how we can resume. Most of the cellar doors, cafes and restaurants are still not able to open to the public.

It is frustrating that we all want to get out to the Yarra Valley, or the ‘Peninsula, and have some fun with our friends and families.

Please feel free to send me a request via the website – and I will let you know as soon as we are able to get the ball rolling again.

Meanwhile, I have just uploaded a blog post on one of the most asked questions on the tours, and that is “What is the difference between Shiraz & Syrah?” If you are interested – please have a look, and let me know what you think.

I am looking forward to hosting you all on a Perfect Day Tour very soon.


Steve Alexander.

Posted in News and Updates

You say Syrah – I say Shiraz?

Dappled Vineyard Syrah 2018 – Yarra Valley. Awarded ‘Best New Winery’ – James Halliday. Winemaker & owner – Shaun Crinion.


One of the questions most asked by customers on a Perfect Day Tour is “What’s the difference between Shiraz and Syrah?” With so many cellar doors and wineries offering one or the other, it is a topic I would like to explore, and hopefully demystify.

As both wine styles emanate from the same grape, the differences can include climate, elevation, oak regimes, alcohol content, harvesting / picking times, and even marketing trends and opportunities –  to name but a few.

It is understandable that many winemakers in the cooler regions are keen to draw a distinction between the  warmer climate ‘Big Aussie Shiraz’ – and their own more subtle offerings.

The first thing to be aware of is that the so called ‘Spiritual Home’ of Syrah is on the majestically high, stony and severely steep hills of the Northern Rhone, south of Lyon, France.

Traditional thoughts on the origins of Syrah are that the noble grape may have it’s origins in Syracuse, Sicily – or Ancient Persia.

According to The Oxford Companion to Wine – a more likely theory is that Syrah may in fact be indigenous to the Rhone Valley.  As a direct descendant of the local Vitis allobrogica, this vine is known to have produced fine wine since Roman times.

A true regional French Syrah. 2010 ‘Saint Joseph’ I only opened this for the subject of the article. Lovely medium bodied texture, a whiff of pepper, and good length. Needs food, as it is quite dry.

Two of the most famous villages in the Northern Rhone for producing strapping Syrah are Hermitage, and more recently Cote Rotie. Likewise the appellation of Cornas produces long lived wine, which like all great Syrah, should not even be considered for drinking for at least 5 years after bottling. Less concentrated wines can be found in Saint Joseph. Finally, Crozes – Hermitage, at the bottom of the hill, produces the largest volume – but least concentrated wine of these five major appellations.

An important fact to remember is that in the cooler and hillier Northern Rhone, Syrah is seldom blended (with the exception of an occasional splash of Viognier). The warmer and much flatter Southern Rhone however, has an increasing amount of Syrah under vine – and it is always blended. It is usually added to Grenache and Mourvedre. The warmer Southern Rhone, with it’s traditional Cotes-du-Rhone blend,  has inspired the South Australian regions of the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale amongst others, to release their own version of these three blended grapes, colloquially known as G.S.M.  (Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvedre).

It is understood that in 1832, the botanist James Busby brought Syrah cuttings from France to Sydney, New South Wales, where it soon took a liking to the warm area of the Hunter Valley. In little time it became known in here as Shiraz.

Traditionally in Australia, Shiraz has been planted in warm areas – as it requires relatively high sunlight hours to ripen fully. This has led to the typical ‘Aussie Shiraz’ being high in alcohol (14 – 16%), full bodied, often smelling and tasting of blackberry jam and strong vanilla. The Australian Shiraz model has often been matured in newer American oak barrels – adding a strong overlay of ‘Cherry Ripe’ –  sweet fruit, chocolate and sometimes coconut.

In the cooler regions of Australia, and indeed New Zealand, many winemakers are leaning more towards the classical, elegant Syrah style. These wines are always matured in French oak barrels, to avoid obvious vanillin/oaky influences on the wine. The barrels may be only 30% new, with the balance being second and third use, to avoid the oak dominating the wine. The best producers are able to make medium bodied wines, with a savoury edge. The dark fruits are part of the story, but do not dominate with over ripeness or jamminess. Sometimes, particularly in cooler years (like 2017), a wonderful whiff of black, white, or green peppercorns can be detected. Some of my favorite Victorian Syrah producers include the Yarra Valley wineries of Warramunda Estate, Oakridge Wines & Giant Steps. From the Mornington Peninsula – Yabby Lake Winery make a wonderful Syrah.

One of the most fundamental advantages of cool climate Shiraz / Syrah, is that due to the slower, longer ripening period, the wines can maintain more of their natural acidity. Natural (tartaric) acid from the grapes helps makes the wines refreshing and delicious with a wide range of food. Yum.

As with most things in a complex world, there is nuance and exceptions to the rule. Many traditional cool climate producers have been making wonderful Shiraz for decades – long before Syrah was a word used in Australia. The Victorian Shirazes from Best’s  – Great Western, Scotchman’s Hill – Bellarine Peninsula, Seville Estate – Yarra Valley & Knights Granite Hills – Macedon Ranges (among many others), are all long standing makers of beautiful, elegant, cool climate Shiraz.


In a nutshell – I would contend that Syrah is pretty much cool climate Shiraz. Or would it be more correct to assert that Shiraz is simply warm climate Syrah? Either way, the main differences are as follows.


Syrah Style in Australia.

Usually from cooler areas including Southern Victoria. The Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula, and Geelong / Bellarine Peninsula produce high quality Syrah style wines. Tasmania is becoming recognized for the style as well.

Matured in French oak.

Savoury aromas, including pepper, smallgoods / charcuterie.

Usually has minimum, or no added tartaric acid.

Medium bodied.

Medium alcohol (12.5 – 14%).


Traditional Australian Shiraz Style in Australia.

Often from a warmer climate, such as South Australian – Barossa Valley, Mclaren Vale.

Matured in American Oak.

Often has added tartaric acid to balance to wine.

Aromas and flavours may include – very ripe blackberry / blackberry jam.

Sometimes strong aromas  of toast and vanilla.

Full bodied.

High in alcohol (14 – 16%).


I hope this has helps in clarifying the difference between these 2 wonderful wine styles. And by the way – you are free to enjoy both! It is not a competition, so now you know the difference, you will get even more pleasure from your Shiraz / Syrah.

Happy drinking – and don’t forget to book a Perfect Day Tour to explore our wonderful cool climate wines.



The Oxford Companion to Wine – edited by Jancis Robinson

The World Atlas of Wine – by Hugh Johnson & Jancis Robinson



Posted in News and Updates

Perfect 30th Birthday Celebration – just $99 per head.

If this isn’t the best value tour on the Mornington Peninsula or Yarra Valley, I’d love to know what is!

Only $99 per head –  for 11 people (max) –  for a full day of wine tasting and great food?

Are you kidding ?!?!

Having been out of action for the past two months with an unfortunate knee injury, I was delighted to host a wonderful group of ladies, celebrating a 30th birthday.

Our first appointment was at Quealy Winemakers. Always atmospheric and inviting, this small cellar door concentrates on an intimate tasting of their unique wines. Large and beautiful glassware adds to the theatre and atmosphere of the tasting.

The freshly baked sourdough and home grown olive oil was devoured with relish.

The ladies enjoyed the variety, and purchased a few bottles to enjoy with their much anticipated BYO (local wines) lunch.

Outside our first cellar door – Quealy Winemakers.

One of the interesting facts regarding Quealy, is that Kathleen Quealy, with her husband Kevin, introduced Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio into Australia. Prior to that, Pinot Gris was grown predominantly in France, most commonly in Alsace region.

Pinot Grigios have traditionally been grown in Italy. It is interesting to note that Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are in fact the same grape variety. The French have traditionally allowed the grapes to ripen on the vine a little longer, often giving riper, more aromatic and medium bodied wine.

Pinot Grigio, as the Italians call the variety, is usually picked a week or two earlier. This helps retain more natural acidity, with less aromatics. The Italians generally prefer their white wines to have a high level of palate cleansing acidity, and low aromatics, to compliment regional cuisine.

O.K.  – so now we know all about the difference between Pinot Gris and Grigio, it is worth noting that Kathleen and Kevin established the famous T’Gallant Winery in the early1990’s. This business was subsequently sold to Treasury Wine Estates. Kevin remained at T’Gallant until 2014.


Our second visit was to one of the most popular cellar doors for larger groups on the Mornington Peninsula – Red Hill Estate. Even though it was very busy, the guests really enjoyed the experience as well as the wines. More delicious wine was purchased for lunch, namely Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Shiraz.


After tastings at 2 wonderful cellar doors – lunch was highly anticipated. We enjoyed a semi private dining area at Greek inspired Food on the Hill. The shared plates of traditional dips, cheeses, olives and bread were most welcome. This was then followed by slow cooked lamb and chicken to share – with fresh Greek salad.

The wines, carefully chosen at the previous 2 wineries, were a Perfect accompaniment to the delicious lunch. Vegetarians and Vegan options are also available.

Generous shared plates for 2 of slow cooked lamb shoulder, chicken and salads.


Semi Private Dining Room with a long table for celebrations at Food on the Hill.


After a delicious and plentiful lunch – washed down with hand picked wine, we headed off to Dromana Estate for our final winery visit. We all enjoyed a leisurely tasting in the outdoor garden (I had coffee).

The ladies were generous enough to allow me into this shot for a final photo – on the beautiful lawns at Dromana Estate.

Thanks for a great day ladies – and  for being kind to me on my first tour for 2 months.

Dromana Estate. Hope you had a great 30th birthday celebration ‘G’.
Posted in News and Updates

New – Healsville No.7 – Featuring ‘Tilly J’ Pinot Noir – 2019

No.7 Healsville is an exciting new destination and business venture conceptualized and sponsored by family behind the Meletos / Stones of the Yarra Valley enterprises.

No. 7 is a magnificently re-purposed warehouse at 7 Lilydale Road – Healsville. Now tastefully featuring European style exposed brick and reclaimed multi pane arch windows on the interior, this new space is instantly inviting. Due to the tastefully distressed features, it feels as if it has been here forever, however the interior was only completed in 2019.

The impressive new space boasts a state of the art communal winery, restaurant / café and event space. It is dedicated to giving the next generation of Yarra Yalley winemakers the facilities and technical ‘kit’ they need to help in their quest to make beautiful Yarra Valley wine.

Notably the first such program of its kind in Australia; Damian North (Journey Wines), and Behn Payten (Payten & Jones, Four Pillars), have been chosen to oversee and guide those on the Healsville No.7  Young Winemakers Program.

The previous nondescript concrete car park at No.7 has only just been converted to a European style courtyard and outdoor dining space – complete with long tables, mature olive trees, shade umbrellas and 2 huge industrial fans – to breathe some sweet relief on the warm days ahead.

Once on the lonely edge of the industrial estate, at the western end of the township, Lilydale Road is now a rockin’ little precinct; featuring now world famous Four Pillars Gin Distillery, the idiosyncratic Paynton & Jones Cellar Door, and now No.7. You could easily spend the best part of a lazy day in Lilydale Road – as long as someone else was doing the driving.

Perhaps you could start with a comprehensive tasting at Paynten & Jones, followed by a cheeky glass of their delicious Sangiovese? Pop next door to No.7 for a coffee and cake of your choice – and make a lunch reservation. Now it’s off over the road to Four Pillars, for an informative and fun filled bench tasting. The formalities now out of the way – it’s time for a refreshing G&T, or my partiality, a lovingly constructed Negroni.

Ah Negroni…..

Well that was fun! Now it’s time for lunch – back over the road to No.7. The staff is welcoming and professional.

Chef Joel Bowers provides a concise menu of tasty morsels, including duck neck sausage at the moment. Tapas are / is also a feature of the casual dining style here. Importantly, the coffee is excellent, which is almost always the case when I visit Meletos (St Huberts Road Colstream), or No.7.Healsville.

You will find featured at No.7, a growing selection of wines produced by young Yarra Valley of talented budding winemakers, sponsored by Meletos for the inaugural 2019 Young Winemakers Program.

Tilly J (the person), spent some time at the wonderful Giant Steps winery – under the tutelage of the hugely talented and equally self effacing chief winemaker Steve Flamsteed. Steve has mentored Tilly through her first vintage of ‘Tilly J” Pinot Noir. 2 tonnes of fruit was sourced from Helen’s Hill Winery, Coldstream, Yarra Valley.

As a generous kick start to sales, No.7 buys half of the wine produced by those in the Young Winemakers Program – and features the wine at their venue.

 Tasting Note.

Tilly J Pinot Noir – Yarra Valley – 2019.

Vibrant and youthful mid purple colour. Raspberry and assorted red fruits waft up the nostrils. The taste is most evidently fruit driven, with red fruits to the fore – lovely fresh acidity and mild tannins. Medium bodied with a medium finish.

This is a modern style of fun Yarra Valley Pinot Noir. Not made to be overly complex, it is all about juicy generosity and instant gratification.

Drinking well now – I enjoyed my glass of Tilly J at No 7. Healsville very much. I believe this wine will be even better in 2-3 months when it has settled in the bottle, and will drink well over the next 3-4 years.

Recommended Retail Price is $36 per bottle.

No. 7 Healsville is selling this lovely wine for $30 per bottle while it is still featured.

I am delighted that we will be able to offer a visit to No 7. Healsville as another option for our Perfect Day Tours customers. It is also gratifying to support the new wave of Yarra Valley winemakers by visiting No.7, and furthermore having an opportunity to taste and buy the wines.

Posted in News and Updates

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.

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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!



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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.






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