Last Wine Before Febfast – Better Make it a Good One!

This year, I have decided to take the plunge, and sign up to Febfast. This means that for the month of February 2021, I am abstaining from alcohol.

Febfast raises funds to help and support young people who are experiencing drug and alcohol problems. This is a great incentive to stick to my plan for the entire month.

If you are interested in making a small donation to the cause, here is the link

Anyway, as a fitting farewell to my wine drinking for the month, I decided to dig deep, and pull out a bottle of Birks Wendouree Shiraz – 1990.

This classic wine from the Clare Valley is now 31 years old. It was a delight to enjoy such an iconic wine, that I have been lovingly cellaring for all of those years.

Being such an old wine, the cork had become quite soft. This made it difficult to extract from the bottle, and broke down whilst I was trying to remove it. With remnants of cork now in the bottle, I therefore needed to strain the wine  through a tea strainer and paper towel filter. Not ideal for keeping oxygen away from the delicate and aged shiraz.


Birks Wendouree Shiraz 1990 – Clare Valley

Mid – deep red with an autumnal hue. No loss of colour or browning on the edge.

Complex aromas of violet, earth, cooked and cured meats and red baking spices. No signs of oxidation, cork taint or brett!

Seamless medium bodied palate. A subtle “hello” from ripe red to dark fruits. Softness and glycerol texture coats the mouth. Beautiful silky texture.

The aromatics continue to lift from the glass, giving much pleasure to the drinking experience.

Delicious with simple roast lamb, pesto gravy and home grown veggies.

As older wines are somewhat fragile, they often fade within a few hours of being opened. Because of the difficulty in extracting the cork, this wine was exposed to more air than I would have liked. Therefore, this lovely old wine started to oxidize after about 1 1/2 hours of being open.

Posted in News and Updates

Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2021 – Looking Good!

I noticed a few photos on social media a fortnight ago of ripening Pinot Noir grapes in the Yarra Valley. I was delighted and surprised to take a few shots of beautifully ripening grapes at Greenstone Vineyards in Yarra Glen.

Pinot Noir – Greenstone Vineyards  Yarra Valley – 8th of January 2021

The above photo is from a Perfect Day Tour on the 8th of January. The Pinot Noir bunches were far more advanced than I had expected. They look healthy and delicious – with that classical ‘pine cone’ shape that gives the grape variety it’s name.

Greenstone Vineyards are located in Yarra Glen, which is often referred to as the valley floor. The low lying area of the valley floor region can be slightly warmer during the growing season than the Upper Yarra Valley.

I was fortunate to host another tour to Greenstone on 22nd of January. I was keen to find out how the ripening, also known as veraison, was progressing.

As you can see, this bunch has developed a uniform dark blue/ purple colour.

Most importantly, after a very cool ripening period, the grapes look happy and healthy. Yea! After the year that was 2020 – I think we all deserve some lovely Pinot Noir from the 2021 vintage!

Pinot Noir – Greenstone Vineyards Yarra Valley – 22nd of January 2021
Posted in News and Updates

WINE GIVE AWAY! – 15/16/17th of January!

Amazingly – we still have some availability this weekend for Perfect Day Tours.

Relaxing after a delicious Gourmet BBQ and salads lunch. Mont Rouge – Red Hill – Mornington Peninsula.

All bookings for the weekend of 15/16/17 of January will receive a FREE bottle of Red Hill Estate wine. Your choice – Pinot Grigio or Pinot Noir. No strings attached.

Lunch includes a cellar door wine tasting, delicious lunch, and a glass of your preferred wine with lunch. What’s not to like!

Available for groups up to 10 – Yarra Valley & Mornington Peninsula.

Shared Grazing Platters at picturesque Yarrawood Estate – Yarra Valley.

Don’t miss out!

Call Steve on – 0422 401 051

Posted in News and Updates

Yarra Valley – It’s all Happening!

During the past week, I was delighted to see a single ripening Pinot Noir  grape. The photo of the pinkish grape was proudly posted on Instagram. The region was the Yarra Valley.

Just 2 days later – I was very happy to capture this photo at Greenstone Vineyards – Yarra Glen -Yarra Valley.  The bunches are healthy, tight, and ripening consistently.

If the mild conditions continue, it looks like we will have a very good Pinot Noir vintage in 2021. Fingers crossed.


Grazing Platters @ Yarrawood Estate – Yarra Valley.

Yarrawood Estate  has proven to be a picturesque and great value destination for our happy PDT customers on a Yarra Valley Tour.

Lunch includes a cellar door wine tasting – shared Grazing Platters – and a glass of wine of your choice. What’s not to like?





Posted in News and Updates

Yarra Valley Tour Report – Tours Back On!

What a pleasure it was to host our first PDT tour since March 2020!

Thankfully I had a wonderful group of 11 happy people – celebrating 2 birthdays. The Yarra Valley tour was well managed at every destination, with QR code scanning required at the venues.

Boat O’Craigo – Healsville Yarra Valley

Due to social distancing and hand sanitizer being used  – we still have no new corona virus outbreaks in Victoria.  Mask wearing is still encouraged indoors.

The custom tour featured an outdoor tasting at Helen’s Hill – a great start to the day. We then traveled on to the outstanding surrounds of Helen & Joey Winery – Gruyere – Yarra Valley.

Lunch was at Boat O’Craigo  – Healsville Yarra Valley. Lunch featured a fabulous wine tasting, shared plates and gourmet pizza. You will also be offered a glass of your preferred wine with you meal. How about that?

After a delicious and plentiful lunch – we had 1 more cellar door/winery to visit. Greenstone Vineyards in Yarra Glen was a cruisy and relaxed way to finish off the day.

Thank you to Emily and friends – I think I enjoyed the day just as much as you.

Even without the wine!


Posted in News and Updates

Four Pillars Distillery- Awarded Best in the World – 2 Years Running!

Congratulations to our dear friends at Four Pillars Gin Distillery – Healsville –  Yarra Yalley!

For the second year running, Four Pillars Distillery have been awarded International Gin Producer of the Year. 

The prestigious honour was awarded at the 51st International Wine and Spirits Competition, 2020.

A wonderful tasting at Four Pillars Distillery on my day off. Thanks Brett!

“We were in the laboratory at 5am, at 5.08 we were told we had won,” says co-founder Stuart Gregor. “I had my first glass of champagne at 5.11”

Four Pillars was awarded gold medals for their two most popular gins, Rare Dry Gin and Bloody Shiraz Gin. Further to this amazing feat, another five Four Pillars gins took home high silvers.This includes the unique Spiced Negroni and Navy Strength gins. Add to this the soon to be released olive-fueled gin, delicious Sherry Cask Gin and a single cask barrel aged gin that is yet to be launched.

We love taking our happy customers to Four Pillars. So much fun and education in smelling the botanicals, and tasting the gin.


The Gins on tasting – with botanicals to sniff during a tutored tasting.The now world famous – Four Pillars Gin Distillery – Yarra Valley.
Steve with a group of friends @ Four Pillars – Yarra Valley.
Posted in News and Updates


#cellardoorchallenge // This Week it’s all about…
Giant Steps Syrah – 2017.
Yarra Valley.
Supporting Victorian wineries during Covid – 19 restrictions, we are pleased to be involved with the #cellardoorchallenge.
I loved this lovely Yarra Valley wine when I first tasted it a few years ago. Such a classic vintage for Syrah and Pinot Noir in the Yarra Valley.

It went down a treat with Filet Mignon, parsnip mash and local asparagus. Red wine reduction and horseradish cream to accompany. Mmm – that’s nice.

Giant Steps Syrah 2017.
Being a cooler vintage – this lovely regional Syrah is elegant and medium bodied. There is ample natural acidity to support the vibrant raspberry / red fruit palate. There is even a whiff of white pepper – reflective of the mild and extended ripening.  Silky tannins too.
What a pity I don’t have any more of this wonderful wine. Sad face.
Giant Steps Cellar Door Tasting. Two wine lovers from Sydney on a Perfect Day Tour.
Posted in News and Updates


#cellardoorchallenge // This Week it’s all about…
Quealy Winemakers  ’17 Rows’ Pinot Noir – 2014.
Mornington Peninsula.

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 social media friendly, we endeavor to get a decent photo of the food & wine to post.

One of our favorite cellar doors to take small groups on the Mornington Peninsula is Quealy Winemakers at Balnarring. This is because the intimate cellar door adjoins the boutique winery, and is both welcoming and intriguing.

Kathleen Quealy conducting a wonderful tasting in the winery. Note the large format glasses.

Beautiful, large  glasses allow the lucky taster to smell and taste the wines in the best style.

 Quealy Winemakers ’17 Rows’ Pinot Noir  2014. Balnarring – Mornington Peninsula. The vines were planted in 1982 – making them some of the oldest on the Peninsula. Due to this, it is the Quealy flagship – with only 17 precious rows across 3 acres on the Quealy Estate being sourced for this wine.



Deep red in colour.

Attrctive musk stick aromas, with violets and raspberry. Elegant and poised –  with medium bodied ‘confidence’.

The French oak is like a great bass player – weaving everything together – but never dominating. Medium bodied yet full of flavour and character.

As with all very good Pinot’s from mature vines – the wine slowly opens up on the back palate. Subsequently the wine is satisfying, balanced and moreish. Delightful length.

I am pleased to say the wine was very complimentary with the Chinese style duck, mushroom, and asparagus dish I prepared to match.


Wine – Quealy 17 Rows Pinot Noir 2014.  Food – Seared duck breast with Chinese master stock reduction. Accompanied by mushroom, asparagus, red cabbage and rice noodles.



Posted in News and Updates


#cellardoorchallenge // This Week it’s all about…
Knight’s Granite Hills Shiraz – 2014.
Macedon Ranges.

In support of Victorian wineries and cellar doors during Covid – 19 restrictions, we are pleased to be involved with the wonderful  #cellardoorchallenge initiative.

Granite Hills Shiraz –  2014

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.

Cool Climate

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 and tannins helps to dissolve fattiness or oiliness from the food.


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 year – 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. This is 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. Subsequently there is a 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.





Posted in News and Updates

Back Vintage Review – Madden’s Rise Nebbiolo 2013 – Yarra Valley

Happy Father’s Day to me!

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 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.

Madden’s Rise Nebbiolo 2013. Coldstream – Yarra Valley.

‘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.






Posted in News and Updates