Australia’s Pinot Country ~ Day 2 (on the road)

Note:  You have to get to the end of the day (after Plunkett Fowles) to hear the quote of the day…

On day two in the Yarra Valley we visited the De Bortoli Winery which is located in the picturesque northern part of the valley. Steve Webber, co-owner & chief winemaker & Sarah Fagen, assistant winemaker, gave us a beautiful tour through the estate & led us through a stunning tasting.

De Bortoli’ s first vineyards were planted in 1971 on mainly eastern & southern facing slopes. Steve Webber, former chief winemaker of Lindemans, likes wines with more soil character.

Steve was a passionate winemaker & fun to talk to.

LA crew at that tasting table with Sarah Fagan, asst winemaker (in red)

Here are some of the highlights:
De Bortoli 2010 Edelzwicker ~ A blend of Gewuerztraminer, Riesling & Pinot Gris. Slightly honeyed nose with beautiful flavors of peach, apricot & citrus. Fantastic balance, texture & structure. Great acidity & a fresh, long finish.

De Bortoli 2008 Reserve Chardonnay ~ Inviting pear & honeyed nose. Fantastic mouthfeel. Smooth, soft, elegant. Delicious pear, apple fruit with some citrus. Great, long finish. Wine is made from the oldest estate wines.

De Bortoli 2008 Yarra Valley Pinot Noir ~ Elegant aromas of red fruit. Complex, elegant, lovely fruit of raspberries & cherries. Good acidity & texture. Long finish.

De Bortoli 2008 Reserve Syrah ~ Spicy, plenty of substance, big, but smooth texture. Ripe fruit. Wonderful tannins on the big finish.

Orchards on the Yering Station grounds

After a wonderful visit at De Bortoli’s we took off to Yering Station, one of the biggest wineries in the Yarra Valley, to meet Willy Lunn (pictured below),  the chief winemaker.

Dawn tasting as Yering Station

Willy Lunn, a well-travelled man, who has lots of cool climate winemaker experience, & worked in Champagne, Burgundy & Oregon (Argyle). He has been the chief winemaker since 2008 & believes that great wines comes from doing what you need to do to suit the grapes & using the terroir to its fullest.

Yering Station was founded in 1988 & owns 112 hectares of vineyards in the Upper, Middle & Lower Valley.

Barrels (above) & bottling (below) at Yering Station.

Here is what we tasted:
Yering Station 2009 Chardonnay ~ Fragrant, pure nose, with white peach fruit, pear, melon & citrus, with hints of minerals. Nice oak. Elegant, with good length.

Yering Station 2002 Pinot Noir Reserve ~ Fine aromas of red cherries & raspberries. Lots of herbal & spicy character on the mid-palate. Good acidity, elegant & complex.

Yering Station 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon ~ Beautiful perfumed, dark fruit. Slightly sweet. Good acidity & concentration. Fine tannins on the finish.

Taking off from Yering Station we were heading north for 2 and 1/2 hours in 104 degrees to Plunkett-Fowles at Strathbogie Ranges. Yes, we hit the heat wave for three days. On the way, Billy Joel tunes from the lap-top from my LA fellows & the hunt for kangaroos made for an entertaining drive. The highlight:  30 minutes on a dirt road to the Plunkett-Fowles Winery on top of Strathbogie Ranges.

Our terrific driver, Brian, & Sam Plunkett, owner/winemaker

The Strathbogie Ranges is located about 100km North of Melbourne. The region is at latitude 36-37 & is typically elevated with the majority of vineyards planted 400-500 meters above sea level, grown on granite soils of sandy loam over a clay base.

View from the winery; vineyards are mid-photo to the left.

The Strathbogie Ranges were officially recognized as a region in 2001. The first vineyards were planted in 1960 by Alan Plunkett. The Plunkett-Fowles vineyards were planted as part of an emerging understanding of the importance of cool climate fruit in making fine table wine.

If you think it looks hot, you’re right!

Main varietals are Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay & Riesling. The main tasting highlights were:

Plunkett-Fowles 2010 Stone Dweller Riesling ~ Floral, spicy, fresh, crisp. Apricot, peach & persistent lime aromas & flavors. Very minerally, with good acidity & complexity. Long, fresh finish.

Punkett-Fowles 2006 The Rule Shiraz ~ Found a treasure right here! Rich, dense, with complex aromas of licorice, ripe black fruit, dark chocolate & spicy pepper notes, integrating into the flavors. Long, beautiful finish, with fine grained tannins.

We included some pictures of our accommodations, an old converted butter factory. A very interesting, picturesque spot owned by a beautiful host (pictures left), who earned the quote of the day with:  Please make sure you close the door so that the snakes are not able to enter the establishment(?!)

Stay tuned…


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