Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Melbourne & Mornington

Our interest was tweaked a few weeks ago by an ad we saw in the newspaper for the King Tutankhamun exhibition at the Melbourne Museum. A quick phone call to travel agent Tim and before we knew it we were on a plane to the land of Oz for a long weekend. And the fact there are a couple of fantastic wine regions within an hour or so of Melbourne had absolutely nothing to do with deciding to go! We stayed in the centre of the city so we would be close to many of those delightful restaurants we hear so much about and of course they also have shops there that needed visiting.
We only had a few days so we dedicated one day to wine, we rented a car for the day and headed to the Mornington Peninsula where there are about 200 wineries and 50 cellar door outlets you can visit. Because we had a day that meant we also had a problem – so many wines to taste and so little time! The delightful people at the Mornington township I-Site visitor centre helped us plan a day that took in some great wines and ensured we were well fed.
By the time we travelled from Melbourne (about 75 minutes) we had time for lunch and to visit three or four wineries. We decided to have lunch at Port Phillip Estate where they not only have a fantastic restaurant but some excellent wines too.
With a climate not dissimilar to Nelson the wines produced in the region include chardonnay, pinot gris, sauvignon blanc, arneis and pinot noir so it was an interesting exercise to compare their wines with ours.
At Port Phillip Estate we really enjoyed their Chardonnays, in particular the Kooyong Estate 2008 (A$38) and the single vineyard 2008 Faultline Chardonnay (A$60). From the selection of pinot noirs available my favourite and the most expensive (of course) at A$65 was their Single Vineyard Haven 2008 Pinot Noir. While this is still a young wine it is packed with rich, meaty, savoury berry fruit flavours with a hit of liquorice in the finish. The restaurant at Port Phillip Estate is a fine dining experience with food that would not be out of place in a top restaurant in any city and service that was faultless.
Stunning food in a stunning environment at Port Phillip Estate Restaurant

A grey winter's day at Port Phillip Estate

Stunning architectural design at Port Phillip Estate tasting room and restuarant
On a much smaller scale Main Ridge Estate was established in 1975 by Rosalie and Nat White and every drop of juice that finds its way into a bottle there comes from their own small vineyard. Producing predominantly chardonnay and pinot noir with some pinot meunier and merlot completing the range and a dedication to quality the wines are very good. When we were there the merlot had sold out and other wines were available in limited quantities (on bottle per person) such is the popularity of these wines. Top of my list was the 2009 Half Acre Pinot Noir (A$65), a wine packed with flavour concentration and character. This is boutique wine making of a very high standard.
A long weekend break in Melbourne can be quite cheap if you keep your eyes open for good deals on flights. We will be back and we will be spending more than a day in the Mornington Peninsula wine region next time.
Check out www.visitmorningtonpeninsula.org

I have been drinking

Kina Beach 2010 Sauvignon Blanc (about $16)
With vibrant tropical fruit aromas and a smooth textured mouthfeel this is a luscious and spicy wine packed with passionfruit and stonefruit flavours and juicy fresh acidity in the finish this is almost too easy to drink.

Blackenbrook Vineyard Reserve Pinot Noir 2009 ($39)
Another five star wine from a five star producer. This is still a very young wine with appealing concentrated spiced red/black cherry flavours, a touch of gaminess and silky tannins this is another beauty from the talented Daniel Schwarzenbach.

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