If you are a regular blog reader, then you’ll already know about my undying love for Chardonnay. If I had to pick one grape variety to consume the rest of my life, it would be Chardonnay. It’s also the reason I wrote this 2,000-word ultimate guide to Chardonnay.
So on that note, let us cheers to the wonderful world of Chardonnay!
Lightfoot & Sons 2016 Home Block Chardonnay
Region: Gippsland, Victoria
I cooked up a beautiful fish curry with the delicious Vinofood Indian Tomato & White Wine Sauce and crackled into this spectacular bottle of Lightfoot & Sons Wines Home Block 2016 Chardonnay. Both elements were heavenly and when put together – WOW!
The Chardy has a pretty golden yellow glow to it. The nose is full of vanillin oak, freshly cut mango and stonefruits. It smells of pure delicious elegance! In the mouth wonderful notes of juicy pears and apricots stand out for me with perfectly integrated oak. It’s so creamy, silky and downright yummy. More, please!
The owner, Joanne Bradbury, of 3 Drops Wine & Olive Oil from WA’s Great Southern Wine Region completed a half marathon in Beirut, Lebanon on the weekend – so I thought it would be a great time to crack into this sample of their 2016 Chardonnay with Mr Spittoon.
As most of you probably know, I’m a big fan of Chardonnay and I strongly believe you need to give every Chardy a chance as they come in all styles and tastes.
This golden-hued wine from 3 Drops is made of grapes from vines planted in 1982. It spends some time in French oak to give it enough time to develop a silky texture yet it’s not overpowering. It has lovely intricate layers of acidity and fresh fruit (think peach, nectarine and spiced pears). I also got a hint of butterscotch on the nose which really buttered me up for what was to come
Regions: Tumbarumba, Yarra Valley, Margaret River, Adelaide Hills and Pemberton
Yumo, Chardonnay and spiced banana chips! The HRB ‘Heritage Reserve Bin’ range from Hardys Wines is all about blending grapes from different regions – a unique and interesting concept. This 2016 Chardy is a blend of grapes from the regions of Tumbarumba, Yarra Valley, Margaret River, Adelaide Hills and Pemberton I believe. Please note this was a media sample.
It’s a banana yellow colour on the eye (I compared it with the banana chips we were eating, so pretty sure of it!). Smooth oak, spiced pears and peach slices stand out on the nose. While there a nice oomph of flavour and complexity on the palate. Think elegant citrus and stone fruit flavours. I’d buy this again!
I was over at a friends house recently and they pulled out this Swan Valley beauty! This Upper Reach Winery 2014 Reserve Chardonnay is a pretty great way to spend a Saturday afternoon!
It’s a lemon colour on the eye with a hint of lime. The nose is full of vanilla oak, stone fruits and a hint of florals. In the mouth, it has that wonderful balance of fresh fruit flavours and creamy, elegant oak. I was particularly picking up spiced pear and toasted sesame seeds. More, please!
Introducing the new 2017 ‘Backyard Stories’ Chardonnay from Swings & Roundabouts in Margaret River, retailing for approx $45 a bottle. I know a lot of you will be familiar with Swings, but do you know why they chose their name?
“Our name celebrates the creative and skilled balancing act performed by nature and our winemaking team, to deliver well-structured wines that are fresh and flavoursome with style and finesse. To achieve this, there is a clear understanding that… what is lost on the roundabouts, we pick up on the swings!”
This Chardy is a limey lemon yellow colour on the eye. The nose is creamy with a touch of floral perfume, nuts and refreshing just cut grapefruit. In the mouth juicy pears and citrus come through for me. It has a nearly honey oil like texture which is just so darn mouthwatering. And it finishes off with a bang – nice, long, tasty finish. Please note this was a media sample.
Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a bottle of champagne – trust me, guys! I spotted this bottle of very lonely looking champas recently on the Dan Murphy’s shelves for about $50 and thought I better give it some company.
Champagne Charles Orban Blanc de Blancs is made from 100% Chardonnay and is a ‘non-vintage’. This means it’s a blend of grapes from different years, aka their house style which they try to keep the same every year. Orban is a grower/producer – I’d highly recommend reading ‘Bursting Bubbles’ for more info on how the vineyards in the Champagne region work.
It’s a lemon juice colour on the eye. Creamy notes of vanilla oak, nutty brioche and spiced citrus jump out of the glass at me. While in the mouth it’s smooth and citrusy with flavours of juicy apples weaved through the freshly baked pastry. Highly enjoyable!
When I spotted this bottle of Narkoojee Lily Grace Chardonnay from over here in Gippsland, I just had to grab a bottle to try based on Marieke’s recommendation. $28 a bottle approx.
It’s a sunny yellow in the glass with creamy honeydew melon and buttery fruit danish on the nose. In the mouth, it has a great balance of freshness and creaminess with flavours of vanilla infused fruits (think peach and melon) and a lovely lingering finish. I’ll be seeing you again Lily Grace!
‘Like sands through the hourglass, these are the wines of our lives’ said Mr. Spittoon as he sipped on this cheap & cheerful Chardonnay we picked up from Aldi for about $12.
It’s a yellow shade on the eye. The nose is rather tropical with hints of citrus and a touch of fresh herbs. It’s very easy drinking and fruit forward on the palate with a rather creamy texture. Not bad for the $$.
Yes, I know.. a lot of tasting notes have been going up lately (which must mean one thing) but between building a new website and remembering to breathe – believe me, I need wine by 8pm!
This Mornington Peninsula Chardonnay from Stonier Wines was $22 from memory.
Stonier started up in 1978, so 40 years ago now and is one of the founding wineries on the Peninsula. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the core focus of the winery. I knew I’d picked well.
It’s a mesmerising yellow shade on the eye with butterscotch and lychee coming through on the nose and a whiff of cooling mint. In the mouth, it’s creamy, juicy and plush with delectable tastes of lemon acidity and crunchy apple refreshing my very spoilt taste buds.
Cave de Lugny Cremant de Bourgogne Blanc de Blancs
Region: Burgundy, France
We recently felt like the ultimate comfort food – sausage swirls. So managing with our 1 pot, 1 knife and spatula, they actually turned out alright considering! I love to match this pastry, meat, cheese and potato swirls with bubbles as it refreshes the palate. This wee bubbles from the Burgundy Region in France is around the $15 mark and is made from 100% Chardonnay.
On the eye, it’s a creamy pastel yellow colour. Notes of apples and lemon come through on the nose with a slight hint of nuts. In the mouth, it’s juicy, fruity and easy drinking with a lovely soft effervescence. This is my kind of night in on a budget!
Buy online or from Liquorland, Vintage Cellars or First Choice liquor stores.
Naturally, as soon as we got to Sale, Victoria, I had to Google what was the closest winery. The first result to pop up was Avon Ridge Vineyard which is about a 20-minute drive from Sale and about 50 minutes from Traralgon.
As we drove into the driveway at Avon Ridge we saw a for sale sign up. So it looks like it’ll be under new management sometime in the near future. I do have to admit that Mr Spittoon and I bought a lotto ticket later that day, just in case it was our destiny to be the new owners ;)
It’s very clear from when you first walk onto the property from the car park that it’s set up for weddings and events. It’s gorgeous! Every now and then when I visit a vineyard like this, I do wish Mr Spittoon and I could have another wedding. While our Vanuatu wedding was absolutely wonderful, I’d also love to have a winery one!
What I wasn’t prepared for, however, was the quality of wine on offer. I’d had a handful of Gippsland wines prior to moving to the region, but I really wasn’t expecting this.
The cellar door
Avon Ridge is named after the Avon River which runs through the region.
One thing I would love to see at Avon Ridge is a bit more of a cellar door experience. The property is very much set up for events and for dining, however, they really should have a dedicated tasting area. The wines are worth it, trust me.
Currently, you can taste at the bar, which is also where the till is and is quite a busy area. Don’t get me wrong though, we had a brilliant tasting and experience, I am probably just a little bit greedy :)
The lovely lady who took us through our tasting was very informative and warm. As she took us from the top to the bottom of the list, I am pretty sure I said that I loved each and every wine. I was truly wowed by the quality of these Gippsland wines.
Avon Ridge has over 30-year-old vines on the property and specialises in cool-climate Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. I would happily enjoy a glass of any of their wines. However, this is the one we simply ‘had’ to take home with us:
I recently discovered this 2015 Sparkling Red at a vineyard just up the road from us here in Gippsland – @avonridge446 . It’s made from Pinot Noir and goes down like an absolute treat! $30 a bottle. In the glass, it’s a ruby red colour with a slight purple tinge to it. The nose is full of smoky berries, forestry and fresh plums. While in the mouth it has wonderful juicy red fruit, it’s fresh and easy drinking with a lovely smooth texture and made me think of strawberries with a sprinkle of black pepper on. Yum! All opinions are based on my own taste buds. Wine is subjective & always evolving, so make sure you drink what you enjoy!
Of course, it would be rude of us if we didn’t stay for lunch.
What really stood out to me about the menu was the Wine Guide. This is an absolutely brilliant idea! At the start of the menu, there is a legend, where every wine has a unique symbol associated with it. Throughout the menu, each dish is then carefully matched with one of the wines. I love this! it makes wine and food matching so easy, more restaurants definitely need to do this!
I also love how the food is very much about supporting local produce. Avon Ridge source their eggs from Maroubra grass-fed free range eggs, the bread is made in-house daily, all the cheese is from Gippsland and herbs and garnishes are grown in their own garden. I have to admit, I really love how Gippsland is very good at supporting local!
We ordered a range of small share plates:
Hand cut Forsyth farm potatoes, fried and seasoned with rosemary salt, served with sour cream and sweet chilli – $12
Crumbed red leister Maffra cheddar and sundried tomato arancini, purple potato aioli and capsicum coulie – $10
Southern ridge sliders with crispy fried chicken pieces, sriracha, kewpie mayo and pickles served with farmers best chips – $18
Spicy Thai fish cakes served with a chilli glaze and apple remoulade – $14
The dessert menu looked awesome, but unfortunately, we were way too full after the above. My pick and Mr Spittoon’s too was the sliders – they were so good!
I have also heard they do a great breakfast buffet on the weekends!
I’ve now been living in the Gippsland wine region (Victoria, Australia) for a little over 2 months. It’s definitely is quite a different experience to our old home in Perth’s Swan Valley wine region. With the Gippsland wineries a lot further apart, it means we typically spend Sunday afternoon’s ticking a new one off the list. Last week we decided to check out Glenmaggie Wines, which was about a 30-minute drive from where we are living in the town of Sale.
I have to admit, ‘tiki-touring’ as my parents called it when I was growing up, is rather beautiful here in Gippsland. There is a lot of farmland and even though it’s been quite dry of late, it is still fairly green (especially compared to Western Australia).
Mr Spittoon is dead set on getting some sort of 4WD as there’s also a number of dirt roads which his low-ish car doesn’t do quite well. Not to mention making the car pretty filthy. So it’s probably a good idea.
I also love all the small country towns dotted around the countryside. They usually have quaint little cafes and shops to explore. After our visit to Glenmaggie on Sunday afternoon, we stopped at a town called Briagolong for a roast pork and gravy roll and I managed to find a gorgeous wee necklace at the local ‘Rust Emporium’ from a local designer, Jaxos.
All up, it was a perfect way to spend a Sunday!
To be honest, I didn’t know much about Glenmaggie wines before we went there. Mr Spittoon and I did have a bottle of their 2016 Chardonnay at the Star Hotel here in Sale a number of weeks ago, and that was our first taste of this local Gippsland wine.
Glenmaggie Wines is owned and operated by Fleur and Tony who started the vineyard in 1995. Their first vintage was released in 2001 I believe (I am not 100% sure on this, so don’t quote me on it!).
As we got chatting, we found out Fleur, like Mr Spittoon and myself is originally from New Zealand! It’s always great to meet fellow kiwis abroad.
Being in Gippsland, Glenmaggie produces cool climate wines and are known for being one of the few produces in the area to successfully produce Cabernet Sauvignon. It is quite hard to ripen around here, however, their north-facing property makes it doable. They’ve won awards for their Cab and also for numerous other wines they have produced.
The Cellar Door
It’s a nice drive up to the property as you pass the sweeping grape vines and once at the top you experience beautiful views that overlook the vineyard and surrounding area.
Before you even get out of the car you’ll be greeted by 2 wine dogs. I didn’t catch their names, but one is a little cream fluff ball and the other one some kind of border collie. They were both extremely friendly and well-behaved when we got out of the car.
Technically at the moment, there is not really a cellar door in place. Which is why we did our tasting in their kitchen! It had beautiful views over the vineyard and surrounding area.
A cellar door is in the works though, and I’m looking forward to re-visiting once they have this built and up and running.
Naturally, we tried through the range on offer which included the Chardonnay, a Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Shiraz and Pinot Noir. I have to admit, they all went down pretty easily and it was hard to decide which ones to buy and stay within my wine buying budget!
In the end, we bought three bottles – tasting notes to come!
Visiting Glenmaggie Wines
If you’re planning on visiting Glenmaggie wines, I would suggest calling beforehand to make sure they’ll be open. I believe they only open on Sunday afternoons, however, you may be able to make an appointment. You can find all their contact details below:
Address: 439 McLachlands Rd, Tinamba West VIC 3859
If you follow the Travelling Corkscrew on Facebook or Instagram, you may have seen I recently took over the Travelling Corkscrew’s Instagram Stories while I was in Pemberton, in Western Australia’s Southern Forest region, about 3 hours south of Perth.
I also want to highlight that there is still time to check out the last few events running as a part of the Unearthed Pemberton Festival. To see what wine events are running this weekend, check out my previous blog post.
Find out a little more about the Pemberton and Southern Forests Region
I hope you enjoy reading this post and it ultimately inspires you to pick a weekend, hop in your car and head down to Pemberton or, if you’re unable to physically be in Pemberton, use this as an opportunity to ask your local bottle shop if they stock wines from either Pemberton or Manjimup in the Southern Forest region.
Thursday – Depart Perth for Pemberton
After prepping the vehicle on Wednesday (ANZAC day) and Thursday, my partner Bryce and I didn’t end up leaving Perth until quite late. Around 4pm. This did mean that we left around the same time as peak hour traffic was starting to build, so we lost a little bit of travel time.
Leaving Perth and about to jump onto the Kwinana Freeway
We weren’t in too much of a hurry as we already knew we would be building our tent in the dark. And yes we were camping. Something we both enjoy and were doing together for the first time. It was a success, if you were wondering.
In addition to the late start, we also stopped off at one of the newer BP service stations along the freeway for a quick bite to eat for dinner as we were unsure what would be open in Pemberton.
We arrived at Warren Campgrounds which overlooks the Warren River around 8:30pm and managed to set-up our tent quite quickly to get an early first night.
The trip normally takes just over 3 hours if you’re travelling from Perth, about the same travel time if you were to drive to Margaret River or Augusta in the South or Dongra to the North.
Friday – Bike Riding, Eating Delicious Local Food and Wine Tasting
Bryce and I are fairly laid back people and this carried across into our morning routine. We were already in holiday mode!
Breakfast was followed by a coffee and a cup of tea before Bryce got started on prepping his bike and getting ready to ride the Pemberton MTB Park. By the time we got into town, found the bike park and sussed out what routes he would take (there are quite a few options when it comes to the bike trails), it was fairly close to midday.
I opted to drop Bryce at the park and go for a little drive, which led me to Rambouillet Winery. This is where I met owners Alan and Leanne.
Firstly, I was absolutely wowed by the entry into their driveway which consisted of Maple trees lining the full length of their driveway. I initially missed the driveway as the sign into the property was right on the turn off, however I did notice the trees from quite a distance away. They are very striking in Autumn!
The entry sign into Rambouillet Winery
The driveway leading up to the Rambouillet cellar door
I stayed at Rambouillet Winery for about 30 minutes tasting their Chardonnay, three Sauvignon Blancs and a Shiraz.
During my time at the cellar door, I learnt that they planted truffle trees late last year on the property and that the cellar door was designed in a simple French country style and built by the family.
The purpose built cellar door (and Alan on the park bench under the veranda)
We arrived just before the kitchen closed for a delicious lunch. I chose the Vegetarian pumpkin gnocchi (chickpeas, zucchini, baby kale, semi-dried tomatoes, olives, red onion, feta and za’atar) and Bryce opted for the Pulled Beef Cheeks (gnocchi, blueberries, parmesan and finger limes) which was a special for the day. You can also jump onto the Hidden River website to view the lunch time menu.
Vegetarian pumpkin gnocchi with a glass of Picardy Pinot Noir
Pulled Beef Cheeks which was partnered with a glass of Hidden River Merlot
I wish I could jump on a plane right now (even if it is raining when I get there!), but alas I’ll have to enjoy the fruits of South of France rose from here and soak up all these delicious words and pictures. Enjoy guys!
Provence wine facts
Provence (Provençal) wine comes from the French wine-producing region of Provence in southeast France. The Romans called the area provincia nostra (“our province”), giving the region its name. Just south of the Alps, it was the first Roman province outside Italy.
Wine has been made in Provence for at least 2,600 years ever since the Greeks founded the city of Marseille in 600 BC.
Many different cultures have influenced the viticulture and winemaking in Provence – these include the Ancient Greeks, Romans, Gauls, Cataland and Savoyards.
Today the region is most famous for its rosé wine which currently accounts for more than half the production of Provençal wine.
Out of the 140 million bottles produced annually in Provence, 75% of it is rosé. That’s 105 million bottles every year.
In 2008 Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt enjoyed a helicopter ride over Chateau Miraval in Provence and fell in love with the place so much they bought it. They hosted their wedding there six years later. Despite being divorced for more than a year, it is one asset they will not be dividing up! They purchased the 1,100-acre estate for $60 million and although there have been many rumours about selling it, the parents of six are going to use Miraval “as an investment for their children”.
Planning our trip
We eagerly planned our rosé wine tasting tour of Provence in the South of France on a sunny afternoon in the Lake District, UK. I say ‘sunny’ – and it was…for about half an hour…but for those 30 glorious minutes, sipping rosé I think I actually tasted sunshine!
The wine was a deliciously light and incredibly crisp rosé called Étoile from Mirabeau En Provence. It had elegant aromas of white peach and a hint of lychee. Its colour was sublimely pale – the palest of pinks and it was a perfect rosé to get us all into the mood for Provence.
Whilst excitedly swapping tasting notes, my husband and my mum, were incredibly keen to visit their cellar door, which is nestled in the picturesque village of Cotignac, in central Provence – well known for its quaint old town and imposing troglodyte cliff.
However…our dreams of rosé in the sunshine were not only short-lived in the Lake District but were shockingly destroyed in the South of France. Hence the name of this blog ‘Rosé and Rain’ or it could also be ‘Wine and Waterproofs’.
And then came the Provence rain…
It was not the exact dream of France we had and because of the extreme weather – rain, rain and more rain (with a bit of thunder and blustery wind thrown in as well). We, unfortunately, didn’t make it to Mirabeau En Provence. Its wonderful winding roads up to the mountains would have been disastrous – especially in a hire car! Cellar door staff at the winery did advise that travel was a risk – so we do plan to visit in the summer (keep that rosé on ice for my blog part 2).
“Apparently”, Provence has a classic Mediterranean climate with mild winters followed by very warm summers with little rainfall – but the rain certainly did fall this April!
But the rain didn’t stop us from sipping the rosé – and we had some truly wonderful rosés.
Visiting Domaine de La Croix
Our first stop, Domaine de La Croix, was a mere 10-minute walk down the road from my mum’s apartment in La Croix Valmer. It’s a stunning vineyard which spreads over 100 ha, from Tabarin, close to Gigaro beaches, to the hills of Saunier Neuf and Saunier Vieux, from which you can see the beautiful Islands of Hyères, Le Levant and Porquerolles.
Its inviting driveway had such elegance and style with beautiful tall trees, rolling hills covered with vines (which had little bud-bursts when we visited) and a stylish cellar door, which certainly lures visitors in.
I think my biggest concern wine tasting in a European country was the language barrier. I was afraid to practice my basic conversational French (much has been lost since my school days, many years ago!) but I managed a “Parlez-vous Anglais” (Do you speak English?) and thankfully our cellar door salesperson did. In fact, she was superb at explaining the wines and grape varieties. Phew!
La Croix Cru Classé Cuvée “Eloge” Blanc 2016
Our first taste was La Croix Cru Classé Cuvée “Eloge” Blanc 2016 – a gorgeous pale yellow-gold Rolle or probably better known as Vermentino – a popular grape in Provence.
It had a delicate nose with an abundance of tropical fruit and a wonderfully silky mouthfeel. It was an incredibly light and very elegant rosé.
Bastide Blanche Cuvée “TwoB” White 2016 AOP Côtes de Provence (Provence), White 2016
Next up was the Bastide Blanche Cuvée “TwoB” White 2016 AOP Côtes de Provence (Provence), White 2016. This was an incredibly interesting white – 90% Rolle and 10% Semillon. The grapes are from one of the other vineyards, The Domain of la Bastide Blanche, surrounded by slaty cliffs and the sea.
The description on their website just sounds so perfectly dreamy:
Leave behind the luxury and the glitter of the famous beaches of Saint-Tropez and discover the bend of Cape Taillat, the Domain of la Bastide Blanche. A virgin beach, nested between two capes in turquoise blue waters, surrounded with slaty cliffs. This green setting shelters a 15 ha vineyard, where a friendly-environment vine is growing. The light soils of the back beach encircled with pines carry the vines which make rosé and white wines.’
Just prior to tasting the wine, the cellar door salesperson said the wine will actually make you salivate as you almost taste the salty sea. Incredibly, the wine does have a salty taste – and you can taste the sea. On the nose, there are hints of citrus fruits, which follows through on the palate – with a salty taste. Hard to explain in writing but it really is quite something else – and delicious. I imagine it goes amazingly well with seafood, especially fresh oysters – it would enhance the salty sea like flavours.
Croix Cru Classé Cuvée “Irrésistible” Rosé 2016
First up on the rosés was La Croix Cru Classé Cuvée “Irrésistible” Rosé 2016–described as an aperitif-style wine, and very easy drinking.
It was incredibly pale yet had an intense nose of raspberries – it really was aromatic. It was beautifully silky and fresh on the palate with a persistent finish.
With a blend of a number of grape varieties it’s easy to understand it’s complexity with Cabernet-Sauvignon : 10% Cinsault : 25% Grenache : 30% Mourvèdre : 15% Syrah : 5% Tibouren : 15%.
Cuvée ‘Organdi’ Rosé AOC Côtes de Provence
Next was the Cuvée ‘Organdi’ Rosé AOC Côtes de Provence. It’s a newly born cuvée from the Domaine de la Croix, Organdi is an anthem to elegance and refinement.
This rosé is certainly a food wine with almost a buttery mouthfeel – which is not that different to lightly oaked chardonnay. On the nose, there is more of an exotic, rich fruit, hints of floral and a hint of spice. This is also a blend of 25 % Cinsault, 60% Grenache and 15% Tibouren.
La Croix Cru Classé Cuvée “Eloge” Rosé 2016
Next up was the La Croix Cru Classé Cuvée “Eloge” Rosé. 2016 – And wow, on the nose it was like an explosion of fruit cocktail, so fresh and zippy – and that alone lured me in, it screamed ’drink me’. The mouthfeel was long and with a dominant taste of exotic mandarin and strawberries. Incredible to think that this wine packed so much intensity on the nose and taste when the colour of it is so beautifully pale. With a fine blend of 20% Cinsault 65% Grenache noir: 5% Mourvèdre 10%Tibouren it’s easy to understand why it packs a punch in the taste stakes.
Bastide Blanche Cuvée “TwoB” Rosé 2016
The rosé wine kept on coming, our next taste was the Bastide Blanche Cuvée “TwoB” Rosé 2016 – again from the vineyard near the dreamy turquoise ocean and slaty cliffs – and again it had a fine, delicate and salty finish, just like the white we tried. Incredible really. Once again, strikingly pale pink with almost salmon highlights. With a rich nose of rose petals and a buttery lingering finish, this wine is perfectly rich and ideal with food, such as a luxurious fish pie or even fish stew – bouillabaisse. It is a wonderful blend of 70% Grenache 5% Tibouren 5% Rolle: 20% Cinsault.
Magnum La Croix Cru Classé cuvée “Eloge” Rouge 2013
Although Provence is well-known for its rosés, we couldn’t resist a taste of a red! It would be rude not to! The Magnum La Croix Cru Classé cuvée “Eloge” Rouge 2013 shrieked of blackcurrant and dark luscious fruits. It certainly was of a more complex aroma compared to the delicate yet fragrant rosés. The colour had a real purple vibrancy, the taste was full, rich and silky with a wonderful lengthy finish with hints of vanilla and wood.
It is a delicious blend of 30% Mourvèdre and 70% Syrah.
Domaine de La Croix Address:
816, Boulevard de Tabarin
83420 – La Croix Valmer Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday from 9am until 1pm, then 2pm until 7pm Email: email@example.com
The winery hosts some wonderful events throughout the summer months, such as Jazz festivals and music events – which has always been on top of my mum’s social calendar when in the South of France! These ticketed events are often BYO picnic and the wines are usually at a very good price on the day.
If you’re a regular TC reader, you’ll be aware that Mr Spittoon and I left Perth nearly 2 months ago to start a new adventure in Victoria. It wasn’t an easy decision to leave my beloved Western Australian wine scene behind. But when I heard VIC has the most winery cellar doors out of all the Australian states – I started to consider it.
So we packed up our belongings (yet again – see my about me page for more info) to follow new career opportunities. As a result, we are now based in Gippsland, Victoria in a town of about 15,000 people, 3 hours east of Melbourne.
As we have family friends who live in Melbourne, we have been lucky enough to visit a few of the different wine regions and wineries in VIC already. Including the Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula, Bellarine (Geelong) and Gippsland. However, it’s safe to say we are going to visit a helluva lot more over the next few years.
Which is why I wanted to put this post together, partly research for me, but also an introduction on the blog to the wineries of Victoria.
Victoria Wine Regions
So firstly, let’s take a look at the wine regions of Victoria.
Basically, the state can be divided up into 6 sections and there looks to be a total of 21 different wine regions:
Geelong / Bellarine Peninsula
According to the Visit Victoria website, there are more than 800 wineries in Victoria and 600 cellar doors. That’s a lot of wine tasting to be had! And it’s pretty impressive considering VIC is the second smallest state in Australia.
View from Jack Rabbit Vineyard – Bellarine Wineries
Fun Victoria Wine Facts
I love to research, so since moving to Victoria, I have been doing a ton of reading on the wine scene here. There’s a few bits and pieces I have read along the way which you may find interesting too:
Shadowfax is one of, if not the closest cellar doors to Melbourne being only a 30-minute drive
The King Valley in VIC’s north-east is known as Australia’s ‘Little Italy’ because it grows a number of Italian grape varieties
There’s a lot of diversity when it comes to the wineries of Victoria due to varying climates throughout the state
The Alpine Valleys region is one of the most visited wine regions in Australia due to many people stopping in on their skiing holidays
Beechworth is known for producing intense and complex Chardonnay
The first grape vines were planted in the Bendigo region in 1856, they are particularly known for producing outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon
Small, family owned wineries populate the Gippsland wine region
Glenrowan and Rutherglen produce world-renowned fortified wines
Tahbilk still produces wine from vines planted in the 1860s
The Goulburn Valley is home to the oldest and largest plantings of Marsanne grape vines in the world
Shiraz is synonymous with the Heathcote wine region
Riesling is the stand out variety in the Henty wine region
Today we welcome back Naomi Fuller who is sharing with us her plans for visiting Western Australia’s Pemberton wine region.
My last trip away was a whirlwind three days in the lead up to Christmas. It consisted of visiting Albany, Esperance and York, before heading back to Perth, covering over 1,600km – crazy right! Although exhausting, my partner and I have been talking about another trip down south, with a few extra days, a few less kilometers and a few less towns to visit.
We have decided to visit Pemberton in the Southern Forest region of Western Australia as it ticks two pretty important boxes for the two of us; mountain bike riding for him and tasting delicious wine for me.
What has worked out super well is we will be visiting the region at the same time as the Unearthed Festival; 26 April – 6 May, where we plan to take advantage of some of the great activities and wine events on offer.
About Pemberton and the Southern Forest Region
Located in the lower south-west region of Western Australia, Pemberton is approximately a 3.5 hours drive south of Perth and is 1.5 hours drive south-east of Margaret River or 2.5 hours North West of Denmark.
Majestic forests, exemplary wines and scrumptious farm gate produce make this a must-see stop-over on a Western Australian culinary odyssey. Gazetted as one of Australia’s newest wine producers, the small Pemberton Wine Region has already established a reputation for being one the most exciting emerging wine regions.”
Sounds amazing, right? I’m ready to start packing my bags!
Here’s a little more about the Pemberton wine region:
It consists of a mediterranean climate, which is slightly warmer and with higher humidity and more sunshine than the Great Southern sub-regions
Many of the vineyards adjoin karri forests
The region is ideal for growing pinot noir and chardonnay grapes and suited to the production of refined Bordeaux-style wines, however many other wine varieties are grown in the region
The region was gazetted in 2006, meaning it was formally recognised as a wine region
The first vines were planted by the Western Australia Department of Agriculture in 1977 on an experimental block midway between the towns of Pemberton and Manjimup
Most wineries are open daily, offering visitor tastings, however ring ahead of time to confirm
What is the best way to explore the Southern Forrest Wine Region?
Join a tour, such as Pemberton Discovery Tours or try to create your own. I will be lucky enough to have my partner chauffeur me for the day. Or if you’re looking to be a little more active, why not go for a bike ride through the karri forest between wineries.
Trails WA suggests a fantastic self-drive multi-day Southern Forests Wine Trail, covering Pemberton and Manjimup. This is a great starting point to see where the wineries in the region are located and the distances between them. All up, the self-drive tour covers approximately 130kms. By organising a self-drive tour, you’re given the opportunity to talk with winemakers, growers or owners of the wineries at a leisurely pace, while taking in breathtaking scenery, passing orchards and farms, towering forests and lush pastures.
If you do choose to drive between wineries, drive safe and nominate a skipper / designated driver for the day. Just remember to thank them with a bottle of wine at the end of the trip.
What Wineries are in the Southern Forests Region?
The Australian Good Food and Travel Guide, noted that there were 17 Southern Forest wineries and vineyards, however, I have found a couple more. If I have missed any, please let the Travelling Corkscrew know.
Malbec World Day is just around the corner so I thought it would be a great time to get to know the Malbec grape a little bit better. I have most definitely consumed my fair share of red wine made from Malbec over the years from around the world.
Malbec wine is typically known for its dark cherry red/violet colour, it can be so dark it nearly seems black. It is medium to full-bodied and is the perfect wine for those who love their meats and proteins.
Before we get stuck in, let’s check out some fun facts about the Malbec grape:
Malbec is one of the 6 grapes allowed in a Bordeaux red wine blend
It originated in Cahors in South West France where it is called Auxerrois or Côt Noir
It needs more sun and heat to ripen compared to Cab Sauv and Merlot which is why it’s typically grown in warmer climates
When is Malbec World Day?
Malbec World Day is on the 17th of April every year (check out more global wine days here). You can find out all about the day alongside events happening around the world on the website which was created by Wines of Argentina.
So make sure you crack a bottle of Malbec on the 17th and use the hashtag #MalbecWorldDay.
Where is Malbec grown?
Malbec grapes are grown around the world.
It is synonymous with Argentina (the most well-known regions are probably Mendoza, San Juan and Salta) where it was introduced to the country in 1852 by Michel Pouget. Currently, there are around 76,603 acres of Malbec vines in the country.
There are also many great examples of Malbec grown in other countries such as:
France (quite popular in Bordeaux and the Loire Valley especially)
Australia (South Australia and Victoria produce some good ones)
New Zealand (look for examples from the Hawkes Bay and Gisborne)
USA (quite popular in California, Washington & Oregon)
Malbec can either be a varietal wine (i.e. 100% made of Malbec) or used in a blend (typically to add colour).
Is Malbec dry?
Yes, it is classed as a dry red wine and it typically has bold, yet silky tannins. It can be quite fruity with sweet spices that may make it seem sweet to some palates.
What are the typical aromas and flavours you find in Malbec?
It really depends on where the grapes are grown and how the winemaker decides to craft the wine. However, these are some of the most popular flavours and aromas you may find in a wine made from Malbec:
Black fruit (think plums, cherries and blackberries)
I love my wine festivals, so this is also going to be good for personal use. My hope is, that like my Wine Days Calendar, that’ll I’ll update this every year. So make sure you bookmark this blog post too!
Also if anyone would like to sponsor me to travel around the country and attend all these, feel free to contact me ;)
Who knew you could have so much fun with paper bags! Have you ever thought about throwing a blind tasting wine party for your friends? If you haven’t even done one, it is some serious fun. Mr. Spittoon and I have thrown a number of blind tasting parties over the years, to the point that our friends continue to ask us when the next one is.
And a little booklet with some extra info about each of the wines such as food matches and how long each of the wines can cellar for
When you can’t see what wines you are drinking, it forces you to really use your senses and concentrate. It’s a great way to discuss wines with your friends, and a fun way to learn more about the great world of wine,” explains Christine Ricketts, Cellar Director at leading wine retailer Cellarmasters.
So how does this wine blind taste test work?
Well my friends, this is what I find very cool about this pack. I have never actually thought to hold a blind tasting party quite like this.
You number each of the paper bags 1-6
You put the wines into the bags **Hot Tip** If the person doing this doesn’t want to spoil the show for themselves, simply mix up the bags and put the wines in (avoid looking at the numbers). I would also suggest taking the caps off (they are all screw caps) as the branded ones may also give the game away!
Give everyone a blind tasting guide to read through
This handy little booklet explains how the tasting works, how to analyse each of the wines alongside tasting notes for each of the wines. I found this super handy, as it means you can taste and read through the notes to try and work out what’s what.
You can either give everyone 6 glasses (only advised if you have a dishwasher!) or just pour the wines one by one. I used my lovely Riedel Ouverture Red Wine Glasses to help the wines show at their best
As you go through the tasting you then put the number of each bottle alongside the wine you think it is
By having the tasting notes right there in front of you, it really makes you think about what’s in your glass. It also makes the fact that you’re blind tasting a little bit less daunting as you have a starting point rather than simply trying to guess from all the wines in the world (this is what I had to do when I completed my WSET Level 3 exam, from memory one of my blind taste tests was a Corvina from Italy!!).
Tasting tip from Cellarmasters:
Ask your friends to arrive with a ‘clear palate’
To properly appreciate a wine, your palate should be as ‘clear’ as possible. So kindly ask your friends to avoid drinking coffee, smoking or brushing their teeth at least two hours before the party.
Pick the Red Wine of the Year 2018 Winner
If you didn’t guess from the name of the 6-pack, they are the Cellarmasters Red Wine of the Year Finalists. From these 6 bottles, one will be crowned the King come June.
I have my suspicions on which one it might be, however, what I suggest you do, is grab your pack (currently $120, normally $173) and comment below with which one you think it might be.
Over the next week or so, I will be adding my tasting notes for each wine to this post. You’ll probably be able to work out which is my pick ;)
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