Thursday, 5 January 2012

Wine tour experience in the Yarra Valley: Part 2/3 From France to Italy...

... after a little appetizer at the Chandon Domain we decided to head further down towards Healesville and aimed for Oakridge Winery.

Fifth stop: Oakridge winery

Awarded best winery 2012 by the Good Wine guide, this winery has got it! A family owned winery which combines beautiful views, great food and award winning wines. This is a growing business which has seen its sales increase by 20% from 2008 to 2010 and by 30% last year. The restaurant has a lovely relaxed and friendly feel and the two chefs work relentlessly to offer high quality food.
The aim is for Oakridge to be one of the only 3 restaurants in the Yarra Valley to receive the well renowned chef hat distinction.
There are also plans on the wall showing a forthcoming extension which  will will cater for many more customers, let's hope it does not turn into a massive tour operator industry and lose its charm.

Products to remember:
Chardonnay 864, gold medal 2010 and Pinot Noir 2008

Sixth stop: Tokar Estate
From Italy...

Where Yarra Valley meets Tuscani... It's hard not to associate the Tokar estate to the Italian hills of Tuscani when you first lay your eyes on the beautiful Mediterranean style mansion sitting comfortably in the middle of lavish vines, green trees and colourful flowers.
On arrival, we got introduced to Rita Tokar, the proud estate owner (with her husband Leon) who took the time to tell us a lot about this Yarra Valley jewel. It did not take long for us to realize how much pride and passion filled Rita's heart when she talked about her estate!
My stomach was far from full with a shared small Chandon salad and polenta chips and we decided to stay and enjoy a cheese platter and to share a glass of 2008 Tempranillo (Rioja style of red wine). The local cheeses were delicious and beautifully plated which certainly added to our true enjoyment.
It is (my) custom to finish any good meal with a coffee. There again, in a pure Italian tradition we enjoyed a real nectar accompanied by scromptious homemade chocolate truffle and pistachio fudge!

Products to remember:
2008 Tempranillo (Red), 2008 Joie de vivre Sparkling Chardonnay/Pinot noir/Pinot Meunier, 2007 Chardonnay.

Seventh stop: Dominique Portet Estate
... to France...

Home, sweet home. Allez les Bleus, etc, etc...  As a French wine lover, You can imagine the high level of expectation I had when I drove into the estate. My French senses were all over the place, ready to embrace the "Sud-Ouest de la France experience" in the Yarra Valley, especially when you know that Dominique's dad was André Portet, the régisseur (vineyard & winery manager) of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild in Pauillac.
For any Bordeaux connoisseur you cannot get better than that, maybe as good but not better!
Et voilà... Scorching heat and a "Pétanque" court (The Famous French boules game)  - all you needed to complete this re-enaction of South of France was a Pastis, a jug of iced water, olives and the crickets singing in the background!
However, I came back to Aussie reality when there was no French native there to be found inside the building which was a little disappoiting.
However, Stephen was there and welcomed us with a great "bonjour" and a big smile that made me instantly remember why I love Australia so much.
Ok, Stephen was not French but he knew his wine collection by heart and had the passion and experience you would rightly expect from the winery host.
Marian was invited to try the Fontaine Rosé which unfortunately was a little bit too dry for her.(I personally like it crispy as it was)
When told there was a wine very similar to Bordeaux, I had to try and see this with my own... taste buds! The 2008 Cabernet Sauvigon Merlot indeed brought  me back in time and reminded me that for as much as I like Shiraz,  I seriously miss Bordeaux. This was indeed as close as you can get. Verdict: 10/10...and you know what? For $45 the bottle, you don't even need to break the bank!
I look forward to meeting Dominique one day and tell him "in French" how much I enjoyed my visit there!

Products to remember:
André 2006 (blend of Cab-Sav and Shiraz), Dominique Portet 2008, Sparkling Brut Rosé NV and 2011 Fontaine Rosé.

Come back in a couple of days for our final chapter of our Wine tour experience in the Yarra Valley:
Part 3/3 via... Australia!

To book a wine tour in your own car, call 1300 We Drive (1300 9337483)
We also offer these tours in French and Japanese!

and follow us on twitter @driversonscoot and/or find us on


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