Where Australia Best Wine Comes From

Yarra valley was picturesque, even on a wet, cloudy day like that day. I am sure my dad would love to retire here. It has all the things he relishes: wine, greenery, unobtrusiveness, and farm animals.

My knowledge of winery came from watching back to back episodes of the TV series Brothers and Sisters. As the owner of the Walker Landing winery, their family dramas were never lacking. It appeared extravagant on TV, which was the reason I settled on going for a wine-tasting trip to Yarra Valley when my friends asked me to.

Our first stop of the tour was Dominique Portet, a French family’s winery. We met one of the family members, Valentine. I instantaneously liked Valentine, with her curly ginger hair and sense of style; I liked her even more so when she praised my shocking pink beanie, which my friends pleaded with me to take off earlier. “You look outrageous,” they said. Well, wasn’t that the point?

She began with a fascinating fact about the imported barrels (from France). They throw them away after two times usage. I assumed the more you reuse the barrel, the more distinctive the wine kept inside it would taste. I was incorrect. “It ended up ruining the taste of the wine” she said.

She passed us each a wine glass to sample four different types of wine. I fell in love with their rose wine, called Rose Brut, pink in color. “This wine is famous in Europe during summer,” Valentine said, “because it’s an easy drink.” It has a nickname:

“Summer in a bottle”

I coincided. Sweet and light, it’s a perfect summer-y pick me up on a chilly afternoon like today.

We then headed to our lunch place, R xx, a restaurant mixed with the winery. I had salmon, and cake, and coffee, and wine. It was delightful. After lunch, we explored the gift shop. They had a good collection, including a few items that raised my eyebrows, like chutneys. Why would they sell mango chutney in a winery?

Our last place, Domaine Chandon, was a giant winery owned by the same company that owns a famous luxury brand. “It’s a multi-million dollar business,” the private guide kept reminding us. At least, he was thorough; he took us through the whole process of winemaking, which was exciting. I mostly enjoyed the part when they separate the yeast from the wine. He told us that was why in medieval movies they cut the wine mouth with a sword; to get rid of the yeast. And here I had been cursing the barbaric act while mourning the waste of a good drink.

At the end of the tour, he made us select from three types of wine (One choice? Duh, so much for wine tasting). I chose the second one, though I didn’t catch the name. It was French, and it has a blue sounding word. He told me that it was less dry than the first one he described and sweet. A fine choice. I contemplated buying another bottle of wine from there since after all we were in a winery, but I stopped myself. I have heard the words “multimillion-dollar company” like multimillions of times (the man was passionate about the company he worked for, I give him that), and I didn’t feel like adding their multimillions particularly because I am not a multimillionaire, yet. I saw many people bought wines from there, though. Maybe I will try their famous sparkling wine in an upmarket restaurant back home on a special event.

As you may have guessed, I bought the so-called bottle of summer from Dominique Portet. I plan to fly it 4000 miles home so I can open it with Fafa on an extraordinary occasion, including a “we have a fancy wine, let’s celebrate!” type of occasion.

Does flying a Summer in a Bottle across the continent qualify me to be a wine snob? I did try nine types of wine, and I can articulate Sauvignon Blanc with confidence. No? Naah, I also don’t think so but I am starting to understand why wine enthusiasts become well… snobs; recognizing and drinking wine is a luxurious act which, pursued continually, would even turn a neon-colored-beanie-wearing girl into a fancy-schmancy wine snob elitist.

Next time, I plan to stay for a couple of nights at a winery’s B&B and have wine for breakfast, a facial, perfume, lunch, shower, tea, and dinner.

A shout out to Esdon Lee, the best tour guide we had the chance to cross paths with in Australia. He was extremely knowledgeable and a joyful fellow. I could see he loves his job and adores Yarra valley more than I do. We enjoyed our trip more thanks to him.


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