As a friend’s personal photo album from this day of our Australia trip on Facebook says, “Our friends were visiting from India, so we had to show them wine and kangaroos.” We were staying with friends in Melbourne, and a quick day trip to the Mornington wine region was imperative. So before going to visit the strange creatures of Australia at the Moonlit Sanctuary, we decided to spend the morning knocking on cellar doors, to taste a sampling of the wines this picturesque region offers.
It was a gloomy rainy day when we started out. We peeped between wiper blades as the city turned to countryside beyond our rain splattered windscreen. The car’s tyres skid through the mud, and when we rolled down the windows the lush green smell made the instant humidity almost bearable. Before long we were outside the gates of our first stop for the morning.
1. Moorooduc Estate
We parked and met Jill (the affable owner) who first asked us if we’d been visiting any vineyards elsewhere in Australia recently. We excitedly told her this was our first. Turns out she wasn’t making small talk. She just wanted to know if we were carrying any bacteria or plant diseases on our shoes. I’m not quite sure whether she would have made us step into a bacteria bath, put on shoe covers or go barefoot had we replied in the affirmative. Walking over to the vineyards out the back, we sighed as we caught out first sight of row after row of neat vines, turning so slightly yellow for the season. Our friend (being in the f&b business), talked shop with her for a while, with us tuning in and out as words like vintage, crop, weather, soil were thrown around. Showing us their stock of casks and barrels, I loved how there was a cute duck stamped on each one of them. We saw this massive and very traditional looking machine that they sometimes used to crush the grapes before stepping in for a bit of tasting. Enroute, we were distracted by a very pretty peacock just dawdling about. Vineyards and peacocks, my day was made! Instructing us to feel free to spit out anything we didn’t like, Jill proceeded to take us through some fabulous wines. While they are better known for their Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, we loved the McIntyre Whole Bunch Shiraz 2010 a bottle of which sits in our bar at home, waiting for the perfect occasion.
Up next was one of the most significant producers. Our friend informed us that it was undoubtedly one of the best Chardonnays around. I however, was feeling a bit woozy, and wasn’t that big on Chardonnay anyway, so decided to give it a skip. Definitely did appreciate the beauteous vineyard at the back though.
3. Paringa Estate
We finally got to the piece de resistance of the day. Known for its award winning reds, this vineyard produced some of the finest Shirazs I’ve had outside of the Barossa. And they’ve got an entire range of them to suit every pocket. We decided to play this little game of “If this wine were a person, who would it be” and I most certainly found my George Clooney. We sampled a few more, included a splendid dessert wine, all the while getting increasingly tipsy. Thankfully we’d called ahead and reserved a table at their restaurant, where we proceeded to ooh and aah over course after course of elegant and delicious local food. This was where we tried wallaby for the first time, and unfortunately, really enjoyed it.
The Mornington wine region just south of Melbourne, makes a beautiful day trip for a bit of wine sampling as well as the wonderful vistas and weather. (It did clear up after a while, and we absolutely enjoyed it). Have you been cellar hopping anywhere in the world? What kind of wines did you try and enjoy?