Archives for posts with tag: Phaedrus

It is a strange thing, but in Australia we have a public holiday so that we can celebrate the birthday of the Queen of the United Kingdom.  Now I grant you that she is still the Australian head of state, and in terms of ruling things she does a pretty good job, and she has been ruling things for a very long time – but this is something they don’t even get time off for in the UK!  Not that I am complaining – I’d much rather have Queenie (God bless you Ma’m) as head of state than some hideous Abbott-Berlusconesque character as President complete with Bunga Bunga parties hosted by good catholic virgin girls.

I digress.  The sound people of the Mornington Peninsula Vignerons Association (MPVA) have picked the Queen’s birthday long weekend as the time for the Winter Wine Weekend – a festival of fine Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and the latest in ModOz cooking.  This year 49 wineries assembled their wares in the shed on the Red Hill show grounds to showcase their wines.

Inside the Red Hill shed - Winter Wine Weekend 2015

Inside the Red Hill shed – Winter Wine Weekend 2015

One of the most important skills you need to take with you into the shed is the ability to swirl, slurp and then spit.  Technique is everything.  You will be swirling and slurping with some of Melbourne’s most fanatical and fastidious wine bores – it’s just as important to have the correct glass action as it is to have your Hunter wellies in this season’s colour or your hipster beard trimmed to perfection.  Of all these skills however, the spitting is the most important, for this simple reason – if you don’t you’ll end up so drunk that you probably won’t remember how the day ended – and chances are it will not have ended well.  The maths tells all.  There are 49 wineries.  Imagine you were able to get round them all and taste everything.  You’re looking at roughly half a glass of wine per winery, so say 25 glasses in total.  25 glasses of wine equates to about five bottles.  Five bottles of wine over lunch is a huge – but dangerous – achievement, so back to the spitting.

Most people find the spitting a bit unpleasant – it doesn’t feel very polite, and it’s hard to remain chic and elegant when you’re lining up to douse the spittoon.  All I can say is that it comes down to confidence.  Spit with confidence.  Announce to the world “I do this all the time!” and let rip.  Add a flourish at the end.  There are only two major risks with spitting – the first is that you don’t form the correct shape with your teeth and lips and manage to shoot the wine down your chin and onto your shirt – very messy.  The second is that you miss the spittoon completely and hit the glass of the person standing next to you – very embarrassing.  While you are getting the hang of it, there is no reason why you can’t move the spittoon to a place where you can guarantee a hit.  But with the spittoon in your hand, NEVER feel tempted to do a Sideways, no matter how desperate the urge.

Winter Wine Weekend 2015

Winter Wine Weekend 2015

I tried quite a number of wineries.  The ones I was most interested in were those that don’t have a cellar door.  Yal Yal put on a good show.  Very well made wines.  The Chardonnay is of that acidic style – no malolactic fermentation.  I think my preference is for the rather more traditional and softer Chardonnays, but alternatives are always good.  Principia also showed some good wines.  My feeling was that they needed just a little longer in the bottle to settle and integrate.  I bought Phaedrus Chardonnay to go with lunch, and Elan’s sparkling was superb as always.

A good day out.  May it continue for many years.



Our grape harvest is in and – well it was dismal.  The super new spray unit and tractor kept the disease away but the yield!  Last year we picked just under 500 kg of Chardonnay – this year 300 kg.  Pinot Noir, last year 450 kg – this year 140 kg.  I’d heard from several people that everybody on the Peninsula had suffered the same fate thanks to a cold, wet December at fruit set time.  The wines will be pretty good – there just won’t be that much to go around.  We put the Pinot Noir through the crusher destemmer and then stood around the 500 litre fermenter looking down at a sad, lonely pile of grape pulp way down there in the bottom of the tank.

There was only one thing to do – have lunch.  Mussels cooked and smoked under pine needles on a piece of galvo – quite delicious.  Ooodles of pancetta, prosciutto and capocollo, followed by a huge loin of pork.  Wines from Phaedrus, Stumpy Gully and Bluestone Lane – and our own cellar.

After that we made the decision to throw everything in a bucket and let it be what it will be.  So we pressed out the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir together, and will create some form of Rose – wild yeast ferment.  The grape juice tasted delicious.  Who knows what the wine will be like, but I’m going to dig out my sparkling wine recipe.  Should be a lot of fun – something special from a pretty ordinary year.

The weekend before, when I was hunting around for local wines for the lunch, left me with a really good feeling about the people I met on the cellar doors.  Maïtèna at Phaedrus, Jason at Stumpy Gully and John at Bluestone were all excellent – knowledgeable about the wines, generous with the tasting and with a deal for cellar door visitors.

I am very pleased to announce the vinblue 2013 Mornington Peninsula cellar door awards – Hastings Rules apply.

Best shedMiceli. Its unmistakeably a shed, with wine in it.

Best value diningDarling Park. Sigi’s at Northway Downs, and Jones Road remain good value for money but Darling Park are doing great things with their platters, simple lunch plates and pizzas. Good wine selection to go with the food.

Best fine dining – Not awarded this year. It’s my own fault – I just haven’t been to enough places to be able to give you a considered opinion.

Best Sparkling Wine at a cellar doorElan Estate Sparkling. I’m giving this to Selma for a second year running, for her 2011 vintage. There are a lot of sparkling wines available now on the Peninsula, but Elan still has it. Prices have gone up a little to $28, but it still represents great value.

Best Chardonnay at a cellar doorParinga Estate Chardonnay. A beautiful example of Mornington Peninsula Chardonnay – fruit perfectly integrated with a touch of new oak.

Best Pinot Noir at a cellar doorPhaedrus Pinot Noir. Phaedrus get the award for being able to pull a really decent wine out of a horrible year – 2011 – and at a price of just over $20. The Mr Wolf is worth trying too. Honourable mentions are Bluestone Lane and Stumpy Gully.

Best other white at a cellar doorWillow Creek Pinot Gris. This was one of the harder decisions, because there are a number of worthy contenders including the Paringa Reisling, Yabby Lake Pinot Gris and the Darling Park Olivarni Pinot Gris.

Best other red at a cellar doorElan Shiraz. Loved the 2010 vintage, which is just about sold out now unfortunately. Rich flavours with white pepper – a great example of a cool climate Shiraz. The 2010 Tempranillo from the Vale vineyard is still available and is still great value.

Best overall cellar door experienceYabby Lake. Brilliant – I went in one day and had a simple plate of terrine with glass of Red Claw Sauvignon Blanc and then a Pinot Noir. Delicious food, great atmosphere, good service and excellent cellar door staff, reasonable prices and they picked up the 2013 Jimmy Watson trophy for their Block 1 Pinot.

Hastings Rules – we don’t count Main Ridge Estate. Nat and Rosalie White are legends in their own underwear (and probably everybody else’s too). They would win most things most years, so they remain vinblue legends and do not have to fight it out with the rest of them.

I had a very good afternoon recently at Phaedrus.  They came up with the most excellent idea of a barrel tasting.  Fourteen barrels moved into the car park – four Chardonnay and ten Pinot Noir.  You paid $10, were given a syringe and a tasting glass – and off you go.

Barrel tasting at Phaedrus

Barrel tasting at Phaedrus

The really interesting part was to taste how the different types and ages of the oak barrels changed the flavour of the wine.  The Chardonnay in new oak was superb and strikingly different to the Chardonnay in a five year old barrel.  Similarly the Pinot Noir in a new Saint Martin barrel was divine and different again to the two other makes on display.

It was a glorious day, a clever idea, a fantastic tasting experience – and they even threw in a cheese platter.  Good job.

I’ve had two very successful cellar door visits recently.  The first was to Phaedrus, a small vineyard on Mornington-Tyabb Road.  The cellar door itself is an unassuming, but attractive little building – very simple, and there is a very strong chance you will be served by the winemakers – Maïtèna or Ewan.  What I really appreciate about Phaedrus though is value for money.  I find the wines to be excellent – some quality in depth here – but at $20 a bottle for the whites (Chardonnay, Pinot Gris) and $24 for the reds (Pinot Noir, Shiraz) they are a real bargain.  There is a reserve Pinot Noir at $45.  Highly recommended.

Contrast Phaedrus with Hurley vineyard on Balnarring Road.  Hurley is a premium Pinot Noir producer – that is all they make – different wines coming from different areas of the vineyard with different pinot clones.  For me the stand out wine was the Garamond 2010.  At $63 a bottle you would hope for something a bit special, and this I think does deliver.

And finally, something I have enjoyed from Willow Creek – a great idea from Geraldine McFaul – the Chardonnay Project.  Four chardonnays made from the same juice, but treated in different ways.  There are genuine but subtle differences between the wines and it’s fun trying to work out what they are.