Archives for posts with tag: shiraz

Best value diningNorthway Downs.  It remains the same crazy Austrian themed carry-on that it’s always been, but you can guarantee a good time, great oompah music and the best schnitzels on the peninsula.  A most excellent afternoon out.

Best fine diningSalix at Willow Creek.  This is unfortunately a celebration of things now lost.  Last week Salix shut up shop at Willow Creek as the new owners of the property push ahead with their plans to build a conference centre.  The restaurant has been running there for around eleven years – I remember being emotionally moved by venison sausages and puy lentils, and a fabulous scallop dish.  Amazing food, a great venue and excellent service.  I for one will miss you Salix – so long and thanks for all the confit!

Best Sparkling Wine at a cellar doorStonier.  Their 85% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Noir blend is brilliant.  The Rose is fabulous too.

Best Chardonnay at a cellar doorYabby Lake.  The thing about the cellar door at Yabby Lake is that it is consistently good – no matter what you ask for.  Dropping in for a Chardonnay on the way home from Mornington is a real treat, and it doesn’t get much better than the Yabby Lake Single Vineyard Chardonnay.

Best Pinot Noir at a cellar doorHurley.  The Garamond – stunning.  You just know when you’ve found something special, and this is it.  A great flagship wine for the Mornington Peninsula.

Best other white at a cellar doorTucks Ridge.  For just about everything non-Chardonnay really.  The winemaker, Michael Kyberd, has produced a great range of whites which are excellent examples of their varietals – Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Savagnin.  If you’re not sure how these should taste, head on down to Tuck’s Ridge.

Best other red at a cellar door100 Hunts Shiraz.  This was available at the Merricks General Store, and is a great example of a Mornington Peninsula Shiraz.

Best overall cellar door experience – Merricks General Store.  An inspirational example of what you can do with an old shed on a country road.  It has a good range of wines to taste, coffee, food and a produce store – and it’s all so gorgeous darlink!  Honourable mentions in this category have to go to: Polperro, Stumpy Gully Vineyard, Moorooduc Estate and Paringa.

Hastings Rules – we don’t count Main Ridge Estate.  Nat and Rosalie White are icons and would win most things most years, so they remain vinblue legends and do not have to fight it out with the rest of them.  But if you haven’t been to Main Ridge, then don’t delay.  Nat and Rosalie are moving on.

Best shed – I’ve taken out the best shed award this year – because I’ve run out of sheds to give it to.  everybody is going up market.  The best sheds are of course Elan Vineyard, Merricks Estate, Miceli.  Myrtaceae might count as a shed – it’s a very smart shed.



I recently had an excellent cellar door experience at the Merricks General Store.  This old Peninsula building is now the home for three vineyards – Quealy, Elgee Park and Baillieu.  Quealy has recently been bought out, but the wines are still available there, as well as some other interesting guest wines.

It’s a lovely space – very charming, and a great range of white wines on tasting including Quealy’s now legendary Pobblebonk, to the exotic Friulano, then two Viogniers, Pinot Gris and Reisling.  There was also a fine Chardonnay from Dexter.  The reds available include three Pinot Noirs, a Nebbiolo and the Vaughan Vineyard 100 Hunts Shiraz.


The surprise for me was a Rose from Myrtaceae.  This tiny vineyard makes great Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but a Rose from Pinot and Shiraz – most unusual.

It’s all well made wine.  I came away with the:

  • Elgee Park Family Reserve Reisling 2014 – $30 – beautifully fresh.
  • Selwyns Fault Myrtaceae Rose – $25
  • Vaughan Vineyard 100 Hunts Shiraz – $30 – not a heavy, stuffy old shiraz.  Something I can only describe as “uplifting”.

Although the Merricks General Store is now really about good food – including breakfast – and wine, they do still hold true to the idea of selling provisions.  Along one wall are a whole range of exotic preserves and organic chocolates to tempt you.


Out of the back of the store itself is a little art gallery no less.

So all in all a great place to visit – three excellent vineyards all producing wine in the sound to fine category and the prices make them reasonable value.

Moorooduc Estate should be on your list of cellar doors to visit if you love decent Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  It’s the home of Richard McIntyre who has been making wine on the Peninsula since the early 1980s.  Richard makes the wine for Moorooduc and wine for number of other vineyards on the Peninsula.  If you like Peninsula wine, there is a good chance you’ve had something made by Mr McIntyre.  He used to make the wine for Osborns Harwood vineyard when Frank Osborn was alive – and most excellent wine it was too.

Wine at Moorooduc Estate

Wine at Moorooduc Estate

One of the most striking things about Moorooduc are the buildings.  They are magnificent rammed earth creations with a warm ochre finish.  I find it a lot friendlier than the rather austere colour of Port Phillip/Kooyong.  What you don’t get a sense of as you enter the cellar door is the scale of the building.  They used to run Jill’s restaurant from a stunning dining room over looking the vineyard – complete with a wooden roof in the form of a perfect sinewave, and polished concrete floors.  The restaurant does still open, but only once a month for lunch.  Get on the mailing list if you are interested.

Moorooduc Estate restaurant and tower

Moorooduc Estate restaurant and tower

Four wine varieties are on offer at the cellar door – Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Shiraz.  For the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir there are four price points:

Devil Blend – typically $28 a bottle – made from a blend of wine with grapes sourced from other local vineyards, including Osborns Harwood and the Garden.

Moorooduc Estate – typically $35 a bottle – with fruit from the Moorooduc vineyard.

Robinson Vineyard – at $55 a bottle – from the vineyard of Hugh Robinson, Moorooduc’s viticulturist.

McIntyre – $55 to $65 a bottle – the “reserve” label.

The Pinots are 2011, but good despite that.  The day I visited there was a 2009 McIntyre Pinot Noir available to taste, and that was most excellent.  Of the whites, I preferred the Moorooduc Estate Chardonnay, and the 2010 McIntyre Whole Bunch Shiraz is a fantastic earthy, berry concoction.

Moorooduc cellar door

Moorooduc cellar door

Probably not the most child friendly of cellar doors – although you could leave little ones outside to chase the peacocks, and you can buy Alpaca wool teddy bears.

Wine in the Fine category.

Pier 10 – has a good feel to the place.  They have an interesting history – sometimes on the MPVA map and sometimes not, but whatever, they have been pursuing their own wine making and hospitality direction for well over a decade now and the results are impressive.  When I visited recently the place was full of people who didn’t look in a hurry to leave.

Pier 10 vineyard November 2013

Pier 10 vineyard November 2013

They grow Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir and buy in Shiraz from Heathcote.  Out of this mix comes two sparkling wines: one with a bit of everything bar the Shiraz, and a Rose from the Pinot Noir.  I am not a great fan of blending Chardonnay with Pinot Gris – I just don’t think that it works very well – so of the two the Rose was the one I preferred.

Pier 10 - back of the cellar door - November 2013

Pier 10 – back of the cellar door – November 2013

Of their still wines, I thought the Cam’s Chardonnay was excellent, as was the Pinot Rose – and they pulled off a really decent 2011 Pinot Noir.  The best part of all this – a cellar door special offer with 12 wines, including the ones I have mentioned – for $150 which is really good value.

Pier 10 cellar door dining area - platters and pizza - November 2013

Pier 10 cellar door dining area – platters and pizza – November 2013

There is a fantastic deck out the back overlooking a beautiful green valley – just perfect for lounging.  And the prices are reasonable.  Wines start at $22 and end up in the mid 30s.  I must try the restaurant.

So definitely worth a visit – a very Sound cellar door.

The other evening I was down at the beach having a swim. The water is freezing, but the experience is sensational. In my mind I’m Daniel Craig emerging from the water in those powder blue shorts (Casino Royal). In reality I’m a middle aged guy in lycra swim shorts, carrying too much weight to pull it off, but you have to have some self-belief – what else is there?

Daniel Craig - Casino Royale

Daniel Craig – Casino Royale

Out of the corner of my eye I spotted something bouncing up the beach. It can be a bit unnerving when you meet real sea creatures – they tend to be so much better at moving through the water than us humans, and one end is usually full of teeth.  It turned about to be a little seal.  The poor thing looked absolutely buggered.  He collapsed on the sand, closed his eyes, and for all the world looked like he just wanted a sleep. I can only think that he lost his way from Seal Rock and ended up on the wrong side of the Bay.

Anyway, so as not to scare passers-by, I put clothes on and looked for the number of the wildlife rescue people.  If nothing else I figured I must at least ask somebody if there was anything I should do. And I imagined I would be on the phone for a while, so broke open the car wine cellar and got a glass of red. As the wildlife rescue recorded message droned on about the danger of cats to native wildlife I got to thinking what is the most appropriate wine to drink when undertaking worthy acts of indigenous Australian aquatic wildlife preservation? Pinot Noir? Not really manly enough. Shiraz, very Australian? Didn’t seem right either. The answer was obvious – a rich and complex wine for a rich and complex situation – Grenache, Shiraz, Mouvedre – GSM. So I will ensure the wine cellar is stocked with at least one bottle of the Langmeil GSM just in case this situation occurs again.

Anyway, the wildlife rescue people never answered the phone, the seal growled at me every time I went too near it and then fell asleep again, so in the end I decided I wasn’t really adding much value at all – I went home.  The little chap wasn’t there the next morning.  I just hope he had a good sleep and got back to catching fish.

The cellar door at Elan.

The cellar door at Elan.

Good value offerings at Elan vineyard.  They have recently released their 2011 sparkling wine (Chardonnay) for $28 a bottle which is most excellent.  There are two reds available from 2010 – a Shiraz and a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend, both for around $23 a bottle.  The reds are very interesting – so different to the Pinot Noirs that get made in this area.  It’s well worth trying – and if you can’t get to the cellar door, some of the wines are available at the Balnarring Richies IGA.

Whenever I go to the Yarra Valley, it feels like I’m meeting up with the Mornington Peninsula’s grown-up brother.  The vineyards always seem that bit bigger, the cellar doors that bit more impressive and the business of wine making is taken more seriously.

I recently visited two of the best – De Bortoli and Yering Sation – both excellent producers of great wines.  It is interesting to compare their attitude to the tasting fee.  Generally I’m in favour of a tasting fee at around $5.  It means there is no obligation to buy if you really don’t like what’s on offer, and it does help the winemaker recoup some of the cost of opening the cellar door.  At De Bortoli you have to pay your $5 up front – you don’t even get to start unless you hand over the cash.  At Yering Station they don’t even have a tasting fee.

I can understand why De Bortoli have that policy – the day I visited there was a coach load in the cellar door and more than a few were “tired and emotional”.  I don’t think there was a lot of tasting going on per se – at least nobody did the Sideways spittoon trick.

Both have good restaurants, although Yering wins the architecture competition.  The restaurant and winery are housed in a very impressive building with great views over a green valley.  The Yering cellar door is an older building – one large room with a square central bar and original art around the walls.  It has a great feel to it, and the day we visited there were there some really knowledgeable staff on hand.

At Yering we ended up buying some excellent silky Shiraz, at De Bortoli it was Chardonnay. De Bortoli has thirty different wine labels – not all available at the cellar door, but it gives you a feel for the size of the enterprise.   For both vineyards the 2011 Pinot Noir is to be avoided – taste before you buy.  The Yarra Valley had similar problems to the peninsula.

So two excellent cellar doors – both really worth a visit.

Elan – the winner of the 2011 vinblue “Best Shed” award – and a very fine shed it is too:

Elan Vineyard cellar door

As with Main Ridge Estate, if you want to touch the heart of wine making on the Mornington Peninsula, then you have to pay Elan a visit.  Elan is on the MPVA map and is only open on public holidays and the first weekend of the month – and that is the first weekend where both the Saturday and Sunday fall into the month.

Invariably you will be met at the cellar door by Selma, and therein lies the charm of this place.  Selma and her family look after the grapes and make the wine.  In that shed you’ll see the press, the tanks, the barrels and even some of the lab equipment.  It’s as real as it gets.

The wine just gets better and better.  The Gamay was always a bit problematic, but now in a Rose form it’s great.  The reisling has become a sticky “Dessert Riesling” and is delicious.  There is a really well made sparkling wine and some impressive reds.  My favourite at the moment is the Merlot.

The wines at Elan Vineyard cellar door

In the past the Shiraz picked up the best red wine in show at the Red Hill Cool Climate Wine Show.  Prices are in the low AUD$20 range.

S – good value