Wednesday, 6 July 2011

A trip to Heathcote!

My first post on my blog is on my recent trip to Heathcote. Having a spare day in Melbourne and popping into the Yarra on numerous occasions, as well as visiting Nagambie and Geelong previously, it was time to see what some of the other Victorian wine regions had to show. And man was I impressed!!
The area itself was a typical Australian bush type setting and not too dissimilar to the Hunter Valley in some respects. The roads were lined with Eucaplypts and wineries often tucked away up dirt tracks.

On the way in we came across this bridge. It was good enough to stop and take a photo. I wouldn't have the faintest idea about its history but it was built in 1867! Timber boards are still used and it's construction was ahead of it's time - considering what we see being used as functional now!




Our first stop was Heathcote Winery Cellar Door on the main street. A very warmly Cellar Door and an incredibly passionate host who was more than happy to share his knowledge on the area and of course, the wines!
Heathcote Winery wines were a tidy lot overall. Viognier was characterised by typical elements but was not my type. Lacked a little kick for mine. The Mail Coach Shiraz was great! Shiraz component was super. Wonderful depth and colour. Lovely mouthfeel and soft tannins on the finish. A touch of viognier was thrown in and added to the wine well but did not knock you out with the floral perfume which is akin to walking into the fragrant section of Myer as you are felled to the ground and gasping for air!
The Slaughterhouse Shiraz 08 was outstanding! Big dark fruit and warm, full palate. Warm in the sense it was wholesome not warm as in alcohol out of balance. A cracker wine!!

It was here we also learnt some interesting info on the wines and the area. Most of the wines in the area we are told have a splash of viognier. Now although this is not a surprise as wine makers have been doing this for ages, the fact so many Shiraz wines had a splash was a surprise. Also interesting on the viognier front was how many wineries were happy to share the fact viognier was present and others shied away from it. They ranged from 2-10% I found. Once again, not a secret but many would assume the shiraz's coming from Heathcote are 100% shiraz, nothing more, nothing less. Furthermore, we also learnt that some of the Heathcote Winery shiraz vines were grafted onto Traminer and Pinot root stock which of course adds character to the berries and their appearance, ripening and of course enriches what ends up in the glass.

Next stop was Flynns where we also had lunch. Lamb shanks with maple glaze. Wow!! An absolutely magical place to have lunch. The overcast cold day was very quickly warmed up when we stepped inside the cellar door and Heathcotean Bistro. Our table looked out across the vineyard. A wonderful setting indeed!

The cellar door was cozy and wines well made. As soon as we arrived we were made to feel at home. The staff's knowledge of the product and the local area was oustanding! We thoroughly enjoyed the conversation and the passion shared by our host.
It was here at Flynn's we found the "winner" for the day, the MC Shiraz. MC standing for multi clone, as there are four clones of Shiraz present in this wine. A great wine on all levels and I definately recommend you get your mitts on it. 14 months in oak - American (40 % new) and French. Only the best barrels are used for this wine and the finished product demands attention. Fruit was spot on. Excellent palate weight and length. $35. Bargain.
The Lewis Road shiraz was also impressive. The fruit was a little denser than the MC and a slip of viognier was present here too. The Viognier doesn't make its presence felt which is great - it just takes the edge off the wine slightly. Oak and fruit are top notch. $20 = value. Plenty of these two made their way home!

Munari was the next cellar door we ventured to. A small family operation and tiny cellar door. You can see the hands on approach in the wines. Schoolhouse Red 07 was my pick, a blend of Cabernet, Shiraz and Petit Verdot. Colour had mauve tinges with a dark hue. Some mint and capsicum on the nose. Mid weighted palate with good grip and long finish. $25.

Final stop was Heathcote Estate. Labels presented here were Heathcote Estate (of course!), Yabby Lake, Red Claw and Cooralook.  Standouts were Yabby Lake pinot and chardonnay and Heathcote Grenache Noir.

In all, a great trip and I recommend you check out Heathcote if you can!