Thursday, August 28, 2014


As I look back at photos I have of my parents time here in Melbourne, it fills me with great satisfaction that we were able to do so much in the two weeks that they were here. Like me, my parents love to explore and during their time here in Melbourne, it was crucial that I brought them to the Yarra Valley region to check out some of the wineries, cheese factories and chocolatiers that dot this beautiful region. 

It happened to be quite overcast and rainy the day I had planned for us to visit the region, but with four enthusiastic lovers of good wine, cheese and chocolate - the weather didn't affect us one bit when I think back. 

We made our way first to Yering Station Winery for a quick look around, checking out the gallery space and the food hall which stocked a range of artisan food products and beauty brands such as Aesop. 

Moving quickly on, we made our way to the Yarra Valley Dairy cheese factory. The beautiful shop at the dairy is located in the original 100 year old milking shed on the farm, right beside the cheese factory. The staff at the shop encourage visitors to taste a selection of fresh handmade cheeses and locally produced wines when you visit and afterwards visitors are able to roam around the shop, which stocks a range of regional and specialist produce such as jams, relishes, beautiful home wares and gifts. The shop also serves cheese plates which are accompanied by locally baked breads and various regionally produced charcuterie meats. The shop also has have over sixty wines available to purchase from several independent winemakers, as well as ciders and beers from neighbouring breweries. A trip to the Yarra Valley Dairy is essential for any foodie's travelling to the Yarra Valley region. 
Our afternoon however, was mostly spent at Domaine Chandon, a winery associated with luxury brand Moët Hennessy Collection.

The wine industry began in the Yarra Valley region when three brothers: William, James and Donald Ryrie, planted the very first vines in the early 1800s. The 1800's was a very successful time for Yarra Valley wineries, especially with the exporting of product to Europe, however this slowed down at the beginning of the 19th century. Later, in the 1960’s, the region enjoyed a renaissance with some of Australia’s wine making icons rediscovering the Yarra Valley, amongst them Mount Mary, Yeringberg, Yarra Yering, Wantirna Estate and St Hubert’s. Many vineyards have since benefited from the region’s rich loamy soils, gentle fresh breezes, warm afternoon sun and cool nights; a perfect recipe for making exceptional wine. With that, the Yarra Valley possessed wine quality credentials that attracted Moët & Chandon down under and led to the establishment of the Chandon brand in Australia.  

Located at the southern end of the Great Dividing Range, the Yarra Valley offers a diverse terrain varying from the cool valley floor to the colder Upper Yarra Valley slopes. The great thing about Domaine Chandon is that it offers unrivalled exposure to the wine making experience within the region. One can learn all about the wine making process through the tour, which I found both entertaining and informative - helping to reinforce Domaine Chandon's position as a world class tourist destination within this area.

The tour offers visitors the chance to see a world class winery at work, with impressive graphic displays and interactive story panels, which gives visitors a detailed look at how Chandon produces it various still and sparkling wines. Featuring photography of Domaine Chandon's Yarra Valley property and its Strathbogie vineyard, the tour also outlines Domaine Chandon's impressive history. The winery was established by French champagne house Moët & Chandon in 1986 and is dedicated to the production of méthode traditionnelle sparkling wine and premium quality, cool-climate still Victorian wines.

Visitors are able to self-guide around the Domaine Chandon tour route daily, however if you come in winter like we did, you will miss out on the free guided tours. Domaine Chandon also provides excellent wine tasting facilities which are run daily. The tasting which costs $5 per person (and refundable against any items purchased) is a great way to taste a selection of sparkling and still wines, with an expert showcasing each of the elements that make each one unique. 

We tasted six wines on the day we visited, each different in their own way and two in particular stood out for me. The Chandon Vintage Brut 2010 is Chandon's flagship sparkling wine made from the classic champagne grape varieties. Extended yeast ageing produces a deliciously soft, fresh and creamy wine which has aromas of citrus and the staff that day told us to look out for tastes of roasted almonds and biscotti, both of which were lost on me if I am being honest. The Vintage Brut is full of fruity flavours and you really do get a taste of stone fruit and apple when you sip it slowly. 

The second and my personal favourite, the Chandon Riche NV was luscious and enticing with a refreshingly clean finish. It was deliciously sweet with aromas of guava and ripe tropical fruits, and this for me would be perfect for after dinner cheese plates or with a platter of fresh fruit. 

The Greenpoint Brasserie located next to the tasting bar offers a seasonal menu of platters, small tapas style dishes and main meals. Indoor and outdoor dining areas are available with 270 degree views of the Yarra Valley, however with the rainy weather we decided to keep warm inside with a delicious charcuterie board full of various meats, relishes and crispy bread wafers, as well as a board of fresh bread and dips. It was perfect after the wine tasting and set us all up for the trip to the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery afterwards.

A trip to Domaine Chandon is essential for anyone visiting Melbourne and an afternoon that my parents really enjoyed. With a beautiful outdoor eating area perfect for the summer months, I hope to visit this beautiful place again and take full advantage of those amazing views.

Domaine Chandon
727 Maroondah Highway,
Coldstream VIC 3770
Telephone: 03 9738 9200


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