Winery review: Punt Road Wines – Yarra Valley, Victoria

February 4, 2012

Punt Road cellar door entry

We were on St Hubert’s Road on our way to Healesville when we passed Punt Road Winery and decided on the spot to drop in. Our main motivation was to buy some of the famous pear cider for Michael, my brother-in-law.

The back entrance to the tasting room

In all the many years we have come to the Yarra Valley, we had never made it to this well known winery. The estate with about 75 ha under vines (two vineyards, one planted in 1987 and the other in 2001) is owned and operated by the Napoleone family.

The senior wine-maker is Kate Goodman, one of the so called “young guns” of the Australian wine industry and much sought after judge for wine competitions.

The Punt Road vineyards are planted with the white varieties Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Viognier and the reds Pinot Noir, Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc.

The cider stacks

From the outside we already spotted the boxes with the Napoleone Co. apple and pear cider piled up in a neat stack.

My heart jumped. Here it was, the golden liquid which stirs up so much emotions, and is considered one of the best ciders in the valley. Quality has its price, so a box of the stuff does not come cheap.

Having been raised in Trier at the Mosel river, I am very familiar with cider, which is called “Viez” in the local dialect. “Viez” is a mixture of fermented apples and pear juice coming from a very small kind of apples/pears (they are in-edible and very very sour/acidic).

The trees are grown along the rural roads. All the peasant in the region used to make their own cider, as a very refreshing drink for home consumption.

The garden

The premises are very lovely with wide open spaces, tables and chairs, picnic facilities and an area prepared for boule playing (pétanque).

The back porch

We had not time for a proper tasting. The man behind the counter was not very welcoming either. So we decided to try some of their bubbly and the Pinot Gris which we (my wife Margit and I) both liked.

I am not a fan of Pinot Gris but this one was just the right stuff for a hot summers day. We bought a bottle of each. Later we also tasted the Pinot Noir, but the 2010 vintage did not catch our fancy.

The two bottles we acquired at Punt Road Winery

Golden liquid: Punt Road Pinot Gris

I guess we will have to come back for a proper tasting. Punt Road is a good place to visit in the Yarra Valley.

Address:
Punt Road Wines
10 St Huberts Road – Coldstream
Victoria, Australia 3770
Tel.: +61 3 9739 0666
Fax: + 61 3 9739 0633
wine@puntroadwines.com.au
www.puntroadwines.com.au

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Pinot Noir from the Yarra Valley with Peking Duck

October 8, 2011

The beautiful “off-red” colour of a Pinot Noir

Well, I gave it almost away in the title of this blog entry.
Yes, it is a Pint Noir and yes, it comes from the Yarra Valley in Victoria.

But please answer me:

Mirror mirror on the wall which is my favourite wine of them all? ,

asks the wicked queen alias “the critical consumer of fine wines”?

Well, the answer is just below; on my wine cabinet so to speak.

Can you identify the producer?

I guess now you can.

2009 Bloody Hill Mayer Vineyard Pinot Noir

And yes, you are right, this is an awesome wine from the Yarra Valley, the eastern part of which has a truly cold climate. Timo Mayer is a great wine-maker. In his boutique vineyard near Healesville he produces outstanding fruit. His philosophy of minimum interference in wine-making does the rest and out of this comes a wonderful product of a vintners craftsmanship.

The bottle has DIAM cork, the real thing

It is just a shame that we cannot get this wine here in Bangkok.

In the UK, Ireland and in Germany you can order it.

By the way, right now Timo is on a sales tour in Europe. On September 28th he was special guest at the K&U Weinhalle, a wine merchant in Nuernberg. There is a nice story about Timo written by Martin Koesler.

Our Sunday lunch table with the Peking duck

PS: We made the Peking Duck ourselves. It was a beautiful feast on a warm tropical Sunday. Timo’s Pinot Noir is an ideal wine also with Asian food. The proof is in the eating and drinking. Trust me I know what I am talking about.

Which distributor in Asia is interested? Now is the time….


Restaurant review: The Grand Hotel in Healesville

February 26, 2011

The Grand Hotel in a painting in the hotel’s dining room

Lunching in the countryside is a wonderful thing. The picturesque country town of Healesville (population about 7,000 souls) is an ideal destination when holidaying in Victoria. Since my brother-in-law Michael and his wife Helen live there, we often loiter in its streets and seek out the hip and not so hip places of food and wine worship.

A nice place to have a rustic country lunch is the Grand Hotel, right in the middle of the town’s main street. The dining room is a quiet and comfortable place. There is also a bar to the left of the entrance. The staff is very friendly and the service is good.

The menu has a wide selection of dishes, even a Thai style beef salad. We went for the rural, home made type, sausages with potato mash and gravy and fish and chips. Others of our party had lamb chops or the roast of the day.

Sausages

Fish and chips

There was a wide selection of local and not so local wines. We went for a wine from a more distant place, Western Australia. The Valley of the Giants was on special promotion, so why not taste it.

We selected the ‘2010 Valley of the Giants crisp dry white’. Valley of the Giants is a wine-making venture sourcing its grapes from growers in Western Australia. Nothing special so to say, not a boutique vineyard or so, just some people who make “technically clean” wine.

The front label

But the wine matched the occasion. It was a rather hot summers day and a crisp white wine was just the right choice with our meals.

The back label

The Valley of the Giants is a wilderness region in Western Australia attracting many tourists who love nature. In the village of Denmark an ancient forest is to be found of giant tingle trees. One can go on a ‘tree-top-walk’, about 40 meters off the ground.

A happy diner

My suggestion: if you visit Healesville check out the many beautiful places including the wildlife sanctuary and after that have lunch at the Grand Hotel. It’s worth it.

Address:
The Grand Hotel
270 Maroonday Hwy,
Healesville VIC 3777
Tel.: =61-3-5962 4003


Summer wine: Rosé from Nolan Vineyard, Yarra Valley

January 27, 2011

2009 Nolan Pinot Rosé

Rosé is always a nice wine for the hot summers days. We had the chance to taste the ‘2009 Pinot Rosé‘ from Nolan Vineyard, near Badger Creek in Healesville, Yarra Valley.

John and Myrtle Nolan are passionate about their wines. With 2 ha under vines Nolan Vineyard is a so called boutique vineyard. The site at the bottom of the valley is very cold. The vineyard is non-irrigated.

Back label

The wine has a salamon-pink colour. It is a luscious wine with strawberry aromas and a hint of lemon and honey. It is a truly refreshing drink, enjoyed with or withour food.

Address:
Nolan Vineyard
217 Badger Creek Rd,
Healesville VIC 3777
Tel.: +61-3-5962 3435


Autumn in Victoria

April 27, 2010

Near Mt. St. Leonard, Toolangi road to Healesville

Most of the following pictures I took through the car window while driving from Glenburn to Healesville via Meyers Creek Road. Gum trees do not turn yellow in autumn as desidious trees do. But the combination in many gardens and park lands make a great composition of colours.

Gum treas near Castella

Mountain Ash trees in Toolangi

Mt. St Leonard from Healesville – peak to the left

Two Kukkaburra birds waiting for their feed at Michael’s home

I found the following short video clip on the internet. Please visit the place, it’s magic.


A Sunday at Bloody Hill

September 21, 2009

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Great Yarra Valley views from the Mayer Vineyard (left to the dam)

On a beautiful Sunday in early August, we were in for a surprise visit to the Mayer’s. We bought some “nibblies” (Australian for cold meats, sausages, cheeses, condiments, etc.) and some wine in Healesville and drove up the steep drive to Bloody Hill on top of which their beautiful house (rammed earth) is situated. Alas, they were in and happy to welcome their unannounced intruders.

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The vineyard at the crest of the hill is very neat

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Some of the wines on “offer” (f.l.t.r.: a Silvaner from Franconia, Dr. Buerklin-Wolf, a Riesling from the Pfalz and a Dr. Mayer Pinot Noir from the Yarra Valley)

We came at the right time. A shipment of Riesling wine (about 60 cases) which Timo had made on a visit to Germany last year had just arrived and was ready for tasting. Moreover, as a member of the South Pack, Timo was in the preparation of a wine tasting tour to three Australian cities (Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane). The South Pack is a group of eight innovative young Australian wine-makers who have raised the bar for the selling of premium and super-premium wines in sluggish markets.

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The German Brotzeit

A quick “Brotzeit” was thrown up and the wine tasting could start. We did not drink in any kind of order but rather according to gusto and enthusiasm. First cap of the rank was the German Riesling Timo had made, Dr. Mayer Riesling of which I have no picture which speaks for itself. This was not a time for tasting notes but for joy and nourishment of body and soul, for Australian and Swabian story telling and song.

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Bloody Hill Pinot Noir

Timo is a native of a small hamlet, called “Grossheppach” (about 4,500 inhabitants), today part of the small town called Weinstadt (translated: wine city) in the Rems valley (the Rems is a small river), Wuerttemberg, about 15 km east of Stuttgart. As everything in Germany, Grossheppach has a long history.

Grossheppach

Coat of arms of Grossheppach showing the river Rems and four grapes on a vine

Furthermore, the village has a long tradition of vine cultivation and wine making. Timo comes from a family of small vintners (and farmers).

In 1279 a historical deed is the earliest written testament of the flourishing wine production in Grossheppach. Magister Rudolf, a local doctor, had bequeathed his house in Esslingen and three vineyards in Grossheppach to the Abbey of Bebenhausen which was witnessed by knight ‘Fridericus miles de Heggebach’.

Timo showed as a historical chronicle of Grossheppach with black and white photos which also depicted his family in the 18th and 19th century. Here we are, thousands of kilometres away from the old land and talking grape production, wine traditions and wine styles. To cut a long story short, Timo had made his first ever Riesling wine in Grossheppach and shipped it for sale to Australia.

It was not the time for tasting notes, I guess. We opened one bottle after the next. First the Riesling wines, then Chardonnay and finally Pinot Noir and Shiraz, all Mayer Vineyard wines and Timo Mayer creations.

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Mayer and Dr. Mayer Pinot Noir and a traditional German wine label with the coat of arms of Grossheppach

The Mayer Vineyard is only a small operation (2.5 ha under vines). All wines are hand crafted and from a single vineyard. Timo believes that wine is made in the vineyard, therefore there is minimal interference. The reds are unfined and unfiltered. Timo makes wines with a difference, with great character and individuality. As he says “he wants to bring back the funk”, and funky these drops are. James Halliday, “the wine pope of Australia”, has awarded his highest rating, a 5 stars, to the Mayer Vineyard.

The Dr. Mayer Pinot Noir is one of the newest creations from the masters hands; a great wine, elegant, whole bunch fermented if I am not mistaken. Timo assumed that all of it would be sold during the South Pack promotion tour together with the Riesling. By now there should be nothing left, I guess.

Needless to say that the day extended to the night and ended with a pasta feast for 9 hungry mouths.

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The pasta sauce in the making

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The magician at work, this time in the kitchen and not in the wine cellar

We had a great time. The children played all afternoon. We walked the vineyard and Timo showed me where he shot a deer. Then we went to get some of that venison for us to take home. The “Brotzeit” led to dinner and then it was time to drive home to our own vineyard in Glenburn. Good news is that Timo is planning to make Riesling again in 2009 and maybe the following years.

For sales and enquiries contact:
timomayer@bigpond.com.au

The following wines are for sale:
Bloody Hill Chardonnay
Bloody Hill Pinot Noir
Big Betty Shiraz
Mayer Close Planted Pinot Noir (also as the Dr. Mayer Pinot Noir)


Wine shopping in Healesville, Yarra Valley

August 16, 2009

Barrique

For a long time I wanted to write about my wine shopping experience in Healesville, a charming tourist town in the Yarra Valley, about an hour’s drive from Melbourne. One can find a jewel of a wine store in this rural retreat, called Barrique. I took the photo above Christmas last year.

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This is the old shop front

When visiting Healesville again in July 2009, I was shocked to not see the above signpost in the old place. I was afraid that the global financial crises and the bush fires might have let to the closure of this little wine shop. Alas, it had only moved a block further along the main street into the city centre. I was so happy when I found it again.

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The “new” Barrique, a block further up the main street

I could not resist the temptation. Previously, I had bought German wines from this shop. I dashed in to see what was on offer. The wines are beautifully displayed. There was so much out there. I could not stop browsing through the shelves.

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The inside of Barrique

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So many bottles

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Wines from all over the world

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The “German box” with selected Riesling wines from various German wine regions

The box above announces some of the best German Riesling producers from Mosel, and Nahe. I just love Riesling wines. In the end I picked up four bottles, one from the Pfalz, three from the Mosel. I will not tell you what they were today. More about the tastings of these wines later. Stay tuned to the Man from Mosel River.
Cheers