Friday, October 28, 2016

Wine Country

Mornington peninsula is known for its boutique wineries. I called around the wine tour companies listed on the visit Mornington website. The first had either gone out of business, or put the wrong phone number up. The second one rang, but didn’t answer. I left a message. He called back to tell me he only operated at weekends “because he worked during the week”.

I finally managed to find an operator who could take us out to the wineries. His name was Paul, and his company Amour Of The Grape would take us on a tour, including lunch. Woohoo!

Paul picked us up at 10:25, and we then drove to Rye to collect another couple – French Canadians Simon and Annick, currently working in Melbourne. That constituted the whole of our tour party, and we set off to the first winery, The Cups Estate. This is right next door to the Peninsula Hot Springs that we visited yesterday. We tasted pinot gris, chardonnay, pinot noir and shiraz. The area is now mostly known for pinot noir and chardonnay, although all the vineyards we visited were all offering at least one wine that the others weren’t doing. At Cups this was the sparkling shiraz, and moscato.

Next stop was a bit of a drive to Montalto, the largest single estate on the peninsula. We tasted similar wines there. They also have an olive grove and produce oils – both EV and flavoured.

Third up was Tuck’s Ridge, where we were entertained by Ash, their cellar door manager and assistant winemaker. He is a minefield of information, and talked long and hard about the wines, while also being sidetracked onto pretty well any subject under the sun. Here we tasted an award-winning pinot noir as well as pinot gris, chardonnay and shiraz. We stopped here for lunch, which was a confit duck with kale and mashed potato, and either a starter or dessert, and a glass of wine. I had the shiraz.

After lunch, we went to an unusual tasting room at Polperro. Named after the Cornwall town, their tasting room is a small library-like room lined with wine bottles. In here we tasted the usual suspects, and chatted to the cellar door manager, who was a Peninsula girl going back several generations – she explained how her great-great-grandfather had built some of the buildings we were looking at in the national park yesterday.

Final stop was at what is now the largest vineyard in Mornington, Port Philip Estate. They’ve built a new cellar door, venue, restaurant and apartment complex, which makes a slight difference to the shed where I’d tasted wine last time I was here – 1998 I think. I asked if they remembered me but, no, they didn’t. As we were looking out over the vineyard a movement caught my eye – it was a wedge-tailed eagle, apparently a resident of the area.

We tasted a good variety of wines, including some very good pinot noir. Leoni the manager asked how it compared to New Zealand pinots which put me on the spot somewhat! I Said that I’d need to taste them side by side to compare…phew! Got out of that one!

On our way back to the hotel we stopped at Arthur’s Seat, the highest point on the peninsula. They’re building a new gondola there to replace the ageing chair lift that’s been there for donkey’s years.

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