This week at Goedhuis we were delighted to welcome Ben Portet of the Dominique Portet Winery, Yarra Valley. He presented some very exciting wines and took the time to explain more about the Yarra Valley and the production processes adopted at his winery.
Some surprising facts about the region include the relatively high labour costs of the region (17 AUS Dollars/ hour), despite this, all of wines we tasted were from handpicked grapes. Ben explained that he has tested and implemented new wine making methods, such as the ‘fully automated sorting machine’ to achieve excellent results,
‘We are seeking clarity and freshness in our wines, handpicking ensures grapes come in to the cellar at optimal quality. Our specially designed automated sorting machine removes absolutely all of the stems and leaves, we seek to extract only the beautiful qualities of the grape.”
Ben represents the 10th generation of Portet vignerons dating back to 1698 when Jean Portet first made wine in Cognac. Today, Ben is keen to carry on this extraordinary heritage to achieve classic style wines, representative of their terroir and long standing wine making savoir faire of the Portet family.
Judging by the ‘hmmm’ and the ‘I love this’ exclamations in the tasting room, I think I speak for us all when I say that the Dominique Portet Brut Rosé NV was rather well received. With a classic blend of 50% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Meunier, made in the traditional method, this Yarra Valley sparkling is a gem. Beautiful strawberry-stained colour with a delicate mouse, was described by David Robers MW as containing lovely raspberry fruit. It left a lingering taste of berries on the palate. This is without a doubt a crowd pleaser (and wine traders are not always an easy crowd to please).
We went on to try the reds with equal zeal. The wines have a classic quality with a delicate ‘sweetness of fruit’ as David Roberts MW so aptly put it. He also described the wines as having, ‘volume and freshness of style’, which I think summarises the Dominique Portet wines beautifully.
Here are my tasting notes of the reds we tried on the day:
2011 Fontaine Shiraz/Cabernet/Merlot
Bright, with a cool red hue. Blackberries and spice on the nose. The Cabernet Sauvignon brings structure without dominating the wine, there is balance of fruit and savoury notes, with supple tannins and a spicy note on the finish.
2012 Dominique Portet Cabernet Sauvignon, Yarra Valley
Intensely deep red in the glass, purple on the ridge, reminiscent of Bordeaux en-Primeur sampled straight from the barrel. The nose reveals the wine’s origins and flatters them with a bouquet of dried mint leaves, crème de cassis and black pepper. On the palate the tannin are soft, showing ripeness of fruit and finishing quite fresh.
2010 Dominique Portet Cabernet Sauvignon, Yarra Valley
This was a mild vintage in the Yarra Valley, the wine is retrained and elegant as a result. On the nose there is a wealth of flavours, ranging from dried fruit to more evolved characters, cigar box and Medjool dates. Quite fresh at the start, opening out to reveal spice and ripe, round tannins.
2012 Heathcote Shiraz
An excellent, cool red colour, with ridges that are almost violet. Berry fruit and pepper on the nose, with a mineral expression on the palate, which Ben explained comes from the graphite terroir of the Pyrenees region. The wine shows very delicate, velvety tannins which come forward almost entirely at the finish. It will be a treat to try this again as it ages.
2010 Heathcote Shiraz
Brilliant aspect, shimmering in the glass with an evolved red hue. Dried figs and cigar box on the nose. Great complexity on the palate, blueberry fruit with milk chocolate and a coffee note. Very long on the finish.
2006 Dominique Portet “Andre” Shiraz/Cabernet
Appears youthful in the glass but beautifully evolved on the nose, toasty with honey and red berry fruit. On the palate the style is linear, with a backbone of acidity throughout and taught tannins, finishing with a cherry note. A good example how well these wines are ageing.