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Nov 4, 2011 07:12 AM

Yarra Valley or Mornington Pennisula?

We have one day to take a winery tour from Melbourne. We will not be renting a car so we will be "forced" to take a tour. We love Shiraz, Pinot Noir and like Sauvignon Blanc. We prefer small boutique wineries that don't get large tour buses. We want a more personal experience. Another smaller consideration might be the scenery. Which area would you all recommended for us? We travel all over touring wineries and live close to the California wine regions.

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    1. Personally, I prefer Mornington to the Yarra for Port Phillip, T'Gallant, Montalto, Crittenden, Paringa, Ten Minutes by Tractor. These aren't the Australian mega producers like Penfolds or Seppelts but they are fairly large wineries.

      Depending on what day and time you go you may struggle with the buses!

      1. I'm an American from same part of the states as you (bay area), and would suggest Mornington over Yarra based on your post. Mornington felt a bit more "sonoma" and Yarra a bit more "napa" if you get my drift on the differences there in scale, commercialism, family/boutique winery approaches. I prefer Sonoma, and preferred Mornington. We did one day for MP with I think 4 or 5 wineries, a great fish and chips lunch looking out on the water, and all at a pretty leisurely pace in one day with a rental care from Melbourne as a base. My absolute favorite from my trip last year was Main Ridge Estate. Beautiful setting, great wines, but expensive ones. I'm also still getting my head around Australian wine regions after just moving recently, but Mornington is more known for Pinots than Yarra would be, and I don't think either is particularly known for Shiraz or SB though you can find some.

        Scenery in both areas is very nice. Mornington has more windy roads glimpses of vistas. Yarra has more wide open pastoral sort of scenes.

        4 Replies
        1. re: selectiveomnivore

          Good to recognize "tours" usually only go to the big places as lots of boutique wineries don't welcome them. If you want interesting places you need a personal tour i.e a chauffeur or to hire a car.

          1. re: selectiveomnivore

            For the record, there is some great Shiraz produced in Mornington. The two that come to mind at Port Phillip and Peringa.

            1. re: selectiveomnivore

              Selectiveomnivore! Thanks, that is just what I wanted to hear. I understand the comparison and it confirms my thoughts about Mornington. We are hiring a car in Tasmania and then again in Cairns. We are hesitant to hire a car in Melbourne as we think driving in and out of a city (even without the other side driving) is difficult. Hiring a car would definitely give us flexibility to go where we want, but we are chicken! It seems very expensive to do a private tour, but that might be worth it. How did you tour the area?

              1. re: zinfanatic

                I should note Yarra is still not as commercial and super touristy as parts of Napa can get, and there were a fair number of Shiraz and Pinots there.

                We hired a car and drove. It was my first time driving in Australia, and I didn't have too much trouble of it, and Melbourne city traffic was fine. Not worse than driving through SF really. Also, Australia has pretty strick "drink driving" laws and I think the limit reaches down to .05 for one category and .08 for another. However, unlike the States you can get pulled over without reason - they have random breath test spots every now and then, so you can get tested without showing signs in your driving. Something to keep in mind if your whole party will be tasting (hello, spit bucket).

                Have fun on your trip. Tassie has some great pinots! I like them lower alochol and Tassie seems to comply more often.

            2. I know this is a bit of an old thread but I had lunch at 10 x Tractor yesterday and it was outstanding.

              10 Replies
              1. re: kersizm

                Interested to know where you end up going? I would have said Mornington mostly based on the fact that I am obsessed with Paradigm Hill's wines!!! Though both areas do (to my mind) some of Australia's best Pinot Noir (the other great area being Tasmania!!!), I have found that most of the shiraz from the area is more Syrah-esque (v. lean, hints of white pepper, maybe even a hint of florals) and therefore atypical compared to our famed Barossa/McLaren Vale "black pepper, punch in the face" shiraz for which we are better known, simply because of the different in climate. Of course being a red wine slut I love both kinds! But the cooler-weather shiraz probably won't be as expected, I think is what I'm trying to say.

                1. re: verysimple

                  We are going to Mornington. We are going on a small tour since we do not want to drive and drink. Because of that we most likely will not be able to choose where we want to go- too bad. I will keep your recommendation in mind. We have the tour on March 14. My favorite grapes are also Pinot and Syrah. We live in California. Thanks

                  1. re: zinfanatic

                    The Pinot in Mornington is excellent. Their cold climate chardonnay is also astonishing, much much better in my mind (to use the Napa comparison made in this thread) than those overoaked, overblown monsters from Napa. Even Sonoma can be a bit much on the oak front.

                    You say you like Syrah (Shiraz) and Sauvignon Blanc. You will find very little sauvignon in Mornington Peninsula (at Yabby Lake winery, they do a decent SB though). You will also find little Syrah. They do Syrah well in Mornington Peninsula (cold climate Syrah of course, nothing like those high alcohol fruit bombs from the Barossa) but there is not much of it because the Pinot Noir and chardonnay sell so much better. They also do some great Pinot Gris - try in particular Moorooduc and Yabby Lake for PG.

                    1. re: Asomaniac

                      Thanks for your knowledgable comments. I look forward to some Chards that are NOT over oaked! I dislike those so much that I have veered away from Chard in general. I did not expect to find many SB or Shiraz in the cool climate. Can you recommend any particular Pinots to look for either in Tasmania or the Mornington Pennisula?

                        1. re: zinfanatic

                          From Tasmania I love, love, love, the Glaetzer-Dixon Reveur PN (the only vintage i have tasted is 2008, which i think might still be the current release). However it is more of a "new school" pinot, ie less horse/forest floor going on than some of the more traditional Burgundian styles. Domaine A is also quite well-renowned for their signature pinot, I find it a little too menthol-y, but of course it depends what you prefer. For Mornington I like Hurley Vineyard's Garamond PN. And of course Paradigm Hill - the L'ami Sage is a hint more masculine than the Les Cinq but both are beautiful.

                          1. re: zinfanatic

                            Freycinet, Stefano Lubiana

                            And almost Mornington Peninsula, Bass Phillip, probably the best pinot produced in Australia

                            1. re: mr_gimlet

                              Haha, you won't be finding Bass Phillip at any old bottle shop, but I agree that it is probably the best in Oz. In saying that Tasmanian pinots are generally better than anywhere else in Australia. I hate Sav blanc, so I can't really comment. I rate Yarra Valley shiraz higher than Mornington, but then again that is probably because there are more producers. I do have many fine memories of Seville Estate shiraz from the valley.. I think overall the Yarra Valley produces better wines, but the best examples don't have a cellar door. I like the Valley better for its scenery, but I am more of a mountain sort of guy than a beach lover. Oh and over oaked chards have pretty much disappeared from the cooler climate wine makers, although I have noticed a disturbing trend in recent years back to that 90's style of oaky monsters in some producers.

                              1. re: camdira

                                I asked the original question on this link. This might be of interest to all that love wine and might be traveling to Australia or native Aussies! There is an article in the Feb 17 edition of Financial Times about Tasmanian wines. I think this link to Janis Robinson website might be the same article. We are getting off base with Tasmania, but we are going there too nest week!

                            2. re: zinfanatic

                              Pinot in Mornington: Paringa Estate and Stonier. Unbelievable stuff. Stonier do various single vineyard Pinots which are very different from one another, very inetresting. I also like Pinots from the other two wineries I mentioned, Moorooduc and Yabby Lake.