So many wines, so little time on trip

Our interest was tweaked a few weeks ago by an ad in the newspaper for the King Tutankhamun exhibition at the Melbourne Museum.

A call to the travel agent and we were off to Australia for a long weekend. And, the fact that there are a couple of fantastic wine regions within an hour or so of Melbourne had absolutely nothing to do with deciding to go.

We only had a few days so we dedicated one day to wine, renting a car for the day and heading to the Mornington Peninsula where there are about 200 wineries and 50 cellar door outlets you can visit.

With just one day we had a problem – so many wines to taste and so little time. The people at the Mornington township i-Site visitor centre helped us plan a day that took in some great wines and ensured we were well fed.

By the time we travelled from Melbourne, we had time for lunch and to visit three or four wineries. We decided to have lunch at Port Phillip Estate where they have a fantastic restaurant and some excellent wines too.

With a climate similar to Nelson, the wines produced there include chardonnay, pinot gris, sauvignon blanc, arneis and pinot noir, so it was interesting to compare their wines with ours.

At Port Phillip Estate we really enjoyed their chardonnays, in particular the Kooyong Estate 2008, A$38 (NZ$49), and the Single Vineyard 2008 Faultline Chardonnay, A$60.

From the selection of pinot noirs available my favourite, and the most expensive at A$65, was their Single Vineyard Haven 2008 Pinot Noir. While this is still a young wine it is packed with rich, meaty, savoury berryfruit flavours with a hit of liquorice in the finish. The restaurant at Port Phillip Estate is a fine dining experience with food fit for a top restaurant in any city and service that was faultless.

On a much smaller scale Main Ridge Estate was established in 1975 by Rosalie and Nat White and every drop of juice that finds its way into a bottle there comes from their own small vineyard.

Producing predominantly chardonnay and pinot noir, with some pinot meunier and merlot completing the range and a dedication to quality, the wines are very good. Top of my list was the 2009 Half Acre Pinot Noir (A$65), a wine packed with flavour concentration and character. This is boutique wine making of a very high standard.

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I have been drinking

Kina Beach 2010 Sauvignon Blanc (about $16) With vibrant tropical fruit aromas and a smooth-textured mouthfeel, this is a luscious and spicy wine packed with passionfruit and stonefruit flavours and juicy fresh acidity in the finish; almost too easy to drink.

Blackenbrook Vineyard Reserve Pinot Noir 2009 ($39) Another five-star wine from a five-star producer. This is still a very young wine with appealing concentrated spiced red/black cherry flavours, a touch of gaminess and silky tannins. Another beauty from the talented Daniel Schwarzenbach.