Sunday, 6 November 2011


The Yarra Valley is less than hour’s drive to the northeast of the Melbourne CBD and is the place where Victorian winegrowing started in the mid-19th century. As one goes past the outer suburbs of Melbourne, one encounters rolling hills densely planted with vines, beautiful verdant valleys and distant blue mountain range backdrops. There are lush pastures, beautiful forests and rivers with villages surrounded by bushland like Marysville, Healesville, Yarra Glen and Warburton.

There are many vineyards to visit, ranging from the small family concerns that produce boutique wine ranges in small quantities, to the larger concerns that have many hectares of vines and produce wine by the megalitre each season. There are hundred-year-old vineyards and wineries as well as the new arrivals that have just planted out their vines. One may sample the wines, tour some of the winemaking facilities, and there is no dearth of places to linger over a meal as one discovers the regional fresh produce, well-prepared food that is matched to the local wines in the vineyard restaurants. One may also choose to stay a night or two in a chic boutique B&B, a self-contained cottage, a winery retreat or even a five-star luxury hotel/resort.

We recently visited the Domaine Chandon winery near Yarra Glen.

Domaine Chandon was established by French champagne house Moët & Chandon in 1986 and is dedicated to the production of méthode traditionnelle sparkling wine and premium quality, cool-climate still wines. Chandon winery is located at 727 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream, Victoria.
In the 1960s, Moët & Chandon began exploring the potential for producing world class sparkling wines outside France. Having established successful Chandon Estates in Argentina, Brazil and California, they saw the opportunity to produce a premium quality sparkling wine in Australia. During the mid-eighties, a group of Australian wine experts were engaged to find an ideal site for growing traditional cool climate champagne grape varieties. Nestling in the Yarra Valley, they found an old dairy farm named ‘Green Point’ with the perfect combination of cool climate and great soil. Since 1986 this has been the site of Domaine Chandon. The site around the old farm buildings has retained some of the original garden plantings and the winery has taken care to maintain the garden. This beautifully fragrant rose bush in one of many on the grounds.
The old homestead, beautifully renovated, is now an administrative building.
These Iceland poppies (Papaver nudicaule) are planted every year in front of the homestead, within the star-shaped flower bed that mirrors the logo of Domaine Chandon. It is no accident the cultivar of the poppies growing here is called "Champagne Bubbles'!
Another of the original farm buildings, restored and given a new lease of life.
It is very pleasant to walk around the grounds and observe the wide variety of plants grown there. As well as many flowers, there are herbs and many fine trees.
The new buildings behind the old homestead serve the purpose of the winery's operations, with receiving halls for the grapes, wine presses, rooms for the business of wine-making - processing and fermenting equipment, barrels for ageing, facilities for bottling and packaging, as well as the capacious cellar where the wine is stored to mature. This is a simple but effective fountain found in the newer part of the winery.
This wonderful loggia leads from the restaurant/tasting room to the wine-making part of the facilities towards the back. The views of the garden on the left are magnificent.
And this of course is what it's all about! The Domaine Chandon sparkling wine, on par with some of the best champagnes of France.
The giant model of a champagne cork is quite effective in the foyer of the wine-making area, where free tours depart so that visitors can be familiarised with the traditional and involved process of the making of sparkling wines.
The wine-making area, showing some of the modern equipment used in making the wines.
The oak barrels in which the wine matures and acquires some of its flavour and aroma.
The cellar where wine ferments and matures. The bottles have to be turned by hand in the bottle in the second fermentation that characterises traditional sparkling wine production.
A beautiful "flowering maple" (Abutilon spp - Lemon Queen) growing in the grounds of Domaine Chandon.
The Greenpoint Tasting Bar and associated Brasserie on the right.
At the Greenpoint Brasserie Tasting Bar guests can sample a range of our still and sparkling wines. Domaine Chandon wines are available by the glass from $8 or by the bottle from $22.00. The Greenpoint Brasserie Tasting Bar is open from 10.30am to 4.30pm daily except for Christmas Day.
The staff are helpful and friendly and can provide advice about the range of wines available for tasting and purchase.
This was a delightful lunch with the cheese platter and the smoked salmon terrine. We opted for the tasting rack of four different types of sparkling wines, with Chandon Brut, Chandon Brut Rosé, Chandon Sparkling Pinot Noir and Chandon Cuvée Riche. A delightful experience, especially so when one had the sweeping views across the valley to enjoy while eating and drinking.
All Chandon sparkling wines are created using the centuries-old ‘méthode traditionnelle’, developed in the Champagne region of France. After the grapes are pressed, the juice undergoes two separate fermentations, the second taking place in individual bottles producing the hundreds of fine bubbles of great sparkling wine, which make it such a pleasure to drink.
Some of the original farm trees that have been retained are quite magnificent.
This regal, towering oak tree is amazing and provides shade during the summer.
The old homestead in the distance, to the right, and more of the oak trees and lawn on the grounds of Domaine Chandon.
The oak trees have branches covered with many different types of lichen.
A view of the vineyard. Méthode traditionnelle wines are made exclusively from chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier grape varieties, each imparting classic varietal flavours, elegance and finesse.
The peaks of the Yarra Ranges provide a wonderful backdrop to the vineyards.
Wine tasting at Domaine Chandon.
The staff are friendly, helpful and knowledgeable.
The shop always has several specials that are available for cellar door sales, as well as the full range of vintage and non-vintage wines produced at Domaine Chandon.
Another delightful view of the vineyard.
The Yarra Valley is internationally recognised as one of Australia's leading wine producing regions. More information about wineries there can be obtained at this site.