I have always associated vineyards with the rolling hills of Tuscany or Alsace, France and was totally unaware upon moving to Victoria of the heavenly wineries on my doorstep that rival the best in the world.
I had noticed Australian wine back home in the UK, but never tried it myself. As a rule I leaned towards the European bottles through familiarity and oh I was so wrong. Australian wine is a strong contender.
My steep wine learning curve started with a chance visit to Tucks Ridge Winery. Joel’s family were over for a visit from home and we booked a chalet in the tiny village of Shoreham on the Mornington Peninsula. Mornington is to the East of Melbourne at the very tip of the bay, about an hour and a half from the main city. It is home to over 67 wineries and I have made it my aim to visit them all!
The family and I were exhausted after a long day of walking in the Melbourne summer sun when a light bulb moment was had and it was decided we were to find a winery. We googled the ‘best wineries in the region’ and the consensus was Tucks Ridge for it’s incredible views and specialist wines. We made our way there and strolled into ‘The Cellar Door’ which is the wine tasting arena.
Tucks Ridge is a small boutique winery that is one of the oldest in the region and is known for producing its ‘cool climate’ wines. This little slice of heaven has taken its place as one of my favourite places to hang out in Victoria.
I don’t know if I’m the only person on earth to have never been wine tasting or if I am just ridiculously uncivilised, but it it so much fun!
We were introduced to our wine expert for the session and each handed a wine glass. We slowly sipped our way down the list, tasting each the of eight wines on offer. Despite each tasting only having a splash of wine in the glass, by wine eight all of us were rosey cheeked and had wine-glint in our eyes. We were advised that this particular winery specialises in whites over reds, which suited me perfectly, but they had a couple of reds for us to try.
The wine tasting lasted about 20 minutes in total and was completely FREE (if you left with a bottle at the end, which goes without saying).
The connoisseurs were able to tell us about each wine in depth, which grape berries were used, what flavours they were distilled with and how long they had been in the barrel. They advised us which meals to eat with a particular wine and how to properly make the most of your chosen bottle. Far too kind!
I fell in love with one wine in particular that I had not heard of before (I know how ridiculous?!) called Savagnin. Pronounced ‘Sah Vah Nyah’. This dry white is similar to a Sauvignan Blanc with plenty of acidity, lemon and spice and is perfect with cheese, prawns, chilli and garlic, so basically right up my street.
When I have a wine list thrust under my nose I usually blindly pick the Sav or the Pinot Grigio. I am not an expert but it’s a step up from panic ordering the Chardonnay. If either of the former two wines are your go-to you will love Savagnin, even if the name is a little difficult to pronounce and sounds a bit like you are chewing your tongue.
After the wine tasting we plonked ourselves outside in the courtyard and admired the view. It was simply beautiful and the photos don’t do it any justice at all.
Tucks Ridge was so impressive on our first visit that we took my grandparents in February (When they visited from the UK). Being partial to the odd glass/bottle of wine themselves we knew it would be perfect for them to experience and needless to say they loved it. We all got a little tipsy on the local vino and complimented it with some delicious, homemade Tucks Ridge cheese.
If you ever find yourself in Victoria, Australia make it a must to visit the wine regions. Melbourne is surrounded by them, Mornington Peninsula, The Yarra Valley, Macedon Ranges, Sunbury Wine Region and Geelong. My heart belongs to Mornington but I can try the others for educational purposes, right?