On the edge of Melbourne sits one of Australia’s oldest and finest wine regions – the beautiful and picturesque Yarra Valley. More than 150 years ago, a handful of Melbourne’s first settlers planted vines on the rolling Yarra hills.
And in the years since, the Yarra has proven itself time and again to be capable of creating high-quality wines in a wide range of styles. From fine and delicate pinot noir and chardonnay through to age-worthy cabernet sauvignon, the Yarra Valley really is a true jack of all trades.
And, as Melbourne has grown in size, what were once isolated vineyards are now surrounded by subdivisions – the highly rated Wantirna Estate now sits in rare green space between the suburbs of Glen Waverley and Wantirna South.
The Yarra is truly one of our most diverse wine regions. In its lower, flatter hills traditional ripe Yarra wine styles are found with great generosity of fruit. However, as tastes have changed and spare land in the Yarra’s lower reaches has become more scarce, the vineyards have moved deeper into the hills to higher altitudes and cooler sites.
It is in these chillier sites that many of the Yarra’s new range of exciting producers are now housed – sometimes with small vineyards and tiny production of unique styles.
Linear, reserved and restrained, acid-driven modern Australian chardonnays are a particular regional specialty and, along with perfumed, elegant, cutting-edge pinot noirs, chardonnays define this new wave of interest sweeping through the Yarra, not the first in the area’s 150-year history.
One of the Yarra’s leading producers is De Bortoli, where winemaking is overseen by local legend Steve Webber. Webber shows the unique ability to craft high quality wines at a whole range of price points. For everyday drinking, his Yarra Reserve range, particularly the chardonnay, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon, is hard to beat.
However, Webber is also equally at home with exciting and novel styles – including with some varieties not often seen in the Yarra. Wooded Yarra sauvignon blanc, riesling, gamay and nebbiolo are brilliant examples from these varieties while the Riorret Lusatia Park Pinot Noir and A5 Chardonnay are some of the finest wines made from these grape varieties in Australia, and all sourced and crafted from the rolling hills just outside of Melbourne.