Wine tasting at Port Philip Estate


The second winery on our trip down to Mornington Peninsula outside Melbourne was Port Philip estate. The cellar door is a rather spectacular affair, with a curving wall hiding the winery from casual view, whereupon stepping through the solid wood door the wide vista of Port Philip bay unrolls itself before you. An truly lovely office from which to work, especially on a sunny clear day such as when we visited.

We worked our way through their wine list, even letting our hostess convince us to try the chardonnay. Yes it was chardonnay which is not our favourite grape, however she made up to us by offering us a taste of one of their single vineyard Pinot’s, the 2011 ‘Meres’, It was a lovely Pinot, light on the tongue and went down well. Alas it was totally outclassed when she presented us with a taste of the Mere’s sibling ‘Ferrous’. Again 2011 vintage but otherwise completely different, a deep rich Pinot Noir that had you reaching for the bottle while oohing and aahing.


Highlights included:

  • 2013 Port Philip Estate Sauvignon Blanc, $24, silky smooth. 8/10
  • 2012 Kooyong Estate Pinot Noir, $48 big pinot, rich flavour and will appear on the Friday Night Pinot list. 8/10
  • 2011 Kooyong Estate Single Vineyard “Ferrous” Pinot Noir, $75,  a magnificent Pinot that deserves its high price. 9/10

DSC_8100Hiding out the back was a 2010 Meres Pinot Noir, described by our host as ‘Sex on Toast. I’m not entirely sure what that means however it sounded delicious. If anyone tries it please let us know!

And for dinner, local cheeses, pate’s and the most awesome ciabata from the red hill epicurean, with a dash of wine.

Port Philip Estate Winery website

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Wine tasting at Montalto


Montalto Restaurant. Image ©Montalto

In late November we decided to take a weekends break from Melbourne down the Mornington Peninsula to the seaside village of Sorrento.
The Mornington Peninsula is a popular wine region with a large number of wineries dotted amongst the hills so as we headed down through Redhill we picked one at random for lunch.

Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove was not one we had previously visited and we were not familiar with their wines. As we had arrived  just before lunch we headed to the cellar door to pick something to go with our meal.


The wine list was replete with reds and whites across a variety of styles with two ranges: ‘Pennon Hill’ and Montalto ‘Estate’ wines. Following the guidance of our trusty tasting lad we started at the whites and wandered on down (up?) through their tasting list. Our scored ranged from 6 to 9 across the range, with the poor Chardonnay grape again failing to impress us while the Estate Riesling and Pinot Noir along with the Pennon Hill Shiraz more than making up for any lack in the Chardonnay.

Highlights included:

  • 2013 Montalto ‘Estate’ Riesling, great value at $25, tart, not too sweet, dry, delicious. 8/10
  • 2012 Montalto ‘Estate’ Pinot Noir, $48 lots of promise, Big Pinot, wine notes suggested cellaring up to 8 years and it will get great with age. 8/10
  • 2012 Pennon Hill Shiraz, $30, soft Shiraz lots of flavour, doesn’t beat you round the tongue like a Barossa Shiraz. 8/10

Then with lunch we had a taste of the Merricks Block single vineyard Pinot Noir. oh yum

  • 2012 ‘Merricks Block’ Single Vineyard Pnot Noir, $65, a delicious Pinot, I’d say more but at that point my wife disappeared with the rest of the glass. 9/10

Both our lunches were delicious, however my Rabbit terrine, which the chefs were preparing on our way in, definitely trumped the scallops as well as matching my glass of Pinot Noir. We had chosen the ‘small plate’ offerings from the menu to leave room for dessert, although the scallops were more an ‘entree’ serve,  but who cares for there was space and energy for a cheese platter.

After lunch a wander down through their vegetable gardens included a chat with their gardener and later a taste of their fresh raspberries. Onwards to the sculpture garden was a relaxing walk to end a lovely afternoon.

montalto garden

Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove
and on twitter

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Winetasting at Yering Station

YSCD On a Tuesday in June I was able to escape into the countryside for the day. My partner and I headed out of Melbourne and into the Yarra Valley for a day of wine tasting, lunch and relaxation. We only had one winery we were visiting, Yering Station, and we were aiming to get there before the crowds and so ensure we had a chance for a good chat with the staff.

As we drove in the morning group of balloonists were just packing up, and dodging the enormous basket we headed into the cellar door. The cellar door is set in the middle of the original old brick winery built circa 1859 and is a tranquil setting for a wine tasting especially as it also serves as an art gallery.

The Yering Station wine list has over 30 wines, red & white, with vintages from 2004 to 2012. Not all of these are on offer for tastings, with the reserve labels being set aside for tasting packages. Nonetheless we roamed far and wide across the list.

Our ratings ranged from 6/10 for some of the ‘Village’ label to 9/10 for the 2007 Inverness Ridge Pinot Noir fresh off the reserve list.

While enjoying the wine we wandered around the gallery admiring the artwork returning to chat with the tasting staff over our next vintage. The staff themselves were were full of knowledge and great to banter with.

Overall a lovely morning well spent, and we are looking forward to the next visit.

Yering Station Winery Website

For the full wine list.

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Cooking Wine and Kaesler Chops.

I received the call as I reached the train station, “We need some wine for the dish I am cooking for dinner!”. Naturally I leapt to the nearest wine shop and grabbed up a $500 bottle of Shiraz, thereby saving the meal and the future of mankind.

Ok that is a smidge over the top, however having heard the chef’s chant that one should never cook with a wine one wouldn’t drink, and that it should be a fine wine I find myself ambivalent. I have cooked with wine I wouldn’t drink straight, Old Hayshed Red, made of haysheds as opposed to in one, when added as the essential ingredient of Coq-au-vin absolutely made the meal. A dinner that needs a rough and ready wine to bring it to its full potential.

Tonights dinner was a conundrum, what wine is required to cook red cabbage? A side dish recipe from Jane Lawsons “Snow Flakes and Schnapps” recipe book to go with Kaesler Chops. A robust wine I felt, so probably not a Merlot or Sangiovese. A Pinot Noir may have been adequate.. however… In the end I chose a Tatachilla Partners Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz. Now as the dish would only require one or two glasses itself, the rest would need to serve as Cooks Wine ( as opposed to cooking wine )

So although I may cook with a wine I wouldn’t necessarily choose to drink, cooks wine does demand something a little better.

Google Books link to Spiced Red Cabbge in Jane Lawsons “Snow Flakes and Schnapps”

Amazon Link to Jane Lawsons “Snow Flakes and Schnapps”

Breakfast at Giant Steps

Giant Steps Cellar DoorAs a birthday treat we headed up to Healesville in Victoria to spend the morning at the cellar door for Giant Steps Winery. The cellar door is a restaurant with its own bakery, with a section set aside for wine tasting. The bakery is hard to resist so we opened with a relaxing coffee and cake before wandering over to peruse the wine selection.
They have two brands , Innocent Bystander, their drink now label, and Giant Steps itself, the supremo label. Between the two labels there is a large list to go through, but the necessity of finding something to go with lunch spurred us on.

The difference between the two labels was noticeable, with the Giant Steps list proving better on average to the Innocent Bystanders (then again sangiovese and I have never gotten along). Having said that the standout of the lot was the Innocent Bystanders Cordon Cut Voignier, a sweetly delicious dessert wine, that disappeared all to quickly.
The Giant Steps single vineyard Pinot Noir’s were also delicious and extraordinary in the amount of difference that could be found given that they were at most 30km’s apart. They will benefit from some cellaring leaving the Innocent Bystander Syrah free to be plundered straight away.

For Lunch?
freshly shucked oysters with seaweed dressing
sashimi of kingfish with white miso sauce
Pizza: italian buffalo mozzarella, san marzano tomato, basil & olive oil


2010 Moscato
2010 pinot gris

Weekend Menu
Giant Steps & Innocent Bystanders Winery

Shiraz and Red Curry

Grant Burge Filsell Shiraz 2007 – Thai Red Curry Chicken

It has been a while, but the cellar was beckoning and we needed something to go with a spicy homemade curry.
Thai Red and Green Curry have become a staple dish, replacing the spag bol when I first moved out of home.

Grant Burge is also a staple member of our Adelaide wineries to visit list. Filsell though was never high on my tasting list, it doesn’t suit my palate when it is young. However the first time I had an aged one I realised what a good bargain it is. It gains character as it ages. Almost as much as my cooking.

Homemade Thai Red Curry.

  • Cooking Oil, I use olive oil, sesame or peanut oil is also good
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • Garlic and ginger to taste ( at least one clove )
  • 1-2 teaspoons Red Curry Paste
  • 250gm chicken
  • Lime juice to taste ( a couple of squirts? )
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 4 Swiss Brown Mushrooms
  • A cup full of cauliflower
  • 200gm chopped baby corn
  • A generous handful of beans
  • Half a red capsicum, chopped
  • Half a green capsicum, chopped
  1. heat olive oil in a wok
  2. saute onions and garlic until the onion is brown
  3. add chicken, curry paste and a squirt of lime
  4. stir chicken until brown
  5. add the coconut milk, mushrooms, cauliflower and corn
  6. simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and watching fluid levels. Add Water if it gets low
  7. add the capsicum and beans
  8. continue to cook until the beans are heated through, but still crisp (5 minutes? )
  9. serve with Rice and a spicy wine

Grant Burge Wines

Sparkling Pinot and Duck Pate

Penley Estate Sparkling Pinot Noir and Duck, Vino Cotto & Star Anise pate.

We spent the entire day gardening, digging up the backyard in preparation for grass laying by the landscape gardener. So a fitting end to the day is  a good Sparkling, Maggie Beer Pate and a King Island Dairy – Surprise Bay Cheddar along with Jatz crackers! Ok the Jatz  are an odd addition but needs must.

Penley Estate Wines
King Island Diary

Surprise Bay Cheddar

Surprise Bay Cheddar

Sparkling Pinot

Cab Sauv and Steak

Summerfield  Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 – Medium rare Rib Eye Steak


Summerfield Wines

Summerfield Wines


Friday Night dinner after a long long week. Medium Rare steak and a well aged Cabernet Sauvignon.

Nothing too fancy, steamed vegetables, oven roasted chips, steak marinated in Worcestershire sauce and cooked on the bbq. A very smooth glass of red, both the steak and the wine aged to perfection

Finished with a glass of muscat and my personal favourite of chocolate ice cream.


Summerfield Winery

Tasting at Two Hands

Two Hands Winery

Two Hands Winery

We were over in Adelaide for the Australia Day Weekend and as always we headed off to the Barossa to try out some wines. On the advice of a friend we ended up at Two hands Winery on Friday afternoon ready for our final tastings of the day.

A large selection of wines were on offer, so while the kids explored the back of the winery we set down to work.
We sampled from the all their ranges: The Flagships, Single Vineyard series, The Garden and the Picture series generally trying their red wines. The only off note of the tasting was the Bad Impersonator, which none of us took a shine to.
We eventually gathered the children and headed home with a small box filled with Gnarly Dudes and Yesterday’s Hero’s.


  • Flagship Range:
    • Ares Shiraz, 8
  • Single Vineyard Series:
    • Barney’s Block Shiraz McLaren Vale, 8 with 15+yrs cellaring
  • The Garden Series:
    • Bella’s Garden Shiraz Barossa Valley, 7 needs age.
    • Harry and Edward’s Garden Shiraz Langhorne Creek, 7.
    • Max’s Garden Shiraz Heathcote, 7
  • The Picture Series:
    • Gnarly Dudes Shiraz Barossa Valley, 8.
    • Brave Faces Shiraz Grenache Mataro Barossa Valley, 8
    • Yesterday’s Hero Grenache Barossa Valley, 8
    • For Love or Money Cane Cut Semillon Barossa Valley, 8 with extra rahs
    • Bad Impersonator Shiraz Barossa Valley, 4.


Sparkling Shiraz and choc-mint ice cream pudding

Peter Lehman 1999 Black Queen Sparkling Shiraz – Choc-mint ice cream pudding

A lovely way to finish Christmas Day, sitting back, watching the sunset while sipping on Sparkling Shiraz.
This vintage has been ageing nicely in our cellar, and the years have done it justice.
The choc-mint pudding was a new treat just for Christmas, straight from the coles cookbook.

Coles Choc-mint Ice cream pudding

  • 750ml Vanilla Ice cream. ( we used Maggie Beers Vanilla Bean ice cream, choose your favourite )
  • 200g pkt Chocolate Mint Supreme biscuits – chopped
  • 750ml Chocolate Ice cream. ( we used Chocolate Obsession ice cream )
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries.
  • fresh or frozen raspberries, mint leaves and icing sugar, to serve
  1. Line a pudding bowl with plastic wrap, then with non-stick baking paper. Scoop the vanilla ice cream into a large bowl and leave to soften slightly. Using a large metal spoon mix through the biscuits.
  2. Spoon mixture into the pudding tin, and press with the back of the spoon to smooth the surface. Cover with the plastic wrap and freeze for 2 hours, until firm. Repeat with the chocolate ice cream, mixing in the frozen raspberries, and spoon the mixture on top of the already frozen pudding. Return to the freezer for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
  3. Up to 1 hour before serving, chill a serving platter in the freezer. Turn the pudding onto it, and remove the plastic wrap and paper. Return to the freezer until serving.
  4. To serve, top with fresh or frozen raspberries and mint leaves, duct with icing sugar and cut into slices.


Maggie Beer Vanilla Bean and Elderflower Ice CreamConnoisseur Chocolate Obsession Ice Cream