Every time I go to the Yarra Valley I think to myself “Why don’t I do this more often?”. If you live in Melbourne’s North it’s only a 45 minute journey (quicker than getting to St Kilda on a busy day). But when you arrive you feel as if you’re a million miles away from the city. Or in the case of Dominique Portet, in another country altogether. Everything about this winery with its vine covered tasting room looking out over a petanque court is oh so fabulously French.
I was invited to lunch at Dominique Portet to celebrate the 2015 vintage. What a vintage it is! I was already a fan of Dominique Portet’s Rosé but was delighted to discover the Brut Rosé on this visit. It’s the softest shade of blush pink and has just the right amount of bubbles and sweetness without being saccharine. Tres bon.
The Portet family asked legendary chef Phillipe Mouchel to provide lunch for the visit as usually the winery serves up simpler cafe style food. Mouchel has just opened up again in Melbourne at Deja Vu following the sad closure of PM24.
Well let me tell you, Mouchel is back. Everything we ate was spot on from the generous charcuterie platter brimming with chunky rillette and tiny cornichons to the huge cassoulets which were served family style in the centre of the table. Each course was perfectly matched with a Dominique Portet wine and I particularly enjoyed the more full bodied 2014 Sauvignon Blanc which held its own against the strong flavours on the charcuterie board.
Dominque Portet’s rosé was just as good as I remembered. It’s a dry and light tasting rosé that immediately makes you think of Summer. But given it is Winter I was offered the 2013 Heathcote Shiraz to accompany the cassoulet. It’s a smooth shiraz, striking but not overblown. A great match to the cassoulet.
And what a cassoulet. It was far superior than any cassoulets I’ve eaten in France which sometimes have the feeling of being made from a heap of leftovers. Mouchel’s version featured the most delicious sausages and fall off the bone slow cooked chicken. Filling and gutsy it was perfect food for a Winter’s day.
Next up was a cheese course complete with sharp Comté and oozing Brie. I particularly loved the accompanying apricots soaked in honey. I’ll be trying that trick at home. Of course in France the cheese course comes before dessert so there was still more to come.
We finished our meal with a selection of patisseries made by Mouchel eaten beside the petanque. Of course I had to try a little bit of every one and can confirm that the lemon tart was particularly good with a tangy lemon filling topped with fluffy meringue.
It was such a lovely Winters afternoon with the food and setting really showcasing the spirit of the Dominique Portet winery. It’s all about wine which is sophisticated but also enjoyable. As Ben Portet says, “the most important part of our story is we make wine to drink with food.”
Gourmet Chick was invited to review Dominique Portet
Details: Dominique Portet, 870 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream, Yarra Valley (Ph 03 5962 5760)
Damage: Unknown. On this occasion I did not pay.