He who knows how to taste, does not drink wine, but savours secrets. Yet travelling unearths those secrets.
This is how Dan Buckle, Chandon Senior Winemaker, conducts his best R&D: by making an impromptu focus group out of unsuspecting tourists at, one of the most bustling and beautiful destinations in Yarra Valley.
As soon as Dan asked the question, our hands shot up. He led us to a white tablecloth draped surface with glasses containing eight sparkling rosés — some from California, some from the Champagne region of France, all identities disguised. He asked us what we thought.
An imprecise experiment, maybe, but a useful one to confirm some of Dan’s suspicions. While most people liked the fruitier, more expressive wines. We all gravitated towards the rosés with darker colours.
Chandon flies the flag as the only Australian sparkling specialists with genuine French heritage. It all began decades ago, when Moët & Chandon dared to dream differently, believing that the unknown could deliver brilliant opportunity. Produce superlative sparkling wines outside its hallowed French terroir? But of course.
In Australia, the Gallic winemakers chose the Yarra Valley. With the cool climate and loamy soils of an old dairy farm, they put down the first plantings and began to shape what is today the renowned Domaine Chandon. Their craft combines the magic of forth ripe grapes, time-honoured production techniques and decades of experience to elevate their wines on a world-class stage.
They create still wines of elegance and finesse and sparkling drops using the méthode traditionelle. What is méthode traditionnelle, you ask? The alchemy of bubbles. Centuries ago, the practice ripened in France’s Champagne region, where the grape juice underwent two separate fermentations – one in a tank or barrel, the second in a bottle, producing exceptionally fine, tiny bubbles.
Our visit to the Yarra Valley winemaking home was a truly unique wine tourism experience where enthusiastic and knowledgeable wine hosts built our understanding of the wonder of winemaking. For those who are food fanatics, a sophisticated and relaxed meal can be enjoyed in their restaurant, matched by incomparable views of the glorious Yarra Valley.
The 100 hectare property is rimmed by the Yarra Ranges in the distance, a majestic setting for sampling from the cellar. That picturesque view and the fine, elegant bubbles made on-site lure around 250,000 visitors per year.
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June - July 2019