For our last featured region of Australia, we’re going to the Yarra Valley, a section of the south eastern most part of the country, just past Melbourne. Because the area is a valley, there are also two sub-regions, Upper Yarra and the Valley Floor, which both have unique climates and terroir. The Valley Floor is made of sloping hills and tends to be cooler in temperature, while the Upper Yarra is warmer and has more stable soil from being flat.
Rainfall in this region is most limited to winter and spring which means summers are relatively cool and dry with just enough moisture in the air to give life to the vines. Harvesting generally begins in February and March with the Pinot Noir and finishes with the popular Cabernet Sauvignon in April.
This region was the first winemaking region in Victoria, Australia with the first plantings in 1838. However, throughout the following decades, a desire for fortified wines took over Australia which caused the Yarra Valley to cease production around 1921, and it didn’t restart the industry until the late 1960s.
Much of Australia has what is known as “cool climate winemaking” specifically referring to the art of producing wines in cooler temperatures. Grapes thrive in warm weather so getting them to produce luscious juice to make into wine when the climate is a little less controllable is something many Australian winemakers have become experts in, especially in the Yarra Valley.
To be a Yarra Valley wine, the product itself must include at least 85% fruit specifically from the Valley. As with the rest of the country, Shiraz is an exciting part of this region’s production portfolio but over 60% of grapes planted here are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
A Chardonnay from the Yarra Valley will be lighter and not as oaky in flavor with low levels of sugar but higher acidity. The flavor profile of the Pinot Noirs are very related to the vineyard it comes from, ranging from aromatic and perfumed, to earthy and savory. Because Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are commonly used for sparkling wines, that is also a premium product from the Yarra Valley.
What’s better than great wine and artisanal pizza?
The New York Times described Ridge Monte Bello as “America’s greatest Cabernet Sauvignon.”
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