The 'Melbourne Dress Circle' Tasting

As a city full of wine tragics we are more fortunate than most to have access to such an amazing selection of wine regions at our doorstep. Add to that a collection of high quality, artisanal producers and obsessive local winemakers and Victoria has forged itself as a dynamo of bespoke and boutique wine experiences, home to nearly half of the nation’s wine producers.Drive a little more than an hour, in any direction outside of Melbourne, towards either Macedon, the Yarra Valley, Mornington or Geelong and you’ll be travelling within an area, affectionately coined by James Halliday as ‘the Melbourne Dress Circle’. It represents a band of sites and regions that surround Melbourne in a circle, funnily enough, and initially was used in conjunction with sites ideally suited to Pinot. However, with a continuing focus on cool climate wines and Victoria’s prowess with the variety, Chardonnay is an obvious candidate to be included alongside it.

What makes these sites so unique is what makes so many other famous wine regions around the world unique – a sense of place tied to the land, encompassing the combination of variety (or varieties), topography, climate and soil. The diversity of Geelong’s exposed and windswept vineyards that result in structured and firmly, detailed wines; Mornington’s delicate warmth and cooling maritime influence or Yarra’s multiple micro-climates and numerous, vineyards sites, each present a unique and varied DNA expressed through their wines. Made in a classic yet modern style many of these wines would be too exuberant to merit being called “Old World in style” but they do defy an old and outdated logic that Australian wines are only big, robust and fruity. Something we have known here for some time and that our voracious local appetite for these wines is testament too.

The wine below represent the best of the best, classics and some young guns of the Victorian wines scene. They are both an exploration of site as well as glimpse our wine-making future and what it has to offer. This is a pretty exciting time to be drinking locally and the quality of wines being produced is second to none in Australia.