Best Yarra Valley Wines that aren’t Pinot Noir
We’re pretty big Pinot Noir fans over at Wine Compass (see our favourite Oregon Pinots and our Top 5 Yarra Valley Pinots), particularly with the wonderful selection of Yarra Valley Pinots available at our fingertips, but there are some other really beautiful varieties coming from this region which we think deserve a bit of the limelight.
Here are just a few of the wines coming from the Yarra Valley that aren’t Pinot Noir, and some of the winemakers who are showcasing that this region of Victoria has the climatic and geographical diversity to suit so much more that one grape variety.
Okay, the Yarra Valley is probably known for it’s Chardonnay as much as its Pinot Noir, but we still wanted to give it some love since we tend to go on about Pinot. The cooler climate of this part of Victoria paired with early picking makes for a Chardonnay that isn’t overly buttery and big – many retain a good amount of acidity, and still pack notes of citrus, stone fruits and florals. These wines seem to be less heavily oaked than they once were, too. They can handle ageing, becoming more rich and complex over time. There are really countless beautiful Chardonnays coming from the region, so it’s worth trying you way around to see what you like. I personally love the Chardonnay from Giant Steps.
The Yarra Valley is know for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but other varietals do really well in this cool yet protected region of Victoria
This is an underdog of the region – the styles of Sauvignon Blanc coming out of the Yarra Valley have warm, tropical fruits on the nose but are really nicely rounded and are very easy drinking with just a bit of a chill. Some Yarra Valley producers are giving their Sauvignon Blanc a bit of time in oak, which mellows some of the juicy fruit and makes for a white wine well-matched with seafood. Coldstream Hills does Sauvignon Blanc that comes from a particularly cool part of the region, with a majority of the fermentation and aging in French oak, and some time on the lees – it provides plenty of texture, aroma and spice.
Coldstream Hills produce a Sauvignon Blanc from the cooler, upper parts of the Yarra Valley – it is bright, structured and complex, ideally enjoyed with a meal
Another variety that’s taken less seriously than the Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs, but it does deserve our attention. Yarra Valley Pinot Gris are round, rich, fruity and fresh – pretty much everything I want in a white wine. Clean and full, these are a good alternative to Chardonnays, particular during the warmer months. De Bortoli’s La Bohème is very nice, as is Innocent Bystander’s Sauvignon Blanc – a little grassy, with pear and green apples, but still crisp, acidic and structured. As Pino Gris trends to be fuller and sweeter than Pinot Grigio (one of the reasons I like it from this cooler climate) it is best when paired with rich foods (think entrées of pâté, cured meats and cheeses).
Vineyards in the lower part of the Yarra Valley receive just the right amount of warmth and protection to grow Shiraz. These conditions allow winemakers to create something that develops into an intense and peppery wine, even a bit smoky, without going too big. These beautifully balanced wines do well with food. Punt Road and Oakridge are both notable producers for me.
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