Ninth-generation winemaker Dominique Portet chose the cool climate of aptly named Coldstream in the Yarra Valley as home to the eponymous winery he founded in 2000. It was the culmination of a tenacious search for grapegrowing terroir to rival that of his native Bordeaux – but also the start of a new chapter in a winemaking story that has its roots in France in the early 1700s. Now son Ben – generation 10 – heads the winemaking team, firmly observing the central tenets of this young yet historic estate: respect for tradition, understanding of site and an open mind towards contemporary practices that shape wines that are ever more refined and delicious.
The grapes for this traditional-method sparkling came from two elevated vineyards (250m) in the Upper Yarra. Both sites have benefited from very good growing conditions over recent vintages, with abundant warm days, cool nights and very little rain. This has allowed the fruit to ripen gradually with excellent flavour development and balanced sugars and acids.
The grapes were handpicked, gently pressed and fermented before going through secondary fermentation in bottle. The wine was then aged for two years in our cool, temperature-controlled cellars, then disgorged and given a light dosage prior to release.
From a mature site in the Upper Yarra Valley, the vines grow on volcanic red soils on a steep, fast-draining slope at an altitude of 250m. The elevation makes for cooler growing conditions compared with the valley floor, slowing the ripening process, which allows for intense, complex aromas and flavours to develop. The cool nights increase the ripening period and help the grapes retain vital acidity for freshness and drive. The cool weather and frequent rains throughout the year saw the fruit have plenty of freshness and acidity to produce a contemporary style of Chardonnay with elegance and vitality.
The hand-picked fruit was gently pressed in whole bunches to tank and then fermented in French oak puncheons (25% new). The cool, wet year ensured we had plenty crisp acidity and purity with lots of citrus characters and drive. To help accentuate weight and mouthfeel, we allowed the wine to go through a slightly higher than usual amount of malolactic fermentation (35%) - helping us soften acidity while adding complexity and depth. After ten months of barrel ageing with a proportion of less stirring to add more weight and texture, the wine was transferred to tank for two months for settling before we bottled it.
With a constant eye on the skies and the vineyards, our decision to pick early had us produce a Chardonnay with freshness and poise, showing bright fruit, plenty of lime, citrus characters and saline-like minerality. Lees stirring and a good proportion going through malo in French oak added pleasant hazelnut and spice notes. The restrained nature of this vintage would benefit from a bit of time in the cellar to integrate and broaden slightly.
2022 was another cool growing season with just enough sunshine during the summer months - you could be excused for calling it classic which is ideal, as that’s also the genre of Rosé we make and best suited to Australian summers. The fruit comes from various cool sites, which allows the fruit to ripen gradually while retaining vital natural acidity and refreshment that makes a good Rosé so special.
Comprised of 55% Merlot, 35% Cabernet and 10% Shiraz, and all picked by hand before being gently crushed and pressed. Fermentation in stainless steel tanks for pure, unadulterated red fruit expression and freshness.
In true Provence fashion, its pale salmon with scents of cherry blossom, and ripe red berries. The berry spectrum continues on the palate, but think ripe, plum, juicy berries; add to that some stone fruit and its almost like a Peach Melba in a glass - plenty of freshness and poise but with weight, body and creaminess. As bright as the light over the Mediterranean, with a long dry, crisp finish.
For us, the Fontaine wines represent the full breadth of the Yarra Valley by sourcing from a range of vineyards in both the northern and southern ends of the Valley. The sites are all north facing for maximum sunshine and are generally clay based soils with broken sandstone, allowing for excellent water retention. This enables the vines to handle summer drought and consistently deliver Cabernet Sauvignon that is concentrated yet elegant; as well as juicy with soft, silky tannins.
A mild spring with later than average budburst set the scene for the cool growing season. Summer began dry but remained mild - in the end the season brought everything together albeit much later than the previous year and gave us a wine that resulted in a really classic Yarra style of Cabernet - restrained, juicy with with fine tannins. We strive for drinkability through elegance, and the season came through to help deliver exactly that.
85% Cabernet Sauvignon,12% Merlot, 2% Malbec, and 1% Cabernet Franc. Everything is picked and sorted by mechanical sorting line, then de-stemmed and fermented at a relatively cool temperature to accentuate the aromatics and brightness. The wine spent 20 days on skins, before being moved to French oak barrels, of which 20% are new and then aged for 14 months prior to bottling.
2018 was a warm, dry vintage that gave us moderate yields that resulted in a deliciously silky and seductive dark fruit spectrum. The intensity and weight is balanced with structure and plenty refreshing acidity that allowed us to pursue a juicier, more slurpable style of Cabernet that is a joy to drink young, yet will beguile with age.
This was definitely a Cabernet vintage - the blend comprises of 96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. As always, the grapes were picked by hand and the fruit was sorted on our state-of-the-art sorting line, de-stemmed and gently crushed. The wine spent 25 days on skins to develop structure, a silky texture yet retain its freshness, brightness and lift. It was then aged in French oak (35% new) for 14 months before being estate bottled in August 2019.
This excellent vintage allowed us to really showcase the structure and flavour spectrum we are capable of achieving in the Yarra Valley. Everything came into balance - The fruit is dark, brooding and mouth coating; the tannins are svelte and long; the acidity is clean and refreshing. It all intertwines seamlessly, to give us a wine we consider to be bright, detailed, elegant and fine.
Just east of Melbourne, in Victoria, is the wine region of Yarra Valley. It has one of the lowest mean January temperatures of the Victorian wine regions (18.9℃) and is one of the largest wine regions outside of Murray Darling - Swan Hill. The GI is 3,130 km2 in size and has a total of 2,837 hectares of vineyards. The main varieties grown in the region are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Shiraz, and Cabernet Sauvignon.Explore region
Dominique Portet got his first whiff of wine at one of the world’s most illustrious wine properties: Château Lafite-Rothschild. It was here in Pauillac that his father, André Portet, served as régisseur (vineyard & winery manager). Dominique went on to earn his stripes at Montpellier University of Oenology before perking up morale as wine-buying adviser during compulsory military service. He later spent vintages in the Médoc, Rhône Valley, Provence and with Champagne giant Moët et Chandon, as well as in the Napa Valley at his brother Bernard’s Clos du Val estate.
"I found fragrance and structure – most of all the structure reminds me of Bordeaux. The Yarra has a charm, a beauty that engulfs you. The wines are worldly."
Since 1976 he has been a pioneer of the renaissance of Australia’s cool-climate wine industry, founding renowned sparkling wine house Taltarni in the Pyrenees and Clover Hill in Tasmania.
In 2000 he embarked on his greatest adventure: the Dominique Portet winery in the Yarra Valley.
Ninth-generation winemaker Dominique Portet chose the cool climate of aptly named Coldstream in the Yarra Valley as home to the eponymous winery he founded in 2000.
It was the culmination of a tenacious search for grapegrowing terroir to rival that of his native Bordeaux – but also the start of a new chapter in a winemaking story that has its roots in France in the early 1700s.
Now son Ben – generation 10 – heads the winemaking team, firmly observing the central tenets of this young yet historic estate: respect for tradition, understanding of site and an open mind towards contemporary practices that shape wines that are ever more refined and delicious.