Wurundjeri Country - Coldstream, Yarra Valley, Victoria
The Portet family represents the know-how and instincts that come from ten generations of winemaking around the world. Dominique himself, the ninth generation, got his first taste of wine at one of the world’s most illustrious properties: Château Lafite-Rothschild in Paulliac, Bordeaux, where his father Andre Portet served as long-time régisseur.
Dominique went on to study at Montpellier University of Oenology before spending vintages in the Médoc, Rhône Valley, Provence, and Champagne, as well as in Napa Valley, at his brother Bernard’s estate Clos du Val. Since 1976, he has been a pioneer of Australia’s cool-climate wine industry, founding renowned sparkling wine houses Taltarni in the Pyrenees and Clover Hill in Tasmania, before forming his eponymous winery in the Yarra Valley in 2000.
Ben Portet represents the tenth generation of winemakers in the Portet family. Ben attended Adelaide University then worked in the Adelaide Hills before venturing further afoot to work at Saint-Julien’s Château Beychevelle, Champagne’s Louis Roederer, and Hermitage’s M. Chapoutier, before finishing up his world tour in Stellenbosch and Napa Valley. He returned to his family estate in 2008, and has been a leading light in the Australian wine industry, widely recognized as one of the country’s great cabernet winemakers.
Of all the regions to choose, Dominique set up shop in Coldstream of the Lower Yarra Valley because of its ability to rival the grapegrowing terroir of his native Bordeaux. “I found fragrance and structure – most of all the structure reminds me of Bordeaux,” says Dominique. “The Yarra has a charm, a beauty that engulfs you. The wines are worldly.” In addition to making some of the country’s finest Bordeaux varieties, the Portets are also constantly evolving, with new vineyards established in Gladysdale of the Upper Yarra, a recent focus on chardonnay and pinot noir, and (true to Dominique’s Australian background) some excellent sparkling wine.
What Jane and Jon Have to Say...
“The first time we had the wines of Dominique Portet was at a blind tasting dinner, pitted against the heaviest hitters of cabernet from Bordeaux, Napa, and Italy. Even before the reveal, the wines stood out to us for their grace, structure, balance, and wild drinkability. They epitomize everything you want in cabernet (and wine in general): complexity and profundity without sacrificing deliciousness and freshness.”
“What a classy Yarra Valley Cabernet is doing at this price point is beyond me.”