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Dominique Portet - Yarra Valley, Australia

Updated: Sep 20, 2023

Origins - Background and Introduction

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, and so the origins of this awesome lovely wine brand has its humble beginnings liked to the wineyards in France.

Currently his son Ben Portet – 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. We had the wonderful opportunity to visit, taste, tour and sample the lovely variants from the different vintages from Dominique Portet, one lovely morning in July 2023.

Dominique Portet - the Man himself

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.

Understanding a brand and comprehending a vintage, requires a good review of the terroir, the terrain, the climate and environment and along with it, the winemaker's style, training and cultural charisma that governs the delivery of a particular wine style, so aside from understanding the original winemaker of Dominique, we also take a look at Ben's training and wine style origins...


Ben Portet - the new generation

Along with the incredible lineage and pedigree that comes with being a 10th generation winemaker, Ben has benefited from the wisdom and experiences of many. That began with four vintages at the renowned Adelaide University finishing school of Brian Croser and Con Moshos at Petaluma in the Adelaide Hills.


Internationally he has worked with Philippe Blanc of Bordeaux’s Château Beychevelle, in Reims with Louis Roederer and honed his skill with Syrah in Hermitage working with M. Chapoutier. His "new world" experiences include South Africa’s Stellenbosch Warwick Estate, as well as a stint in California’s Napa Valley artisan St Helena winery Vineyard 29. Since returning to the Dominique Portet Winery in 2008, he has not only continued 40 years of pioneering family wine craftsmanship in Australia, but also been a leading industry judge, completing the Len Evans Tutorial scholarship in 2017.

The Label

The arabesque form that adorns the labels is designed by celebrated Greek jeweller Ilias Lalaounis. The shape suggests grace, strength, purity of line. It symbolises the close bonds between generations, families and continents. The design derives from a pair of earrings worn by Dominique’s wife, Julia, who met the Lalaounis family when she was a student. Their friendship has grown over the decades.


Ilias Lalaounis is the only jeweller to be welcomed as an associate of the Académie des Beaux-Arts of the Institut de France in Paris. He has boutiques in Athens, Paris, London, Geneva, Zurich, New York, Hong Kong and Tokyo. His work has been exhibited in New York, Washington DC, Paris and at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow.

Range of Wines

A diversity of wine varietals are present at this wonderful and lovely venue.


Dominique Portet was instrumental in highlighting Australia's potential for sparkling at Clover Hill, Tasmania. That dedication continues with this highly acclaimed sparkling. It's light, fresh, and, as James Halliday notes, "A totally delicious and elegantly poised wine…"


Long regarded as Australia's first true Provence style - and arguably most successful - dry Rosé. Pale pink with ripe fruit, a creamy and generous mouthfeel, followed by lip-smacking acidity on the long, dry finish.


Grown on the cellar door site in Coldstream, this Sauvignon Blanc based dessert wine is a beautifully balanced wine with a wide spectrum of aromas and flavours. All while still being appealing fresh with modest sugar levels that make pairing this wine easier and gives much diverse application both on its own and with food. Made in a classic French Sauternes style picked when the fruit hits the botrytis point in the cool months of May with much higher sugar levels than a drier style of Sauvignon Blanc.


Long regarded as Australia’s first true Provence style - and arguably most successful - dry Rosé. This has been a mainstay of Dominque Portet since the beginnning, and is now stronger than ever thanks to Rosé’s global success. Pale pink with ripe fruit, creamy mouthfeel and crunchy acidity - it’s everything you’d want from a Rosé.


It’s a rich, rounder style than we usually produce, with power, opulence and texture balanced by crisp natural acidity, adding freshness and poise. Delicious now, a couple of years in the cellar would help accentuate the experience.


Grown on the cellar door site in Coldstream, this Sauvignon Blanc based dessert wine is a beautifully balanced wine with a wide spectrum of aromas and flavours. All while still being appealing fresh with modest sugar levels that make pairing this wine easier and gives much diverse application both on its own and with food. Made in a classic French Sauternes style picked when the fruit hits the botrytis point in the cool months of May with much higher sugar levels than a drier style of Sauvignon Blanc.

Textbook, classic Yarra Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - bright, fresh, and juicy. Plenty of concentrated red berry fruits and bramble, refreshing acidity and fine tannins give the wine a silky texture and a long finish.


Bright pale ruby, leafy blackcurrant, earth with some oak smoke and red fruit. These combine perfectly with sour cherry, cranberry and red plum with very light tannins and fresh fruit flavours of raspberry and red apple. Structurally generous and open, the drive comes from elevated acidity integrated perfectly. Vibrant and full of life.


This vineyard was originally the source of our sparkling wines, but the quality of the grapes was so too good not to make it into a single vineyard still wine.


This vineyard was originally the source of our sparkling wines, but the quality of the grapes was so too good not to make it into a single vineyard still wine.


The 2022 vintage has bright colour and lifted notes of dark plums, spice and liquorice come through strongly. This year the wine is showing more medium bodied character and finesse, announced through silky fine tannin structure and balanced acidity through to the finish.


2019 will go down as one of the great vintages for accessible, bright and fragrant Cabernet. 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.


The pinnacle of the Dominique Portet wines, André is made only in exceptional vintages - 2015 is only the 6th release. It is named after Dominique Portet’s father and Ben’s grandfather, 8th generation winemaker and former Technical Director (vineyard and winery manager) at the esteemed Château Lafite-Rothschild in Pauillac, Bordeaux

Cellar Door

Set amongst the beautiful rolling vineyards of the Yarra Valley, their recently renovated cellar door is open daily from 10.30am to 5pm (closed Public Holidays). They would love to welcome you, share what they love to do, and have been doing since 2000 - whether its tastings, tours of the barrel room and winery, or something a little more drawn out.

Their L'Apéro menu draws on our Bordeaux roots to bring you French family classics. We also have a pretty full calendar of family-friendly, social food and wine events throughout the year.


VISITING DOMINIQUE PORTET WINERY

CELLAR DOOR & DINING

10am to 5pm

Please visit their bookings page for opening hours.


Address:

870-872 Maroondah Hwy Coldstream, Victoria

Ph: 03 5962 5760



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