Rochford Wines in the Yarra Valley is a busy place. From the concerts to the hot air balloon rides and Segway tours, there is also some magnificent dining to be found and a lovely selection of wines to sample. It is this last feature which made us decide to visit, although the hot air balloon rides are fantastic and the dining is similarly excellent.
As with other large wineries in the Yarra Valley (and boutique wineries for that matter…) on weekends this place can get very busy and it may be a bit of a wait for room at the tasting bar. We arrived nice and early, but there was competition for our parking spaces when we left.
NV Prosecco: Grown in the King Valley (where a lot of Prosecco is grown) this Italian style sparkling is light gold in colour with very fine bubbles. The palate is crisp with green apple flavours but not overly complex, which makes for easy drinking. The length is a bit short, but this was a popular wine in our tasting and one that may well continue to appear at our regular meetings. $27 per bottle.
Isabella’s Blanc de Blancs: This is the prestige sparkling and is more of a French style than the Prosecco. The palate is sweeter and softer, has a bit more length and structure through the finish, but opinion was divided as to which of the sparkling wines was a better experience. This wine came out slightly ahead, but you pay for the experience. $54 per bottle.
2018 Pinot Gris: Fruit sourced in the King Valley. Soaked on skins for a few days, so the wine has a lovely orange colour with hints of pink. The nose is sweet, with more of the pear notes than apple. Flavour comes in levels, with some sourness and dryness through the finish. A very nice wine. $30 per bottle.
2018 “Cerberus” white blend: OUR PICK FOR BEST WHITE. This is a blend, but Gewurztraminer is the dominant grape variety which we love as a rule (German whites are generally an excellent choice, just think Riesling…). This blend starts with a sweetness in the palate that remains soft but grows in complexity and remains beautiful right through to the finish. A simply brilliant piece of winemaking. $27 per bottle.
Estate Pinot Noir: 50% whole bunch fermentation which seems to be a popular modern trend, although different winemakers are experimenting with different percentages. The nose on this wine is not big at all, which was a surprise given the depth of colour in the glass. It was still very much true to variety, although some sweet notes came through suggesting the palate may be a bit on the sweet side. Surprisingly, the palate was more towards the dry end of the Pinot Noir taste spectrum. There is some good red fruit present and it does grow through the palate but there is never quite enough of it, despite a very lovely finish, this wine just left us wanting something more. $38 per bottle.
2017 “La Gauche” Cabernet Sauvignon: Also has 7% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc which we assumed was to smooth out the palate. If this was the intent, it was achieved very well. The colour is deep and dark, cherry black and the nose is typical Cabernet Sauvignon with some distinct leafiness; the bouquet was not forceful and this is possibly also due to the blend; the art of the trade-off of flavour at the expense of smell is always a challenge, but in this case it worked. The palate is consistently soft, softer than many straight Cabernet Sauvignon wines and the fruit was ever present but never quite dominant. The finish kept true to the smoothness of the first taste and was reasonable in length. What surprised us was the amount of sediment (some of it quite chunky) left in the glass at the end, given the young age of the wine and the fact that it was sealed under screwcap. Still a very nice wine.