Right in the heart of St Andrews in the Upper Yarra Valley sits the Punch Wine Room. Unlike most wineries, Punch does not have a cellar door overlooking their vineyards and has instead leased a special purpose building from which to showcase their range.
Visitors will learn the history of their colourful, “Friends of Punch” labels, wines made from grapes bought from other growers that started after the Black Saturday bushfires that destroyed a lot of Yarra Valley vines, the winery has now narrowed its scope to locally grown grapes, but still buys quite a lot of grapes not grown on the Punch property. These wines all go by the name “Friends of Punch”.
What we liked: Almost everything about this winery is a positive. The large list of high-end restaurants that Punch supplies to is testament to the quality of the grapes and the skill of the winemaker, but a few wines in particular stood out for us. The 2016 Semillon is a wonderful wine at $25 per bottle; if you were tasting blind you would be forgiven for picking it as a Chardonnay on smell and a White Burgundy on tasting, but the wine is 100% Semillon grapes. It is drinking really well now, but Semillon is one wine variety that is famous for improving greatly with some age – we look forward to tasting this wine again in a few years time. On the red front the Estate grown Cabernet Sauvignon is our pick. At $45 per bottle it is a bit on the high side of what we look for in an everyday drinking wine. This example has super-fine tannins that are nonetheless ever-present, giving amazing structure to a beautiful example of cooler-climate Cabernet Sauvignon.
Our Verdict: This is a “must visit” if you are in the area. It is a fair way from the rest of the Yarra Valley, but there are a few other winery cellar doors on the way, including Rob Dolan and Kellybrook.