The idea was to spend the majority of the day exploring vineyards in the Yarra Valley treating my partner Liz (and of course myself) to some great food, wines and whatever took our fancy along the way. First stop was a late lunch at Rochford Winery.
We arrived just after 10:15am to find some interesting things going on. Driving in through the front gate the first thing you notice is a large structure called 'the sails', on the morning we arrived we saw preparations underway for a Segway lesson prior to what we would later learn is a 'Segway tour' around the Roachford Winery.
Continuing on, you drive around the facilities toward the rear of the main complex to to the car park. Upon parking the car I couldn't help but noticed the three Ferrari's and a Maserati. My empty stomach and a hungry wife urging me on we made our way to Isabella's the restaurant at Roachford, looking forward to some tasty food and for Liz a shot of caffeine.
Once seated in Isabella's we enjoyed a breakfast that was touted on the menu as 'Classic Eggs Benedict' which apart from the options including spinach, salmon (Florentine) were served as though deconstructed.
Apart from being unconventional rather than 'classic' the food was tasty. The small things were what I think let down the breakfast experience. There was an abundance of staff around, however it was difficult to gain someones attention, yet my biggest grudge was that the coffee was plain terrible. Given the facilities and the detail that the owners/management have gone to in the facilities of the venue, it is disappointing that a professional barista was not operating the all important coffee machine.
After breakfast and leaving the coffee, I headed out as I do to take some photo's of the facilities. I headed out across the large 'green' area toward the sails and the Segway tour group receiving tutelage on how to operate the two wheel machine.
In researching Roachford and exploring the Restaurant, Grounds, Cellar Door and viewing tower, apart from the wines, Roachford positions itself as a venue for an experience. Whether it be the Segway tour, the website offers ballooning, sky diving but it is the annual 'Day on the Green' and this year, the Cuban Jazz Festival that Roachford becomes an event venue.
Once the photo's were taken it was time to sample the main event, to taste some wine.
Taking our seats at the cellar door bar, we were greeted by a very friendly guide. The intent was to have a taste through the whole flight, which as it turned out to be a considerable list including a few aged bonus wines that were 'on special' the entire flight contained 23 wines. To start the journey here you need to hand over $5 per head, refundable on any purchases made in the cellar door. The notes below are in the order of wines tasted.
2009 Macedon Ranges Pinot Chardonnay Sparkling
- 70% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay and 5% Riesling
- Apricot fruit, creamy with a pleasant dry finish.
2010 Yarra Valley Riesling
- french style Riesling with floral nose, with a touch of ginger and spice on the front.
- really nice balance up front with a lingering, long finish
2012 Yarra Valley Sauvignon (Blanc)
- half of this years Sauvignon parcel was placed in old oak which is subtle on the nose
- crisp, green with notes of toastiness from the oak
2012 Yarra Valley Pinot Gris
- Fig and spice on the nose, delivering this promise on the front palate
- Dry style again with a long acidic/lingering finish
2011 Yarra Valley 'Cerberus' (Gerwrztraminer, Pinot Gris & Riesling)
- Stone fruits and all spice on the nose again delivering on the promise on the palate
- light mouth weight with a lingering, cleansing (without 'clawing') finish
2010 Yarra Valley Viognier
- After the Gerwerz this was a bit thin on the nose, I found it difficult to detect much
- Elegant citrus flavours, like a delicate light lemon
2011 Yarra Valley Chardonnay
- oak, apricot/stone fruit on the nose
- stone fruit on the front, then strong long acidic finish
Promising on the nose, unfulfilled on the palate.
2009 Macedon Ranges Chardonnay
- the nose on this reminded me of an early morning at the Queen Vic seafood market - clean but fishy
- fresh fruit on the palate with a balanced clean finish
2011 Yarra Valley 'Isabella's Vineyard' Chardonnay
- little on the nose
- pleasant fruit with a long lingering finish (95 Points by James Halliday in the 2013 Annual)
2008 Yarra Valley Reserve Chardonnay
- Oak on the nose, gentle hint of a ripe washed rind cheese (like a hint of a ripe Muster)
- Silky, oaky buttery with an gentle bit of acid on the end to clean up after itself. Lovely.
2011 Yarra Valley Saignee Rose´ (50% Pinot Noir & 50% Cabernet Sauvignon)
- Very berry on the nose
- Strawberry lingering, with a light cherry. Elegant with a cleansing finish.
2011 Yarra Valley Pinot Noir
- Red cherry and light spice, with a strong acidic finish.
2010 Macedone Ranges Pinot Noir
- beautiful 'grape must' fruit on the nose
- sweet fruit on the front, quickly runs very dry and long strong finish - too strong for me.
2006 Macedon Rangers Reserve Pinot Noir
- Ribena! huge, juicy blackcurrents on the nose
- Elegant on the front with a medium, silky smooth finish. Nice.
2001 Yarra Valley Pinot Noir **Special at the time of visit, not listed in the wines on offer
- Unique spice with mulled fruit on the nose
- bigger mouth weight with the spicy, jamminess of the mulled fruit coming through on the front. Lingering clean finish. Juicy and mineral tones. The first thought was this would be great with roasted root veg.
2007 Macedon Ranges Pinot Noir **Special at the time of visit, not listed in the wines on offer
- very light on the nose, difficult to pick much up
- Strong jammy cooked fruit. This wine felt as through it was a little long over the hill. Not to my taste.
2011 Yarra Valley Syrah
- Fruit and white pepper on the nose
- Mid body wine (nice table wine) earthy with a mild acidic finish. Typical Yarra Valley (cool climate) Shiraz.
2012 Heathcote Syrah
- Plummy, jammy, spice (cloves) with a hint of chocolate on the nose
- Elegant fruit on the front with a lingering balanced finish. Very nice.
2011 Yarra Valley Cabernet Franc
- black pepper and fruit on the nose
- Cool fruit, full mouth feel (weighty), clean finish. Another nice one.
2006 Le Sanglier Grand Cru St Emilion
This one was a bit special, it is a French wine made by Marc Lunt the Rochford Winemaker (80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc) from 70 year old vines.
- Fruit, then grape must, light spice and pepper
- Fruit on the front, tannins followed by quite a strong long acid finish. Pleasant, but a food wine.
2011 Yarra Valley 'la Gauche' (87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc)
- sweet balanced fruit on the nose, with a 'leather' scent
- full fruit front palate, balanced with a clean acid finish
2012 Yarra Valley 'Isabella's Vineyard' Cabernet Sauvignon
- light fruit, sweet spice notes
- full mouth weight with fruit on the front palate, with a quick clean finish
2012 Yarra Valley Late Harvest White
- sweet minerally nose
- sweet mid body wine, not overly sweet - balanced with flavours of melon and hints of vanilla.
- The history of the Yarra Valley Rochford Vineyard is that it was originally 'Eyton on the Yarra'. The winery and vineyard was purchased by Helmut Konecsny in 2002 who also owned Romsey Park in the Macedon Ranges.
- With some 40 year old vines at Rochford's Yarra Valley vineyard , the majority of the vineyard contains vines between 30 - 35 years old.
- The Rochford Vineyard is currently (at the time of this post) undergoing renovations 'on the green' to increase the capacity of the site from 7,000 patrons to 12,000 to expand the capacity of the events hosted
- Rochford Cellar Door is open 7 days from 9am to 5pm
As a winery destination Roachford has taken some innovative steps to attract people to the site, marketing the site as an events location. Which in a way detracts from what it actually is - a Vineyard and Winery. With so many wineries in the Yarra Valley it is obviously a marketing position by Rochford to be the events location. When we visited there were things going on, but not an event, therefore I couldn't help but think that it suffers a little from the "big vineyard syndrome" I am beginning to see.
The information, specifically the history of the winery, I had to dig and research for because like Yering Station (who has plenty of history) the history of the site is not available to the visitor; you struggle for a sense of place. As a matter of fact, the magnitude of the vineyard is not evident at Rochford when visiting the site; perhaps a Segway tour might open my eyes to more of the vineyard and sense of place.
I am looking forward to visiting again when an event is in full swing.
After a taste of all those different wines it suffice to say we were both suffering more than a little palate fatigue. On the way in, we passed a small place advertising itself as Coldsream Dairy, that was to be our next stop on a beautiful winter Sunday (17 degrees C) in the Yarra Valley.