Description 1 of 2
The Yarra Valley is the best known region within Port Phillip in the state of Victoria in Australia. Port Phillip is often referred to as the “Melbourne Dress Circle” due to the trend toward small scale “boutique” wine-making that is showcased in the city’s bistros and winebars. The Yarra Valley is the clear star of the Port Phillip wine scene.
It’s one of the country’s oldest regions, with the first grapes brought over and planted in the 1880s. Though it managed to escape the Phylloxera louse infestation that ravaged Europe’s vines and also those in some parts of the country, it still experienced a lull starting in the 1920s due to the trend in big, fruity and fortified wines. But it came back big time in the 1960s and 70s with wine-makers focusing on quality, starting with Wantima Estate and followed by Fergusson, Yarra Yering, Seville, Yering Station and Chateau Yarrinya (now De Bortoli) and others.
This is one of the coolest regions in Australia and lends itself to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, both often made in the more restrained Burgundian style and in sparkling wine. Other white grapes include Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Viognier and even Marsanne, Rousanne and Gewurtztraminer. Popular reds are Cabernet, Shiraz and Merlot with Malbec, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Nebbiolo and Sangiovese also grown.
Description 2 of 2
This was a famous and important region during Victoria's golden viticultural era in the 19th century. Vines were first planted in 1838, and viticulture spread rapidly through the 1860s and 1870s. However, declining soil fertility and the Australia-wide move towards fortified wine production saw production cease in 1921. Phylloxera has never afflicted the valley. Replanting began in the late 1960s, but it was not until the early 1990s that the area under vine passed the high point of the 19th century. The Yarra Valley is now recognised as one of Australia's foremost producers of Pinot Noir, and a leading maker of fine, long-lived Chardonnay, as well as excellent Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz. Given the considerable variation in altitude and the significance of aspect (i.e. whether north or south on the many hillside vineyards), it is not surprising that there is substantial variation in climate. Even the warmest sites are, comparatively speaking, cool. The mean January temperature at Healesville is 18.6°C (66°F), which is lower than at Bordeaux or Burgundy. Its heat summation of 1354 tends more to Bordeaux (1392) than Dijon (1223) while that of its highest vineyards, is not much over 1100 and much cooler than even Dijon. The topography is as varied as that of any wine region in Australia. It ranges from river flats or terraces through to some of the steepest slopes to be found in the country, equalled only by those of the Adelaide Hills. On the steeper slopes, aspect is of great importance, with north facing slopes strongly preferred. There are two basic soil types; the traditional areas on the northern side of the valley which are grey to grey-brown in colour on the surface and range from loamy sand to clay loam in consistency with red-brown clay subsoils, frequently impregnated with rock. Most are relatively acidic and low in fertility, but are generally well drained. The other major soil type is the immensely deep and fertile red volcanic soil to be found at Seville, Hoddles Creek and elsewhere on the southern (Warburton) side of the valley. Great care in cultivation should be taken with the latter soil type to devigorate vines planted in it, so that they produce fruit and not luxuriant foliage.
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