Dominique Portet, Yarra Valley
Tucked into the serene and picturesque Yarra Valley of Victoria, the Dominique Portet Winery is renowned for its deep roots in French soil — Bordeaux to be exact. The art of winemaking has been passed down through the Portet lineage from 18th century France; a father and son duo (ninth and tenth generation) run this winery with experience that spans around the world.
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. 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. He has been a pioneer of the renaissance of Australia’s cool-climate wine industry since 1976, 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.
"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."
Now Dominique's son Ben 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 ever more refined and delicious. 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. He has worked internationally 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].