With our own little slice of Burgundy on the doorstep, it seemed churlish not to get involved in the Mornington Peninsula's Pinot Week this week.
Eileen organised tickets for the Montalto event - an afternoon of tastings at three of Halliday's five-star-rated pinot wineries, followed by a gala dinner at Montalto itself. The weather held: a beautiful sunny (but brisk) afternoon spent wandering through sprouting vines is no bad way to go.
First winery was Scorpo (not Scorpio) winery, where we tried barrel samples from this year's vintage and got a sneak preview of the 2008 vintage. I even went as far as to try the Chardonnays on offer, which as most of you will know, is a miracle for me.
Off on the bus to Prancing Horse Estate, who practise organic and bio-dynamic viticulture. We sat in their beautiful house (about 30 of us) sampling their locally-produced pinot and comparing it to their very own Premier Cru Burgundy whilst Sergio explained the origins and basis of bio-dynamics. A huge platter of gooey cheese perfected the experience.
Back at Montalto as the sun - and warmth of the day - started to fade, we stood in the piazza under gas heaters whilst owner John Mitchell and his chief winemaker Robin took us through three 2009 barrel samples from three different blocks, explaining how clone types and aspect differences make for such varying wines despite their close proximity to each other.
Sipping a glass of bubbly and downing oysters, sushi and tempura, we watched the light fade over the vines and olive groves before dinner was served. Interesting flavours abounded, including my personal favourite of wild hare ravioli served in a pinot and chocolate sauce. Sounds odd, but it really worked. We sampled six more pinots from 2001 upwards, and put the world to rights with Eileen and Kelvin.
A long drive home (thanks Orlando) meant a 2am end to the day, but a great start to spring.