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Domaine Chandon, Yarra Valley

I've just been to a Sunday school where there's wine and bread but nary a bible in sight. Instead the good word comes from a small white booklet labeled Chandon and the wine flows like water.

Last time I went to Sunday school I was seven years old and had my five year old brother in tow. It was just before Palm Sunday so we emerged with small crosses made out of palm fronds and thin, faded bookmark pictures of Jesus wearing flowing robes.

This is Sunday school like I've never experienced before. Instead of dusty old church pews in a drafty hall we are ensconced in the warmth of a building designed to reflect Australian and French heritage, make superb wine and turn wine drinkers into educated wine lovers.

Every Sunday believers in wine gather in the historic homestead on Domaine Chandon's Yarra Valley property at Coldstream, Victoria.  We start with an impressive array of wine glasses strategically placed in front of us along with a spittoon for those who prefer not to swallow.

The two and a half hour wine discovery workshop takes guests through the creation and diversity of Chandon wines exploring wine mixing and tasting both young and old and still and sparking wines.

I've now got a few new wine facts to throw around a the next dinner party.  Did you know that it takes three and a half years to make vintage wine and just 30 minutes to drink it?  

I also have profound respect for Madame Clicquot (born 16 December 1777 in Reims, France) who discovered how to separate the lees (dead yeast) from the wine through a technique now known as riddling by cutting holes in her dining room table to hold the bottles on an angle. Go Barbe-Nicole - that's dedication to the bubbles!

We tasted wine so new it could hardly be called wine and others blended from up to 45 different wines.  How do you make a great wine?  Well at Domaine Chandon they blend using their own secret squirrel formulas and secret wine makers business to create what I'd describe as top drops.  

After tasting champagne and oysters followed by a antipasto platter brimming with prosciutto, artichokes, olives, good bread and more, we head into the winery proper to see where they actually make the wine.  It's a world of large stainless steel vats and big wooden barrels.  We taste young wine straight from the barrel and agree some more time inside is needed before it graces our table.

A walk through the arched riddling hall, filled to the brim with angled bottles of sparkling wine is a sobering experience and then it's onto lunch in The Greenpoint Brasserie which I'll share on another day.

After my brief Sunday School session I've decided I'm definitely not cut out to be a wine maker, but give me great wine to drink any day.Sunday School runs from 11am to 1.30pm on Sundays.

Domain Chandon, 727 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream.

Recommended for:  Perfect for couples wanting a weekend getaway

Best tip:  Enjoy the full experience and get a driver. Brian Ingleson from A Day in the Valley Transfers  is recommended. Ph 0405 249 030

Bottom line:  Sunday School costs $75 which includes some delicious oysters and an antipasto tasting platter. 

Disclaimer: E,d+bK was a guest of Domaine Chandon.


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