Most of the Champagne houses of France have been fermenting grape juice for almost three centuries, repeating the same traditional methods their ancestors did from generation to generation. So when Möet & Chandon decided to plant roots outside of the motherland in Argentina in 1959, California and Brazil in 1973, and then Australia in 1987, it bordered on revolutionary.
In Australia the Gallic winemakers chose the Yarra Valley. With the cool climate and loamy soils of an old dairy farm, they put down the first plantings and began to shape what is today the renowned Domaine Chandon.
The 100-hectare property is rimmed by the Yarra Ranges in the distance, a majestic setting for sampling from the cellar. That picturesque view –and the fine, elegant bubbles made on-site – now lures around 250,000 visitors per year. Now that the winery is turning 30 it’s the perfect occasion to invite visitors to a celebration.
A birthday renovation
“It was the occasion of our 30th anniversary that gave us the impetus to refresh the site,” says estate director Shaine De Venny. “We’re always very respectful of the French heritage we have from Möet & Chandon, and we also try to embrace the pioneering, entrepreneurial spirit that’s been demonstrated in developing such an iconic Australian business. So with those two elements in mind, we decided it was something we wanted to express through the renovation.”
The new-look cellar door and restaurant was designed by Melbourne’s Foolscap Studio. It has fashioned four distinct open plan areas for tasting and dining. To complement the restaurant, there’s a retail space as well as a cellar door hosting tastings and masterclasses. It then opens into the lounge; an informal wine bar serving share plates and wine by the glass or bottle. Its centrepiece is a curvy, dusty-pink-banquette seating arrangement offering direct views out to the vineyard and undulating ranges beyond.
De Venny says the central idea of the redesign was to create a diverse experience for guests: “Whether you want to come into the Tasting Bar and learn about a range of premium sparkling wines, or you’re only popping in for 30 minutes and want to enjoy a glass of bubbles and something casual to eat in the Lounge Bar, there’s an experience for everyone.”
In its remodeled restaurant, Chandon is taking the formalities up a notch. It now offers à la carte and set menus with suggested wine pairings. “We’ve honed the focus to be more European in style, given our roots in France,” says executive chef Joshua Smyth. “So we’re really focusing on French cuisine, with a modern Australian influence. We use a lot of local ingredients. Zucchini flowers and strawberries are coming into season, and in January we’ll get beautiful local tomatoes. Our meat supplier sources from all over Victoria and a little bit from the south of New South Wales.”
The fresh design aims to bring the outside in, engaging the colours and materiality of the vineyard and the winery to create an elegant dining environment. Australian spotted gum timber and Dreamtime marble sourced from the Chillagoe quarry in Cairns join a palette of eucalyptus green, dusty pink and bright pops of orange.
“We have beautiful colours across the vineyard in autumn, from the bright green like it is now in summer, right through to burnt oranges and golds,” says De Venny. “So that’s the colour palette we’ve used inside. We wanted to be true to our Australian terroir, but we also wanted to bring that chic, luxury feel in tune with our French parentage.”
Win a feast for you and up to 30 friends
Chandon is giving you the chance to discover all of the above for yourself. To help celebrate its 30th anniversary, the winemaker is offering one lucky Broadsheet reader and up to 30 of their friends the chance to win a day-trip to the vineyard. It includes a three-course meal, a tour of the vineyard and return travel transfers.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Chandon.