Thanks to the generosity of Sommeliers Australia and the Mornington Peninsula Vignerons Association (MPVA- and its very detailed website), I attended a day trip to improve my understanding of the wines, vintages, geography and winemakers of the region. Kudos to the winemakers for making time and wines available, and their preparedness to field questions from our group.
The group tasted (at speed) a range of current, near-future, and museum stock wines. The natural acidity usually provided plenty of energy and ageing potential. As expected, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir provided most wines tasted.
My takeaways were
- A cool, maritime climate with large water bodies (Bass Strait, Westernport bay, Port Phillip Bay) nearby, plantings from near sea-level to 300 meters, and varying soli types, there is ample scope for grape-growing variations, even before winemaking philosophies and techniques come into play.
- Vines (now) have enough age to provide richness and flavour depth
- There are thoughtful winemakers employing a range of techniques and trying to maximise the distinctiveness of their sites
- With Chardonnays, divergence between full malo and no malo approaches, but both were successfully employed
- Many comments about wild yeast, clones and there is a lot of experimentation
- 2015 was generally regarded as an excellent year, some support for 2016 too, 2017 very good, 2018 a large crop but excellent quality (at this early stage)
Its probably cruel to single out highlights, but standouts for me
- 2012 Yabby Lake single vineyard block 1 Chardonnay; bright, tangerine, lemon curd, stonefruit, with many years ahead
- 2017 Stonier Chardonnay; a wine made in amazing quantities, but layers of chalk, honey, creaminess and energy, a tribute to winemaking techniques and blending of batches at a bargain price
- 2017 Quealy (musk vineyard) Pinot Gris; Pear, texture, lemon drop, plenty going on
- 2010 Kooyong Farrago vineyard Chardonnay; in its prime, a lovely, juicy, supple, grapefruit style, a delight that was hard to spit out
- 2016 Port Phillip estate Morillon Pinot Noir; rhubarb and energy in abundance
- 2016 Kooyong Ferrous vineyard Pinot Noir; earth and plum, supple and seductive
- 2016 Moorooduc Robinson Pinot Noir; (project wine) fleshy, foresty, plummy, dark fruits
- 2016 Paringa Pinot Noir (project wine); sweet fruit, fresh and utterly delicious
- 2010 Eldridge Estate Pinot Noir; soft but opulent
- 2015 Paringa estate “the paringa”; amazing mouthfeel, with a balance of chew and finesse
- 2015 Ocean 8 “aylward” Pinot Noir; fragrance and power, some purple fruits in the mix. Low cropped but unforced
- 2016 Moorooduc Robinson vineyard Pinot Noir; raspberry, dark cherry and sensual
- 2016 10 minutes by Tractor McCutcheon vineyard Pinot Noir; sweet fruits, fleshy, smashable but with serious intent.
Apologies for the lack of photos and their quality, I had some technology challenges!
The wines, scenery and proximity to Melbourne make the Mornington Peninsula a “really-should do”.
2010 Ch La Tour blanche 14% (sauternes)
80% Semillon, 15% Sav Blanc, 5% Muscadelle, 130 g/l rs
A chateau that overdelivers on bang-for buck, there is stonefruit, barley-sugar, just-ripe apricot and cumquat. Oak plays in the background and this is delicious.
93 points, and irresistible to 2025, or longer.
2007 Joh Jos Prum Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslese AP29, 7.5%
Ripe red apple, petroleum, minerals.Crunchy, some fruit rind notes too on the palate, bracing, lovely tingly, pebbly drive.
The 2007 Mosel Rieslings have emerged from their shell and are providing rewarding hedonistic drinking
92 points, and drink to 2030 or beyond
2004 Ch Climens 13.5%, (Barsac)
Glue smells accompany apricot cream and almond. Very sweet, but with a some bitterness too. It had the misfortune to be contrasted with the next wine, and while this half-bottle was eminently drinkable,
86 points. Perhaps an underperforming bottle.
2005 Ch Doisy-daene 14% (Barsac)
Another VFM producer, and the wine shows nutmeg and cinnamon spices, pineapple and vanilla. Classic palate length, with sweetness and acidity just right.
93 points, and drink to 2028.
The widely declared 2016 Portuguese Vintage ports have seen numerous positive reviews, many mentioning their fruit richness and surprising early approachability (albeit with maturation to come over the next few decades). I took the opportunity to visit a heatwave 2003 wine, another generally declared vintage year.
Quinta do Noval is well-known for its Nacional vintage port – which I have never tasted- and their earlier-drinking Silval, but the wine reviewed is their standard model. These wines are imported into Australia by Bibendum, and are widely available. Noval follow the beat of their own drum, with recent vintage ports released from 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016; whereas most other houses only declared 2011, 2015 and 2016.
The cork has done its duty, the colour of the wine is a very solid dense red, with some bricking on the rim. The bouquet is ultra-complex; mulberry, liqueur cherry, plumcake spices, green olive, almond, blueberry and cocoa. The palate is an elegant full-bodied style; flavours coat the mouth, there is the tension between blue, red and black fruits. Blackcurrant is in the mix now with red liquorice. The fortifying spirit has melded, the super-silky tannins are present within the swathe of rich ripe fruit.
At this age, the wine is generous, juicy, approachable and delicious, but has the stuffing to mature with grace for another 20 years.
An easy 94 points, and drink up to 2035.
From a half bottle, the cork shows some wine travel- no qualms; the label is cellar-scuffed, but the contents are much more important.
The colour is bright gold, with abundant, tantalising stewed apricot, cinnamon spice, pineapple and dark honey. This is class! Reinhard and Beate Knebel (Mosel, Germany) have no trouble delivering wines with an abundance of richness, but with the harmonious balancing acid to provide delight.
The palate is palatial and unctuous (with 190 g/l of residual sugar, somewhat atypically abundant for an Auslese, but I am not complaining). Apricot, quince, honey, wrapped with cinnamon and faint vanilla pod spices. Fresh and smooth, from a fairly typical recent Mosel vintage, this is a startling reminder of the lush featherlight excellence of a sweet Riesling, full of flavour with modest alcohol.
Match with a fruit platter or by just by itself for delightful contemplation.
Drink to 2030, 95 points and I am jealous of anyone that has some bottles remaining.
This a wine that is meant to be a gift – there is an elaborate, impressive box, a striking, weighty bottle and a hefty price in Australia – around $80-$90. And its not a gift to decline, even though I purchased it from curiosity. It’s sealed with a very ordinary cork, but there is a glass stopper included in the package.
The wine claims a minimum average age of 20 years, and its home is the Barossa Valley of South Australia (although doubtless blended from many parcels from different areas and grape varieties). One of the curious crafts of this style is to ensure the blend is not merely old, but also maintains vitality and freshness. The description “rare” reflects not merely the age, but the quality level. It’s an expensive exercise to hold wine for so long in barrel, with winemakers having to be somewhat circumspect to their book-keeping regime. Old fortified wines are a luxury, low-volume line that -whether in small companies (or even large concerns like Penfolds)- include a nod to winemaker whimsy and tradition.
The colour of the wine is a bright amber/khaki, and there are graceful spice notes, honey, vanilla, caramel and crackling autumn log-fire notes. The fortifying spirit has been sensitively selected and has melded extremely well. The palate is effortlessly balanced with some dried fruit raisins, caramel and vanilla again, plus figs and clean citrus-led acidity to tidy matters along. The persistence of flavours is extensive, and of course the combination ensures resistance to further tasting indulgence is futile.
Overall, this a a super Australian example of this style.
Once opened, this wine is ready to drink – over several weeks, and deserves 95 points.
Another enjoyable wine from the upper Nahe in Germany. From Stephen Reinhardt‘s terrific reference book “The finest wines of Germany” comes the tribute that the family has “maintained parcels in the steepest sites…and restored a number of top parcels that had been abandoned for decades…since they were suitable neither for mechanisation nor for high yields”, ending with Werner Schonleber’s claim that “quality comes from torture”.
Fruhlingplazchen translates as “Spring’s little place” and is mainly blue slate.
This wine is a deep gold colour, exhibiting ripe apricot, yellow peach skin, and quince aromas. The palate is unctuous and honeyed, with a touch of tropical pineapple, plus cinnamon spiciness. There is a strong line of mineral and a delicious persistence. Notes from the importer reveal the wine has 113 g/l of residual sugar, in balance with its acidity. Altogether lovely.
From the half-bottle, drink to 2023 and 94 points.
This wine is still a clear and bright pale straw colour, with voluminous aromas of petroleum, kiwi-fruit, green melon, lime, some waxiness, and a touch of camphor too.
The palate is poised and effortless, concentrated , with more lemon and light tropical flavours added to the mix. Its the kind of wine that puts me on high alert as it slides along and teases the senses, freshness and balance a key attribute.
Fritz Haag is one of the top Mosel estates, and this wine was a lovely example of Riesling with some bottle maturity, and naturally capable of much further aging. My suspicion is that the residual sugar level is around 80 g/l.
Drink to 2028 and 93 points.