Mornington Peninsula musings

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.

morn day trip 1

morn day trip 2

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”.

 

Snippets, again

Maybe not thematic, but these fragments deserve a note; on the cork front, an unusual  run in the past six months yielded only 2 wines affected by taint or obvious oxidation–  a “meagre” 3.7%. Not many industries would accept this level of wastage. The degree of TCA in both wines was amazing- textbook examples.

  • 1993 Craiglee Chardonnay – replaced
  • 1996 Baileys Shiraz – no response from winery

And quick notes follow about wines that impressed

2015 Tolpuddle Chardonnay 12.5%
“Full malo” is a phrase that normally makes me run away, but served masked (of course) this Coal River valley (Tasmania) wine astonished. It’s a modern melon and smoke style- such as Oakridge or Seville Estate- cashewy oak, mineral-drenched fruit and the Tasmanian acidity powers through this utterly delicious wine.
From the Shaw and Smith stable, it’s around $60 a bottle retail – I ordered 3 bottles on the spot. Wonderful, and will hold for quite a while.

2015 Wynns Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 13.5%
This is the 60th release of this label; a few years ago, I tasted the 1960, 1965, 1966 and 1972; there is no doubting the longevity of the style; its affordability makes it deservedly popular among wine-drinkers (not just unicorn-collectors). This release is ripe, beautifully manicured and balanced; blackcurrant and other dark fruits, chalks; it flows gently, deliciously and juicily along. Lovely, with a huge future. Coonawarra, and unforced.

2012 Giant Steps Applejack Pinot Noir 13.5%
This is a wine that nearly won the notorious Jimmy Watson trophy, but there was insufficient volume. At  5 years old, this  Yarra Valley wine has time on its side. Its amazingly fragrant, with small, succulent, sweet red berry scents, plus seasoned oak. The palate shows much more ripe strawberry, and again the oak is present, somehow making a savoury impact. But where this wine stands out is for its prodigious, long-lasting, ultra-refined finish. Another 5 years at least, and 95 points

2002 Seppelt St Peters Shiraz 14%
Wonderful wine. Cork was not the greatest visual composition, but no travel.
2002 was a cool year in Victoria, and this wine is special. My records indicate I paid $35; some key notes; the colour is deep black/red, and there is no browning even at the rim; the wine is beautifully poised with vibrant, intense fruit, oak very much a background factor. Its ripeness is spot-on; blackberry, mixed spices and mocha, some very faint herbal tannin bitterness, and just powers along. Easy, hedonistic drinking, and will remain so for another 15 years – or more. Instant gold medal score, and another example of Grampians Shiraz seduction.

1995 Guigal Hermitage
From a great year in the Northern Rhone; power+, ripe +, slinky old-vine mouthfeel. Dry herb, chalk, iron filings and spices, powdery tannins, touch of bitterness. At plateau and another 10 years will not tire it. Outstanding, 94 points

 

And a few rarities from a very special dinner

2002 Bollinger RD disgorged 24/6/2014
Served at a “just right” temperature in appropriate glassware (flutes are NOT proper stemware for Champagne, any kind of tulip-shaped glass is better). It’s a light straw colour; Immediate sense of class. There are scents of pastries, fruit tingles, strawberries dusted gently with icing sugar (the Pinot dominance roughly 60/40 is felt); a touch of oak/chalk/cream, a touch of almond. Then the palate lights up with exuberance, tiny bead, and the flavours just linger on, the wine seems bone dry (4 g/l is very dry even for a prestige champagne). This is just a wonder, so sensual and so compelling- finally it just powered along with more nuances with each refreshing sip. A wine that could accompany many foods, and was not elbowed aside by a truffled croquette. 96 points.

1990 Trimbach Clos st hune Riesling 14%
Approached with some trepidation as a bottle tried in 13/5/2013 unexpectedly threw me in to delivering a perfect score.

Was I delusional? Would another bottle disappoint?This wine from Alsace has a bright clear gold colour; but amazingly, almost pungently floral. Light honey, lemon peel, bottle age, flint ripeness. Palate, silky, fluffy, candied dried fruits, flint, stone, mineral. The magic combination of richness and freshness.

Another 20 years in sight. 98 points.  (Notes were similar)

1990 Jaboulet Hermitage la Chapelle 13.9%
Everyone’s favourite in a bracket of 3 Hermitages including 1990 JL Chave and 1990 Chapoutier Ermitage Le Pavilon, and so easy to love. Very dense colour, with trivial bricking; barnyard, earth, butterscotch, then the palate runs rampant with dark cherry, tar and more earth, some smoky, dried meaty aspects. Oak is entirely vanished, we’re left with a slinky vinous old-vine palate of fine, fine tannins. Memorable and contemplative – mature wines don’t really come better.
Drink to 2040, 98 points

Chardonnays at Oakridge (Yarra Valley, Victoria)

Oakridge has just picked up a few trophies for Chardonnay at the recent  Melbourne Wine Show. David Donald very knowledgably walked me through a terrific selection of the Oakridge wines.

Oakridge has the luxury of releasing perhaps 6 different Chardonnays, from several sites, and blocks within these sites. The “864” range sits at about twice the price of the LVS (local vineyard series. All the wines are made from the same clone, no malo, and are low-oaked. This does not mean they are mean or lean.

The 2013 Willowlake Chardonnay showed neat melon-rind aspects, but the 2013 Guerin had more energy, fluffy texture and citrus drive. I was contemplating purchase until I tried the multi—trophy 2013 Barkala ridge; apart from the gunflint araomatics, it had more density, savouriness and a pebbly saline edge, while still clearly Chardonnay. Very fine and an easy buy ($36). My usual Oakridge “go-to” is Lusatia Park, but its not released yet.

Two different 2013 “864” Chardonnays, “Lusatia” block A, and ”F&D drive block” came next. I admired them side-by-side; both with defined minerals, length and citrus, I preferred the more embryonic and less funky Lusatia, but both sit in the vanguard of Australian Chardonnay, and at $75 (or less if careful) are fairly priced.

The track record of the age-worthiness of these wines (I have recently drunk 2006 and 2009 examples), and compelling ongoing  wine show results are encouraging – and well-deserved. If you haven’t experienced Oakridge Chardonnay, “do yourself a favour”.

After this display of Chardonnay brilliance, any wines to follow would truly be a let-down, but the “864 Lusatia Park” Pinot Noir was a flashy floral macerated liqueur cherry style, and the 2014 Shiraz was an exhibition in wild red berry and raspberry; fine chocolates and a tow of fine tannins lurking.