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Wine Companion Spring 2014

The Magic of Mornington

It’s not hard to see the attraction of the Mornington Peninsula. Just an hour from the Melbourne CBD, this beautiful part of Victoria manages to feel like the countryside, even in the face of the ever-expanding city.

Still, as Melbourne has grown and evolved, so too has the Mornington Peninsula, with the vineyards and wineries changing from weekend hobby projects into serious businesses. In turn, the nature of the vineyards has changed too – gone is the misguided focus on Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux varieties, replaced by an increasing attention on fine Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with the odd smattering of Shiraz and Pinot Gris for interest. Despite such evolution, the top producers include many of the same names from 20 years ago, with estates like Main Ridge, Paringa and Stonier still producing top wines, joined by the likes of Kooyong, Yabby Lake and Ten Minutes by Tractor. Moreso, the Mornington experience has evolved too, now complete with great breweries (Red Hill Brewery), great cheese (Red Hill Cheese) and fine dining (Stillwater at Crittenden).

This is a stunning part of the world, with the wines to match.

Top Mornington White Ten Minutes by Tractor Wallis Chardonnay 2011

2011-Wallis-Chardonnay(Mornington Peninsula, Vic) 13%, Screwcap, $65

‘The best worst vintage we ever had’ Campbell Mattinson.

If ever there was a wine to attest to just how good the best 2011 releases are, it is this Chardonnay.

Produced by the detail focused Ten Minutes by Tractor, there is a purity and elegance here that perfectly fits a cool and wet vintage – it’s what you’d want your Chardonnay to look like in 2011. Think whipped cream, white flowers and grapefruit, the palate lean, long and sculpted like a long distance runner, stripped of fat, leaving a racer underneath. It doesn’t have the sunny richness or power of the 2010, and indeed it is snappy and very dry, yet the length and vitality make it an absolute winner.

Drink: 2014 – 2019
Would I Buy it?: In a heartbeat
Score: 95/100

Such a lean and aciddriven Chardonnay isn’t going to be for everyone, but I loved this. Standout Chardonnay.

Drinking Pinot Moorooduc Estate Pinot Noir 2012

Moorooduc-Estate-Pinot-Noir-20101(Mornington Peninsula, Vic) 14%, Screwcap, $35

The standard ‘Estate’ Pinot Noir, this is intended to be the juicy and approachable, if complex too – a real wine of delicacy and power. Fittingly, it smells of red cherry fruit and carries slightly softer tannins compared to the single vineyard wines. Still, that is a very high bar and this looks absolutely delicious – the red fruit complemented by a hint of hedge, cinnamon spice and black pepper. What elevates the quality is the finely drying finish, taking this from just a wine of fruit into a much more complex beast (if still about 1-3 years off its best).

Drink: 2014 – 2019
Would I Buy it?: Yes
Score: 94/100

Superb Mornington Pinot.

Top-shelf red Montalto Main Ridge Block Pinot Noir 2012

SV-Main-Ridge-Block-Pinot-Noir-2012(Mornington Peninsula, Vic) 13.1%, Screwcap, $65 Sourced from the oldest Montalto block (planted in 1990) at the higher, cooler part of the peninsula, this is closed, smoldering and structured. Easily the most complete wine of Montalto’s single vineyard wines with the most staying power – a real step up in concentration. Really impressive balance between red fruit and drying tannins. Lovely, classic Mornington Pinot Noir needing very little – potential to score even higher in 12 months time.

Drink: 2014 – 2019
Would I Buy it?: Yes
Score: 94/100

An utterly impressive wine.

One from the Hunter Gundog Estate Hunter’s Semillon 2014

2014_hunters_semillon(Hunter Valley, NSW) 11.8%, Screwcap, $25

This was one of the highlights from a quick stop at the Gundog Estate cellar door – a smart wine from a smart young winery. A great small cellar door it is too, complete w/ great beer and coffee. Built deliberately riper than the ‘classic’ Hunter style, with fruit picked a little later, this Semillon carries a juiciness and vibrance that is particularly attractive, the traditional green apple supplemented by a little passionfruit and quince.

Drink: Now for best effect. Will live though.
Would I Buy it?: If my house wasn’t already full of wine there would have been some of this following me home from the Hunter
Score: 92/100

Importantly, there is well enough acidity to keep everything in check, ultimately making for a Cinderella Semillon that is utterly smashable,

Andrew Graham About Our Reviewer

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2009/10 WCA Wine Journalism ‘Young Gun; Wine Judge; Gourmet Traveller WINE and Breathe Hunter Valley magazine contributor; LattéLife columnist; National Liquor News Tasting panellist and Chablis lover who fell into the liquor industry chiefly to buy cheap beer. Over a decade later and I’m still here, now studying towards a Masters of Wine Technology and Viticulture, and still spending all my money on beer and wine.

For more reviews visit my site the Australian Wine Review at which is dedicated to talking about my obsession – everything vinous…