Mornington Peninsula Wines Of Australia: Majestic Victorian Burgundies With Equally Majestic Views
by Ken Gargett
Most good wine regions in Australia are delightfully scenic (sorry, Coonawarra, but at least you make terrific wine). But few are quite as picturesque as the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Australia. Located just to the south of Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city, it is easy to visit for a day trip, but much more fun to stay a few days.
The region focuses on the Burgundian varieties, pinot noir, and chardonnay, but offers much more as well: shiraz, pinot gris, the odd sparkling, and an array of other varieties.
Concentrate on the wine but there are fantastic resorts, including several that are part of well-known wineries. There is also great eating – again often at the wineries – and lots more to do.
Mornington Peninsula is next to the ocean; fishing, boating, surfing and swimming are all popular.
Most wineries – there are more than 40 in the region – are reasonably small as are the many vineyards. Sadly for non-domestic lovers of great wines, this means that many of the finest offerings are not seen overseas, or if they do make it then only in tiny quantities.
Australians, however, do get reasonable access to most. And a visit is almost compulsory if one wants to enjoy the best. And the vast majority of Mornington Peninsula wineries are happy to welcome visitors at cellar door.
Any list of must-visits inevitably excludes worthy contenders, but here are a couple of wineries that are Mornington Peninsula stars.
Main Ridge Estate commenced making wine in the mid-1970s, making it a regional pioneer. Nat and Rosalie White set standards to which others have long aspired. In 2015 the Sexton family took over, and the wines remain some of Australia’s finest.
Ten Minutes by Tractor is the wonderfully named estate owned by Martin Spedding; the vineyards, of which there are about 35 hectares, are around ten minutes apart by tractor. There are a number of single-vineyard wines, both pinot noir and chardonnay, as well as estate wines – something that can be said about many of the wineries on the Peninsula.
The wines are exemplary, and it seems that they are just that little bit better every year. Ten Minutes by Tractor also has a brilliant restaurant with an amazing wine list stretching far beyond both its own wines and those of the region.
Yabby Lake Vineyard is another with superb wines and a number of single-vineyard releases. Run by highly respected wine judge Tom Carson, this is one of the flagship wineries of the region.
Hurley Vineyard is a small specialist pinot producer with the usual range of an estate wine and several single-vineyard offerings. Garamond is probably the star of the portfolio. It is a wonder any wines are ever made here as the owners, Kevin Bell and Tricia Byrnes, are two of the busier people in Victoria. Bell’s day job is as a judge on the bench of the Supreme Court of Victoria and president of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, while Tricia is a senior solicitor.
Polperro is run by the charismatic Sam Coverdale and offers a range of single-vineyard wines: pinot noir and chardonnay, but also pinot gris. There is also fabulous accommodation and an excellent restaurant.
Eldridge Estate in the Red Hill subregion is run by David Lloyd, who is always keen on a little experimentation, often along with good friend George Mihaly from Paradigm Hill. His are some of the older vines in the region, and as well as pinot, he is a gamay specialist.
The aforementioned Paradigm Hill offers a number of different wines, but it is with pinot that the excitement is to be found. Ruth Mihaly is well known as one of the best cooks on the Peninsula.
Lindsay McCall at Paringa Estate has earned a formidable reputation for his cool-climate shiraz, but, as with most wineries in this region, his pinot noir and chardonnay are both not to be missed. And Paringa Estate offers yet another wonderful restaurant.
Moorooduc Estate, established by Dr. Richard McIntyre back in 1982, is one of the region’s leading producers. McIntyre now works with his daughter Kate, a master of wine, and the wines go from strength to strength.
Stonier hosts an annual pinot celebration in either Sydney or Melbourne looking at great local wines as well as top burgundies and pinots from other international regions, and it is a testament to the quality of its wines that almost every time one of its single-vineyard pinots is considered among the very best on show (all done blind, of course).
This list merely scratches the surface, but every pinotphile will find something to love.
There is no better way, however, unless you have a week or two to spend in the region, of exploring what is on offer than by attending the biennial Pinot Celebration Australia held at the RACV Cape Schanck resort.
While the focus is always on the fabulous local pinots, there is always a contribution from other Australian and international regions – this time celebrating Tasmanian pinot and the burgundies of Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair. It involves a series of masterclasses, tastings, lunches, and dinners.
Full details of the February 8-9, 2019 program, costs, and the opportunity to book can be found at www.mpva.com.au/events/detail/Pinot-Noir-Celebration.