Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Focusing on Mornington Peninsula

On to the bus again for the second day of the James Busby tour. The Mornington Peninsula was our next focus and the first host of the day was winemaker Sandro Mosele from Kooyong (where the wild ducks gather) winery, owners of Port Philip Estate. With over 1000 hectares of vineyards and around 60 cellar doors the Mornington Peninsula is one of the most well known regions in Australia for producing Pinot Noir. Surrounded by Port Philip Bay, Westernport Bay and Bass Strait, the Morning Peninsula has a unique maritime climate with different soils structures attributing to the different styles of wines produced.

The region is sub-divided into two regions; Up the hill and Down the hill. As the name suggests, Up the hill has cooler site climate due to elevation producing rounder wines with more minerality and savoury characteristics whilst Down the hill produces wines of a more robust, elegant and assertive structure. Sandro Mosele gave us a clear outlook of the region and then proceeded with a very interesting tour of the vineyards and the winery. The vineyards were planted after rigorous testing and mapping of the soil in order to save time and money experimenting with different vineyards for different sites. Sandro also explained the increasing effort to reduce berry size to around 0.7grms other than the average size of 1.2grms to add tannin and structure to his wines. The wine is given as much freedom as possible during fermentation with open vat fermentation, natural yeasts and no pumping over used. Cold extraction of around 7 to 8 days led up to a slow alcoholic fermentation. Around 18 months of barrel ageing for the reds always using the revered French oak. Remarkably both William Downie who we visited on day 1 and Sandro look down on American oak and quoting Sandro “it is only good for furniture” gives a clear cut statement on his view about American oak.

After visiting their new bottling line which was the latest investment together with the cellar door and restaurant we started our first tasting of the day. The tasting was held in their bistro which overlooks the stunning Kooyong vineyards. Starting off with a Pinot Gris 2009 which was more of Pinot Grigio in style with floral and almond notes on the nose; nice refreshing acidity on the palate. The Chardonnays followed; Port Philip Estate 2008 which had a very citrus character, broad yet elegant; the Farrago 2008 which had more apple and pear nose, fuller on palate with a lasting minerality; the Faultline 2008 which like the Farrago is a single vineyard wine featuring mostly stoned fruit and hints of butter on the nose, delicate and subtle and the lastly Kooyong Estate showing interesting expressions of butteriness and nuts on both nose and palate.

The reds all coming from Pinot Noir yet again showing different styles according to vineyard location and winemaking techniques used. The Meres 2008 was light, sappy and full of fragrance; the Haven 2008 had maraschino cherries on the nose with good depth on palate; the Haven 2009 had more lifted aromas with more structure and density on the palate; the Ferrous 2005 had complex earthy notes with good vibrant fruit still present on both nose and palate; the Kooyong Estate 2000 was my favourite introducing more liquorish fruit on nose, ageing gracefully.

After such an interesting overview of the region and an insight about the various styles of wines produced from the different sites we headed off to a smaller winery Ocean Eight. Unexpectedly we were greeted by oysters and sparkling wine; a Champagne sensation that all made us smile. For me this visit was exceptionally interesting since Mike Aylward took us through some barrel samples of the different Pinot Noir clonal selection he uses for his Pinot Noir. Immediately I felt challenged by the tasting since I am rather unfamiliar with both barrel samples and mostly barrel sampling of different clonal selection. Mike uses 3 clonal selections all contributing different aspects to Pinot Noir. Clone 115 had a very interesting perfumed violet nose with good structure on the palate. Clone MV6 (a Clos Vouguet pre- phylloxera clone) cropped at 1 tonnes per hectare had more structure and richness on the palate whilst clone 114 had more subtle red fruit texture coming through. These 2 clones give the right balance and depth in texture for the Aylward Pinot Noir Mike is seeking to produce. Tasting the Aylward 2007 you can then notice how all these characteristics come together as the jigsaw puzzle becomes more complete.

Like an artist a winemaker has different colours with which to paint his canvas; clones, soil texture, rootstock, French and American oak, screw caps and corks, sulphur, acidity levels and ph levels. Which to choose and how to make use of these tools is completely up to the winemaker as long as the final result reflects the grape variety and the distinct style of the region.

No comments:

Post a Comment