After being immersed in all things Pinot Noir for the past few days, it was now time to pack our bags (briefly) and move out from the swanky surrounds of the RACV Cape Schack and into our Air B&B home situated just down the road (and close to the beach) in Capel Sound.
This made us ideally situated to spend a few days exploring the Mornington Peninsula and its wines in a bit more detail. It was great to get out and about, and in some cases, drive along narrow dusty roads, taking in great views, in order to reach one or two of the local producers we had pencilled in to taste, once again, their wines.
Our first stop, on what was a wet and windswept day (home from home almost), which was in contrast to the day before whereby we had been blessed with fabulous sunshine (something not so home from home).
Anyway, this in no way was to dampen our spirits, as this was the first ‘proper’ day of our Aussie Wine Adventure! And to get things off to a great start, we had decided that Ten Minutes By Tractor would be a fair bet.
Having tasted much of their range last year at the roadshow event at Australia House and had been re-acquainted with their Pinots during the Pinot Celebration, it was good to go over some of their other wines once again.
The main building is currently out of use due to a fire last year, so we were instead guided to a temporary dwelling just up the road.
Their Zero Dosage Blancs de Blancs 2012 is a real treat, linear, nervy crispy edges, great depth and precision. As is their Judd Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2016 – precision was the word that kept popping into our heads – so clean, fresh and vivid. The Coolant Pinot Noir 2016 with its luxurious spicy fruits, wet earth and tension, had us coming away from our first estate with a sense of euphoria.
By now, the weather was improving as we headed for Montalto, here we grabbed lunch in their already very busy restaurant, and after our tasting, we took a pleasant walk around the vines to take a closer look at the many sculptures dotted around the site.
The Estate Riesling 2018 with its pleasing zest and floral tones, and the Montalto Single Vineyard ‘Merricks Block’ Pinot Noir 2016, with its brooding berry fruits, earthy notes and spice, really did the trick. And we couldn’t forget the Pennon Hill Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2018 – so much textural pleasure, backed by tropical fruit flavour and a fresh tangy finish.
Next we swung by the Paringa Estate, which is situated in a quiet valley with its very own micro-climate.
The 2018 Estate Viognier offered finesse and freshness in support of it nectarine fruits, the 2013 Estate Pinot Noir gave us earthy, savoury notes, again with an underlying freshness, backed up with floral tones. But the winner for us that day was the crunchy red fruits and white pepper laced Peninsula Shiraz 2017.
The rain had returned by the time we reached the Yabby Lakes Winery, but we were soon inside its cosy restaurant and tasting area. Their 2016 Single Vineyard Chardonnay with its lifted citrus, blossom and a hint of flint presented tension that run along some very nice curves. And next it was their rosé that really floated our boat, and perhaps helped as the sun was once again beginning to show itself. This Single Vineyard Pinot Noir Rosé 2018 was all about fresh watermelon, rosehip and cranberry juice, nice indeed. And finally we had the pleasure of the lingering Single Vineyard Syrah 2017. With vines planted back in 1998, this little number offered freshly pressed blackberries, dashed with hints of white pepper with a creamy oak edge toward a lasting finish.
We then left to have a stroll amongst the sculptures (we were now beginning to see a bit of a Mornington vineyard pattern here).
With the sun by now making a very welcome appearance, and the overall temperature outside once again rising, it was nice to find ourselves in the cool and tranquil tasting room at the Moorooduc Estate.
The resident peacock was nowhere to be seen, probably good for the peacock, as our 3 year old son would have probably have taken a shine to him, by that we mean; chasing him.
Anyway, back in the tasting room, and our attention was caught with the Pinot Gris on Skins 2018. Looking every bit like a rosé, but looks can be deceptive! This was a wine with strength, even muscular, we might say. Embraced by dusty tannins and cut through with watermelon freshness – this packed a punch.
We enjoyed several of their Pinot’s side by side, with the savoury, herby, lifted and crunchy 2016 Garden Pinot Noir really making its presence felt. And finally finishing with the brambley spicy 2015 McIntyre and taught Shiraz.
We ended our brief foray of the wines of Mornington Peninsula by stopping off at Port Phillip Estate.
Futuristic, almost brutal in design, but once through the doors it lays open to a glorious vista of the surrounding countryside and vineyards. Thus, enticing you to take a seat outside on the veranda and simply spend a little time simply doing nothing. Truly magical.
Talking of which, so where the wines, and so pleased that we ended as we had begun, with such great wines, tantalising the senses, much as they had all day.
Enjoyed was the musky, curvy, textured Quartier Pinot Gris 2018, alongside the Estate Red Hill Chardonnay 2018 bursting with ripe stone fruits that took centre stage, embraced in smoothness and lifted freshness – a pure delight. Finally, we rather liked comparing the 2016 and 2018 Massale Pinot Noir, which is produced by Kooyong, who have their own vineyards and winemaking facilities at Port Phillip.
The 2018 presented itself with plenty of juicy raspberry fruit encased in a pleasing warmth, bright and crisp along a spicy edge. Whilst the 2016 had depth, and broader shoulders, with dark cherry fruit, cranberries and white pepper.
We came away from Mornington, with very much the same impression that we had got from the tasting at Australia House last summer. Except we would now like to add to that ‘sense of place’, a ‘sense of community’ as well.
As it was apparent to us from the onset, that this is really a close community of like-minded people, who have grown together, as well as, at times, struggled together. And now they are able to let us in on what treasures they really have.
Our short but very memorable time spent here, is one in which we were made to feel for a brief moment, part of that community.
What is reflected in the wines from these parts is also reflected in its people.
We shall be back.
Part 2 will see us in the Hunter Valley!