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Last month in London the Australian Wine body has been going into overdrive with a whole host of imaginative tastings.Two weeks ago the light was being shone on nine winemakers from the lesser-known cool climate region of Mornington Peninsula that is producing some quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – but which were the standout wines and are they worth the price tag? It’s been almost impossible to cross the road in London this month without bumping into an Australian winemaker.Winemaker Kate Mc Intyre says 2012 was a “classic vintage…the aim here was balance and I think this wine shows this perfectly.” The Pinots were equally impressive.All nine were from 2016, a solid year which allowed the fruit to show through.The tasting that followed further demonstrated how well Mornington Peninsula has evolved with most of the producers showing a distinctive range of Chardonnay and Pinots, as well as some good Pinot Gris and Shiraz (Paringa’s Peninsula Shiraz is a prime, good value example).And there was a surprise – well, two – with Crittenden’s 20 Cri de Couer Savagnin.
And this is a place that punches well above its weight – output is equivalent to just 0.5% percent of Australia’s total, but quality is on an upward curve as growing vine age and improving viticulture add depth and complexity to the wines.
Little wonder then that although Mornington Peninsula isn’t well known beyond Australia (and much of the wines are consumed in the fine restaurants of Melbourne’s trendy suburbs like Carlton, Toorak, South Yarra and Malvern) several wineries have already achieved international acclaim.
These include Paringa Estate, whose Pinots have become world famous, and 10 Minutes By Tractor, so named because when it started operation 20 years ago it comprised three family vineyards that were literally ten minutes tractor journey from one another.
These were big, generous savoury wines, with the 2015 almost too much, 15.4% so just a tad more alcohol that you might find in Jura, but for someone like me who likes offbeat unusual wines, just too good to miss, though maybe too flamboyant for purists. “Australia has the world’s second biggest plantings of Savagnin outside the Jura because the cuttings bought in were wrongly believed to be Albariño.
But it works very well, I think,” says Rollo Crittenden. Mornington Peninsula wines aren’t cheap, even in Australia.
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Small volume and very high land prices have seen to that.