A brief insight into the Peninsula today.
Pinot Unearthed is dedicated to looking at how Pinot Noir manifests itself in the five sub-regions as set out by our team. These can all be found in the tasting notes and in the sub-regional areas of the website, but more background needs to be given on the region as a whole.
The Mornington Peninsula is a relatively young wine producing region, although history tells of vineyards planted in the 19th century. It is not really until the early 1970s that the Baillieu Myer vineyard hailed the coming of the modern era for one of Melbourne's favoured tourist and Pinot Noir destinations, closely followed by a handful of enthusiasts, many Doctors and academics. Their desire and belief that the Peninsula could one day make some of the great Pinot Noirs of the new world did not happen overnight, but it certainly is happening today.
There are a number of factors at play when you consider the diverse array of offerings from this region, as it is a playground for those "Melbournites" wanting to take time away from the hustle and bustle of the city, without having to go too far to do so. This drives land prices through the roof, and makes viticulture an expensive exercise, where only high quality wines at high prices are going to be able to receive an appropriate return on investment. Therefore it comes as no surprise that the Peninsula offers some of the very best examples of Pinot in Australia, and unfortunately some of the worst. Happily this is changing rapidly, as the region and it's producers mature in their understanding of what it takes to make great Pinot Noir.THE SOILS
The soil types vary widely from the quite sandy soils in the more northern stretches around Dromana, to yellowish brown and brown soils over friable well-drained clay. In the cooler higher altitudes of Main Ridge and Red Hill red soils of volcanic origin can be found. There are many variations on these soils with some vineyards having a notable presence of ironstone and other elements adding their fingerprint to the way the varieties express themselves.THE CLONES
Historically speaking the clonal argument continues unabated, with every theory imaginable being put forward, proved, discredited and then proved again. This supports the idea that there is no 'correct' answer, just a whole lot of different variables that need to be taken into consideration. The workhorse of the Peninsula has been MV6, and was for a while quite unfashionable and given over for more fashionable clones such as 114, 115 and 777 to name a few. MV6 has come back with a vengeance, and continues to perform well in varying terrains.
Some top drawer producers are also producing lovely wines with the incredibly unfashionable D5V12 and G5V15, and so it no surprise that many producers, just like their Burgundian counterparts, are opting to put together a selection massale, that either improves the overall quality of a vineyard's production, or blurs the clarity a single clone may provide, depending on your point of view. This is certainly just one of the many areas for contention around Pinot Noir production around the world.MOVING FORWARD
The Mornington Peninsula Vignerons Association
is a progressive regional association, and has implemented the Mornington Peninsula International Pinot Noir Celebration (MPIPNC)
bi-annually since 2007, in an effort to raise the profile and awareness of this wonderful variety in their region. Such luminaries have included Jancis Robinson MW
, James Halliday
and DRC's Aubert de Villaine
to name a few, while in 2011 the Burghound himself, Allen Meadows
will be the guest of honour. This recognises the unmistakeable reality that the region will hang its success in moving forward on Pinot Noir, not discounting the fact that many other varieties are top-notch performers as well.
Under the current President Sandro Mosele, the direction of trying to distinguish different sub-regions has been an on-going issue, and while the political push and pull of different members inhibits a quick resolution, it seems a resolution will one day be found. In addition to this, the implementation of a Mornington Peninsula Wine Industry Best Practice Guide seems to be a positive step in ensuring a united vision for producing top quality Pinot Noirs today and in to the future.
A map of the producers who are members of the MPVA can be viewed HERE.
2008 Complete Best Performers Report
In 2008 our tasting of the Pinot Noirs of the Peninsula turned out a very satisfying 40 medal standard wines from the 66 submitted. This is a very high standard indeed, and shows just how important the region is for producing some of Australia's finest examples of Pinot Noir.
The complete report of all of the wines that were worthy of an award can be found at the link below.
There are, as always, some notable exceptions, but the point must be stressed that these wines were assessed on one day at a given point in time. It is not possible for all variable of closures, bottling dates and the like to be taken in to account.
The Pinot Unearthed team does their best to ensure that each and every wine submitted is given due respect, and as this project matures, the team will get better at managing the difficulty the process proposes.
Our thanks go to all of the producers who have submitted their wines, and for those that do not receive scores of award standard, feedback will be given to them via their regional association.Agree with us? Disagree? We'd love to hear your thoughts about the report on our blog. Click HERE to join the conversation
» Pinot Unearthed Issue 1 - 2008 Mornington Peninsula
2008 Mornington Peninsula Vintage Report
Below is the brief, yet concise vintage report as produced by the MPVA. Interesting reading.
MPVA 2008 Mornington Peninsula Vintage Report
"Generally a favourable growing season with no drastic weather events and quality crops slightly above regional average weights. Growth in the spring was steady with vines showing no ill effect from the dry nor frosts of 2007.
Weather was generally warmer and drier than in the previous year until some timely rainfall in December that 'freshened' canopies and gave more weight to the very good set in bunches across varieties. Some extended moderate weather in December with more than usual humidity and cloud cover saw powdery mildew taking hold in some vineyards causing some commercial losses.
Vineyards with dense canopy and poor airflow were the worst hit. LBAM and mites were only isolated in their incidence and downey mildew was well controlled. Botrytis was generally not an issue due to the excellent dry weather in February with most crops again coming in around two weeks ahead of the 'norm'.
Harvest commenced with fruit ripening in a wonderful condition, ripening quite quickly in upper areas; many reports of Chardonnay fruit looking the best ever; and Pinot Noir fruit as good as in previous years. While it did get quite hot towards the end of the growing season, this did not cause extreme problems. Both reds and whites were of a high standard and should produce wines that will continue to the raise benchmark for the Mornington Peninsula."
Thanks to the MPVA
for use of their internal vintage report.