Few grapes incite as much emotion, or admiration, world wide as pinot noir.
Last week a small group of Vancouver sommeliers to taste through a dozen Mornington Peninsula pinot noirs. The wines aren't available in the Canadian market (yet) but were selected for inclusion in the Mornington Peninsula International Pinot Noir Celebration 2017, happening right now in Australia. Dr. Jamie Goode is the keynote speaker, and has posted his opening talk on Pinot Noir: the alchemy of people, place and time here.
The Celebration has been held in Victoria's Mornington Peninsula since 2003 to promote Australian Pinot Noir on a national, state, regional - and thanks to the interwebs - global level to an audience of 200 attendees, and a virtual audience of pinotphiles everywhere.
Vancouver was one of six international cities selected to taste these wines in advance of the Celebration, and video of each group was fed into the Mornington Peninsula sessions. The wines were tasted in order of altitude, from highest to lowest. My notes from the tasting are below.
Mornington Peninsula Primer
Gentle rolling hills and open pastures mark this tranquil region, close to Melbourne and a popular weekend getaway. There are approximately 200 vineyards and 50 relatively small wineries making up the region. Vineyards are planted to take advantage of the complex soils, with many variations affected by the maritime cool climate and the two unofficial subregions, "up the hill" which is approximately 250m in altitude, and "down the hill", which stretches nearly to the beaches. Soils range from sandy flatlands around Moorooduc and Tuerong, to pale brown alluvial soils at Dromana on the northern coastline, to the deep russet volcanic soils between Merricks and Balnarring and the south coast.
Plantings really started in the 1970's, but it wasn't until the 1990s that clonal selection took place and detailed soil studies were undertaken. From the beginning, vignerons were using their maritime climate to their advantage, focusing on pure-fruited, light bodied and aromatic wines and less reliance on new oak. Elegant, alluring and delicate pinot noir and mineral and flinty marked chardonnay are flagship grapes and styles.
Visit www.mpva.com.au for more on the region and wineries.