For as long as I can remember, Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula has been revered for its stunning coastline, pristine beaches, rugged clifftops and golf courses – but not least of all, its pinot noir.
If you’re a lover of wine, the district would be well and truly on your radar when searching for an affordable alternative to French Burgundy. Or perhaps a zippy pinot gris (think Ten Minutes By Tractor) or pinot grigio (the Italian style of the same grape).
And while I think their local pinot noir is very good and quite distinctive, I can’t help but feel that they’ve got it all wrong; because the Mornington Chardonnay is up there with the best that this country produces, and should be up in flashing lights as the region’s headline act.
I appreciate that minds will differ on these issues, and no two palates are the same, but the region’s chardonnay undoubtedly offers great value from the quaffers to the high end cellar bound releases.
After Beechworth in the north of the state, I reckon that the mantle of second-best chardonnay region in Victoria rests with either the Yarra Valley (love the Punt Road wines), or the Southern Peninsula and the Red Hill/Mornington region. And if you need proof of the quality of the local offerings, just take a look at the big-name brands that source their fruit from the region or simply base themselves there – brands like Kooyong Estate, Red Claw, Montalto, Stonier and Paringa Estate. They’re all making world-class wines, and chardonnay in particular!
For reasons that I don’t understand, chardonnay isn’t the King (or Queen) of white wines; at least in so far as consumers are concerned. But since the over oaked, and later, the under oaked styles have slipped off the charts, Australian winemakers have found a delightful balance in the styles that they are currently putting on the shelves.
Partial oak exposure and part malolactic (secondary) fermentation has found a happy medium and the fruit from some regions rivals the quality seen in the famed Burgundian vineyards. The balance between fruit, oak and texture is an entirely different proposition to those wines that Cath and Kim regrettably made famous.
It was during a (pre-coronavirus) visit to Harry’s on Buderim that I first made acquaintances with the Scorpo Aubaine Chardonnay 2018. It was sold by the glass, so sampling was never in doubt. It surprised with a greenish tinge in the glass which suggested a likely tightness of fruit on the lips, but nothing could have been further from the truth! On the nose there were hints of honeydew melon and honeysuckle, but once on the palate the outspoken nectarine and Granny Smith characters were chattering in all their glory. It’s not the creamy secondary ferment type of chardy that overwhelms with voluptuous mouthfeel, but does offer a racy acidity and a flinty chalkiness on the “clean as a whistle” finale. You can find the Scorpo in bottleshops at $30 – $35 a bottle and I reckon that’s ripper value!
I’m not downplaying the quality of the Mornington Peninsula pinot noir (or gamay and pinot gris for that matter), but if you’re a devotee to the chardonnay style, it’s a region that will have a lot to offer your (clearly) discerning palate!