On our recent trip to Australia one of the must-visit regions was the Mornington Peninsula, south of Melbourne. We heard great stories about the wine produced in this cool-climate peninsula surrounded by the ocean, but never had the chance to experience the wines made there. There’s only about 50 wineries and just under 2,000 acres of vineyard so you will find mainly boutique wineries run by dedicated and passionate owners.
The first vines were planted in the late 19th century, but as with most of the other Australian vineyards, all Mornington vineyards disappeared in the 1920s.
It was only until the 1970s that the first vines were replanted and it set the start of a new chapter of cool-climate wines produced in Australia.
A personal friend of ours recommended us to visit Port Phillip Estate, in Red Hill South. She was not totally unbiased as she used to work there and we were delighted that we followed her advice.
It is just over an hour’s drive from Melbourne to reach Red Hill South. As you drive into the carpark an impressive wall of at least 100 metres stretches along. Two large doors inside the wall give access to the restaurant. As soon as you enter, you will be amazed by the view over the vineyard.
The mysterious door leading to the restaurant and tasting room.
The tastefully decorated restaurant is immediately left, while the cellar doors are on the right. You can tell the architects and owner put a lot of attention the design of the building, not only the exterior but also the interior with an abundance of daylight to ensure all guests can enjoy the beautiful view. The use of natural materials such as timber and limestone combined with the modern interior gives a very luxury feel to the place.
View seen from the restaurant’s terrace
Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to have lunch so we decided to go straight for a tasting session instead. The knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff take their time to passionately explain about the different wines produced by Port Phillip, Kooyong and Quartier.
The owners carry three labels, namely Port Phillip Estate, Kooyong and Quartier. These labels share some fundamental principles. All the fruit used is hand pruned, shoot thinned and hand harvested and use of chemicals is kept to a minimum. The wines are wild fermented and additions used are kept to a minimum.
Port Phillip Estate Vineyard
The 10 hectares of vineyards of Port Phillip Estate are all located in Red Hill, which has a rich, volcanic soil and mainly consists of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay plantings although some Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc is also grown.
The Kooyong vineyards are located in the slightly warmer northern part of Mornington Peninsula and was established in the mid ‘90s. The winery is most famous for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and has gained a great reputation, particularly for the single vineyard Pinot Noirs. The Kooyong single vineyard wines beautifully express the different terroirs.
The wines under the Quartier label are made from fruit grown at the estate as well as from other vineyards in the region. Pinot gris, chardonnay and pinot noir is produced and are a good reflection of typical Mornington Peninsula wines.
Professional and helpful team members at Port Phillip Estate
After having tasted several of their wines at the cellar doors, we’d like to share with you what we felt were the best wines of each label.
Port Phillip Estate Red Hill Chardonnay 2016
Typical for Chardonnays in this area, it has a beautiful aroma of stone fruits, a beautiful balance between the acidity and the subtle hints of French oak. Nice body and a long finish filled with minerals.
Kooyong Single Vineyard Ferrous Pinot Noir 2012
Absolutely spectacular Pinot Noir which reminded us of some of the best Pinot Noirs we’ve ever had from Germany and Austria.
Very elegant and concentrated, with an aroma of cherries and spices. Nice minerality which we have seen in other Kooyong wines as well. We had the 2012 vintage and only wish we could buy more of it to keep some in the cellar and see how it develops in the years to come.
Quartier Pinot Gris 2016
A beautiful bouquet of apple, pear and other white fruit. Long finish, and we tasted some subtle use of oak alongside some chalkiness. Nice Pinot Gris and something different from the usual Pinot Gris’ you find elsewhere.
We had a great time at Port Phillip Estate and recommend anyone who is interested in the Mornington Peninsula wines to pay them a visit. The region is unique and offers some of the best and distinctive wines you can find in Australia.
If you want to find out more about Port Phillip Estate click here to visit their website.
Albert & Willem