The Port Phillip Estate vineyard is located on the Mornington Peninsula at Red Hill, on Eocene volcanic soils. Our wines are made from domain grown, handpicked grapes and aim to manifest terroir: the integration of our geology and soils with the macroclimate of our region, the mesoclimates of the various sites within our vineyard and the weather of the annual grape growing season. Our cultural operations in the vineyard and practices in the winery endeavour to articulate these unique characteristics diligently, respectfully and without artifice.
September 2015 welcomed the beginning of budburst leading to a dry and warm spring. October was 3 degrees above the average temperature and El Niño affected the amount of rain we received. Vine vigour was controlled due to the lack of rainfall with the canopy generous and open. Fruitfulness was up from the previous vintage and flowering and fruit set occurred unhindered. Veraison commenced in early January.
The period between January and mid-March was warmer than historically usual and harvest began at the same time in February as recent vintages. Conditions remained very dry and warm throughout the harvest period, it was a compact vintage finishing in mid-March. The viticultural team worked steadily throughout harvest and delivered healthy and energetic fruit, with ripeness and acidity well balanced.
The Chardonnay block at Port Phillip Estate’s Red Hill vineyard consists of three parcels. The largest section (1.3 hectares) is the oldest, at 27 years. A smaller planting of 0.3 hectares was added seven years later. A third, as yet unproductive, area of more closely planted vines was established in 2013. The Red Hill vineyard is dominated by red basalt, yet the Chardonnay block is planted in an area of sandy grey loam over yellow clay. The site has deep soils with great water-holding capacity, so the vines require very little irrigation throughout Summer. The block’s position – on a hill that slopes East towards Western Port Bay – allows the sun to hit the vines as soon as it rises, giving them maximum sunshine. The East-West row orientation protects the fruit from the afternoon Summer sun, allowing it to ripen in a cooler environment. The cool evenings of Red Hill’s maritime climate and cold air flow down the hill help maintain the wine’s hallmark acidity. The grapes were gently whole-bunch pressed directly into French oak barriques (15% new) and fermentation commenced without inoculation. After fermentation the wine was aged on lees (without battonage) for 11 months. It was bottled without fining and with minimal filtration.
The 2016 Port Phillip Estate ‘Red Hill’ Chardonnay begins with a calm and refined nose that offers a fragrant combination of nectarine, quince and ginger spiciness. Fleshy white stone fruit flavours lead into an energetic palate that culminates with a deep chalky finish.
Everything is here and there is plenty of it. Polished and complex with wild winemaking notes of struck flint and well judged use of oak complexity to create a generous wine with detailed richness. The palate is harmonious with a wild ferment dryness holding the fruits middle and centre through to the finish. This appealing wine offers a lot of intensity.
Stonefruit, wheatgerm, spice, fresh pineapple, intense ripe grapefruit flavour and acidity cut through, with a milky and lightly chalky texture, and pow pow powerful finish. And that’s about all you need to know, I think. Ripper.