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 was cold and wet and the predicted La Niña did not fully eventuate. The cold weather continued throughout October and November and the soils remained cool for longer than usual, resulting in a flowering period which was almost twice as long as usual. There was some reduction in fruit-set that resulted in lower than average yields.
Throughout the growing season disease pressure was quite high. While the season presented us with challenges, the diligence and hard work of the viticultural team ensured the health of our vineyards. We continue to produce our estate made compost and our fungal compost tea. Our knowledge of our properties continues to evolve, providing a strong foundation for future years.
Mild conditions and the occasional rain storm lengthened the harvest period. Picking concluded mid-April, for some of our blocks this was the latest they had been picked in over a decade. The wines are showing a finesse and coolness from the longer growing season, with great acidity and bright flavours.
This wine comprises fruit from five Pinot Noir blocks grown at our Red Hill vineyard. The oldest block was planted in 1987, with more planting in 1997, 2001 and 2007. These five blocks span over 10.25 acres (5.28 ha) of the 23-acre (10 ha) vineyard, grown in various directions in deep, sloping, red basalt soil, overlooking Western Port Bay. This results in each parcel having its own identity and growth characteristics. The fruit was fermented in a combination of large-format wooden foudre, concrete and stainless-steel tanks. Fermentation commenced spontaneously with ambient yeasts and lasted for 16-19 days. The wine underwent indigenous malolactic fermentation. The maturation period was 11 months in French oak barriques (of which 20% were new) and 3000 litre French oak foudre. The wine was then bottled without fining or filtration.
The 2017 Port Phillip Red Hill Pinot displays a vibrant crimson hue and reveals a perfumed mix of red florals, strawberry and blueberry on the nose, offset by hints of pine sap and allspice. Raspberry, citrus and red currant flavours gently fill the palate from start to finish. These flavours are complemented by a tight line of fine tannin that help drive the wine into a long, expansive finish. The depth, fine acidity and structure indicate good medium-term cellaring.
This is pinot noir for purists. It’s nicely ripened, carrying enough flesh and fruit, but all the while it’s built on structure, spice, acid, tannin, scaffolding, you get the drift. It’s a frame on which various flavour garments and highlights are draped. It feels sure, it smells perfumed, it drifts long, it’s light in a positive way. If I saw this, I wouldn’t hesitate.