I recently made the journey down to Red Hill in the Mornington Peninsula and caught up with the dynamic Sam Coverdale. Sam is the owner, grower and winemaker of two relatively new Mornington Peninsula labels – Polperro and Even Keel. Polperro is the label used for his single vineyard offerings and Even Keel for his blends (of vineyards, rather than varietals). If I walked away with an impression it was this – Sam is across every single aspect of his wines – from pruning, picking, transporting, winemaking and elevage right through to bottling. And happily good attention to detail has its reward in wine.
Sam’s theory is that the Mornington Peninsula is the region of the single vineyard, where the location, altitude and soils of particular sites have more to say than perhaps even sub regional generalisations, which in the Mornington Peninsula can centre around altitude, rainfall, soil type, the degree of shelter from maritime winds and to a lesser extent latitude. While I think there’s some room to debate here, the single vineyard approach certainly stands to reason when you have hold of a couple of unique sites. In particular, Sam’s vineyards include the “Mill Hill” vineyard situated at 270m altitude at Arthur’s Seat and the Landividdy Lane vineyard in Tuck’s Road in Shoreham situated at 160m altitude.
|The ampitheatre like Mill Hill Vineyard at Arthur’s Seat, looking northwards.|
And the former vineyard in particular left a strong impression. The Mill Hill vineyard sits with a north facing aspect, in what is almost a natural ampitheatre. On a late autumn’s day, you could feel an extra bit of warmth gracing the bones as one descended from the road block vineyard to Mill Hill. And being the highest vineyard in the already cool Mornington Peninsula at 270m above sea level, with some streaks of granite running through it, I felt the chardonnay wines from this vineyard in particular wore a nice acidic frame that balanced some high quality fruit expression and a minerally edge. Excitingly, the latter character was something I spotted before I had visited the vineyard and therefore the charms of suggestion were unable to unfurl their tendrils. Organic production is the goal here, with minimal intervention practised.
Sam also sources grapes from the more windy and exposed (and slightly higher) “road block” vineyard adjacent to the Mill Hill vineyard in Arthur’s Seat and the Myers Road vineyard situated at the northern end of that road.
|The slightly more exposed “Road Block” vineyard, looking southwards.|
Time and again, I found myself thinking about these particular sites when tasting the wines, which has to be a success of sorts. Here are my thoughts on the current releases from the Polperro and Even Keel labels.
Polperro Mill Hill Pinot Gris 2012
Sure it’s an uncool thing to say, but pinot gris from the Mornington Peninsula works for me. This label sees the fruit handpicked from the Mill Hill vineyard, fermentation commenced with wild yeasts and the wine bottled with no fining and minimal filtration. The result is a crisp aroma of lime, pear and minerals and a palate with medium length, medium to high acid line and attractive lime and pear nuances. Ready to drink now, this is a good quality pinot gris. Good
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Polperro Mill Hill Chardonnay 2010
Even Keel Chardonnay 2011
The grapes for this wine are mostly sourced from the road block vineyard in Arthur’s Seat, with some Mill Hill and Myers Road fruit rounding out the blend. The 2011 has restrained aromatics of lemon, stone and talc. The palate has medium to high acid, and a predominantly linear expression of lemon and talc. This is a good quality chardonnay showcasing the slightly cooler road block site and will reward drinking over the next couple of years. Good
Abv: not recorded
Vendors: Check http://www.wine-searcher.com/
As a general observation, despite this set including three wines from the difficult 2011 vintage, careful selection seems to have achieved wines that do not have the dilute characters seen in many other wines that I’ve tasted from this vintage.
Even Keel Pinot Noir 2011
The fruit for this wine was sourced mostly from the Mill Hill vineyard (towards the trees), with the remainder from the Myers Road vineyard. It has aromatics of spices and cherry, with quite good length, red cherry, red plums, spice and a general air of balance on the palate. This is a good quality pinot that represents good value at its price. Good
Polperro Landividdy Lane Pinot Noir 2011
From the Landividdy Lane vineyard in Shoreham, this pinot noir has aromatics of spice, cherry and lifted floral notes. Its palate is savoury, with medium length, and a balanced expression of spiced cherries. This wine builds very well in the glass, and is ready to drink now and over the next few years. Good
Polperro Mill Hill Pinot Noir 2010
From the Mill Hill vineyard, the 2010 pinot noir presents with aromatics of spice and thyme, appearing particularly spicy. On the palate, it has towards long length, and expressions of blueberry and spice, with a pleasing acid line. This is a good to very good quality pinot noir, that is ready to drink now. Good to Very Good
Polperro Mill Hill Pinot Noir 2011
The 2011 vintage has aromatics of spice, sap, cherry, and herb bush. The palate shows riper cherry notes coupled by medium to long length and some good tannin structure suggesting some years ahead for this wine. Quite the wine considering the difficult vintage. Good
I also tasted through a number of barrel samples. While tasting barrel samples requires some care, the development of the 2012 and 2013 Mill Hill block chardonnays show considerable promise with some very attractive fruit. And I was also quite taken by a barrel of clone 114 pinot noir from the 2013 vintage that it would be fascinating to see bottled separately, if perhaps unrealistic given the small quantities involved.
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