Wine Reviews

Gunnamatta Pinot Noir 2018

Very pale in colour, this pinot noir from the Mornington Peninsula has aromatics of strawberries and red fruits. The palate is fresh with ripe red fruits and a restrained bearing. Ready to drink now, this is a youthful and approachable style of pinot noir. Rating: Good. Abv: NA. Price: $20s. Website: NA. Reviewed: December 2019.

Wine Reviews

Ten Minutes by Tractor 10X Pinot Noir 2018

This is another good 10X pinot noir release from Ten Minutes by Tractor on the Mornington Peninsula. This leading producer always offers a wealth of useful regional vintage information. Specifically, the 2018 vintage saw a late budburst (20 September – two weeks later than 2016), a warm spring, perfect conditions at flowering (24 November compared with 11 November in 2016 and 5 December in 2017) and consequent good yields coupled with an early harvest (17 March, compared with 1 April in 2016). Overall, it was 10X Tractor’s shortest ever hang time of 179 days from budburst to harvest.

In the glass, the 2018 10X pinot noir is a vivid red in colour, and has a smokey, minerally aroma. The palate is quite fruity, with good length, and displays a balanced expression of cherries and spice. It gained complexity with time in the glass – a good sign. Overall, this is a good release that can be approached now. Rating: Good. Abv: 13%. Price: $34. Website: Source: Sample.

Wine Reviews

Main Ridge Estate Chardonnay 2013

This is the second Main Ridge Estate wine tried in recent months, both good.  You can read the other review at this link.  Main Ridge Estate was one of the earlier Mornington Peninsula estates established in the 1970s, and as far as I can tell, was sold in late 2015 to the Sexton family.  The 2013 chardonnay tasted here, presumably crafted under the old regime, has an aroma that reminds of almond meal, refined French oak and orange rind.  The palate is refined, with mid range acidity and great length on the finish.  For (modest) details on the vintage conditions, you can look at the Mornington Peninsula Vignerons Association notes here.  Rating: Very Good. Abv: 13.5%. Price: $65. Website:

Wine Reviews

Ten Minutes by Tractor 10X Pinot Noir Mornington Peninsula 2017

Pale in colour, this Mornington Peninsula pinot noir – the entry level offering from Ten Minutes by Tractor – opens to aromas of wild herbs and redcurrant.  The palate is medium bodied with fresh chalky tannins and acidity, and good length on the finish.  This is great value at $34 and is Burgundian in styling. Rating: Good to Very Good. Abv: 13%. Price: $34. Source: Sample.

Wine Reviews

Ten Minutes by Tractor 10X Pinot Gris Mornington Peninsula 2017

The aroma of this pinot gris from Ten Minutes by Tractor in the Mornington Peninsula reminds of pears and spiced pears.  The palate is dry, full bodied and has attractive length.  Ready to drink now, this is a well made pinot gris.  Rating: Good. Abv: 13.5%. Price: $28. Source: Sample.

Wine Reviews

Ten Minutes by Tractor 10X Sauvignon Blanc Mornington Peninsula 2017

This is a complex rendition of sauvignon Blanc from Ten Minutes by Tractor in the Mornington Pensinsula.  It has a nutty and gooseberry like aroma.  The palate is firmly acidic, with a yellow grapefruit like linearity.  Ready to drink now, this wine can be approached over the next couple of years. Rating: Good. Abv: 12%. Price: $28. Source: Sample.

Wine Reviews

Ten Minutes by Tractor – 2016 single vineyard Mornington Peninsula (and Tasmania) pinot noirs

Ten Minutes by Tractor have again managed to produce a number of high quality, interesting and varied single vineyard pinot noirs, this time from the 2016 vintage.  This is a warm and early vintage in the Mornington Peninsula as outlined in my post on the whites (see here) and the vineyards are the same, with the addition of two.  The first is a Wallis single vineyard wine from a new region for this producer – Tasmania.  This seems to me a clever addition.  The Wallis Tasmanian wine is from a 0.3 hectare single vineyard site alongside the Tamar River north of Launceston.  The second single vineyard is from the Coolart Road vineyard, which is “down the hill” and closer to Hastings.  It’s the source of some outstanding wine in prior vintages.  Thoughts on each of the wines follow.

McCutcheon Pinot Noir 2016
This is a refined pinot noir with aromas of blackcurrant and leaf.  There’s good length on the palate and savoury cherry fruit.  A harmonious and refined wine that can be approached now.  Rating: Very Good. Abv: 13.5%. Price: $78. Source: Sample.

Judd Pinot Noir 2016
Yields are only 15hl/ha for this wine.  It opens to intense aromas of saturated red cherries and florals.  The palate is between medium and long length, and the palate is fleshy, with blackcurrants and leaf also predominant.  Quite Burgundian in styling.  Rating: Very Good. Abv: 13.5%. Price: $78. Source: Sample.

Wallis Pinot Noir 2016
Oh yes.  A complete pinot noir aroma with glimpses of rhubarb, blackcurrant, leaf, forest floor and red fruits.  The palate has acidity, length, a medium body, some light and very fine tannins and great length on the finish.  A classy, refined pinot noir that can be approached now and over the next 5 to 8 years.  Rating: Outstanding.  Abv: 13.5%.  Price: $78.  Source: Sample.

Coolart Road Pinot Noir 2016
This has some depth of colour, for pinot noir.  Its aroma is quite intense, with reminders of rhubarb, leaf and blackcurrants.  The palate is super youthful at the moment, with some CO2 and plenty of red fruits.  This is an attractive, enjoyable and forward drinking style.  Rating: Very Good.  Abv: 13.5%.  Price: $78.  Source: Sample.

Wallis Tasmania Pinot Noir 2016
This wine is completely different in character to the Mornington Peninsula pinot noirs.  Its aroma is more obviously fruity, with redcurrant, rhubarb, blueberry and earthy aromatics.  The palate has fresher acidity and more tannins than the Peninsula wines, but the fruit is riper and fleshier, but also has a savoury character and good length.  A lovely contrast.  Rating: Very Good.  Abv: 14%.  Price: $78.  Source: Sample.

Estate Pinot Noir 2016
Pale in colour, this has classic southern Victorian pinot noir aromas of strawberry and cherry.  The palate is medium bodied with length and balance.  Rating: Good to Very Good.  Abv: 14%.  Price: $48.

Wine Reviews

Ten Minutes by Tractor – 2016 chardonnay single vineyard and estate wines

Ten Minutes by Tractor provide a wonderful level of detail about their wines and I think rightly are a reference source for the Mornington Peninsula region.  Winemaking and viticulture aside, the key “macro” influences in this region are whether the vineyard is located “up the hill” or “down the hill” and the weather conditions of the vintage.  As a general comment, “down the hill” grapes tend to be picked first, sometimes 3-4 weeks earlier.  That said, the altitude in the region peaks at a somewhat modest 305m at Arthur’s Seat.

In terms of vintage, the 2016 vintage in the region can be summarised as warm, dry and early.  Ten Minutes by Tractor point to flowering 10 days earlier than average, a harvest date 23 days earlier than average, low growing season rainfall and 21 days shorter hang time than the average.  The “down the hill” wines were picked before the end of February, and the up the hill wines in the first week of March.  This is reflected in the approachability of these wines.

In this post, I have reviewed Ten Minutes by Tractor’s three single vineyard chardonnays and the “estate” wine.  The single vineyard wines are from the Judd Vineyard (up the hill, 206m, average slope of 6c, west facing), the McCutcheon vineyard (up the hill, 200m, average slope of 5c, east facing) and the Walls vineyard (up the hill, 142m, average slope of 4c, NE facing).  The estate wine is mostly a blend of the three.  The wines are all 14%abv.  All of the wines are very good.

McCutcheon Chardonnay 2016, $68
This presented as the ripest and fullest bodied of the single vineyard releases, with aromas of quince and yellow grapefruit.  The palate is full bodied, quite voluptuous and viscous in bearing.  A generous and plump wine that provides enjoyable current drinking.  Rating: Very Good. Abv: 14%. Price: $68. Source: Sample

Wallis Chardonnay 2016, $68
A yellow gold in colour, this wine has restrained aromas of nuts, lees and nectarines, with a sinewy, nutty cashew note predominant.  The palate is not quite full bodied and the acidity resoundingly very fine and firm.  Light on its feet and delicate in impression, this is the most elegant wine of the single vineyard releases and should benefit from short term cellaring.  Rating: Very Good. Abv: 14%. Price: $68. Source: Sample

Judd Chardonnay 2016, $68
More immediately approachable than the Wallis, this wine has aromas of struck match, light lees and sea salt.  In the glass, the acidity is fresh and less linear, perhaps a function of the partial malolactic fermentation (80%). The length is the longest of the group and the overall impression minerally and enjoyable.  Rating: Very Good. Abv: 14%. Price: $68. Source: Sample

Estate Chardonnay 2016, $44
This is $44 well spent.  Between lemon and white gold in colour, the wine has aromas of grapefruit, yoghurt and lees.  The palate is full bodied, but the acidity fine boned, which provides a good counterfoil to its viscous core.  Approachable now, it finishes with good length.   Rating: Very Good. Abv: 14%. Price: $68. Source: Sample

Wine Reviews

Five new release Australian chardonnays from five different regions

I tasted today through five Australian new release chardonnays, all blind, with prices ranging from $22 to $68. The average quality level in Australian chardonnay is very good indeed if you are able to spend $20 or more per bottle. The cooler climate regions of the Mornington Peninsula and Orange shone more brightly than the warmer regions, and Ten Minutes by Tractor’s Mornington Peninsula McCutcheon chardonnay shone brightest.

Huntington Estate Mudgee Chardonnay 2017
This wine has restrained aromatics that remind of lemon, pear and talc. The palate is dry, with firm acidity, a medium to full body, some depth of flavour, a heated spice expression and a medium length, warm finish. Rating: Acceptable to Good. Abv: 13.1%. Price: $22. Source: Sample.

Rowlee Single Vineyard Orange Chardonnay 2016
This wine has pronounced aromatics of lemon, nectarine, cedar and, initially only, smoke and struck match. There is some evidence of oak. The palate is dry, with medium to firm acidity, medium to full body, long length on the finish, and a mineral and crystalline character. From a hitherto unseen label, this is good drinking. Rating: Very Good. Abv: 13.5%. Price: $40. Source: Sample.

Ten Minutes by Tractor Chardonnay McCutcheon Single Vineyard 2015
This wine has restrained aromatics of almond meal and cedar and a golden colour in the glass. There is evidence of good quality new oak. The palate is dry, and the acidity quite linear and zingy. It has refined bones of lemon and minerals, a medium body, good length and quite a subtle bearing. This is an outstanding chardonnay release, and I was not surprised to see this very good producer’s name on the reveal. Rating: Very Good to Outstanding. Abv: 13.8%. Price: $68. Source: Sample.

Pig in the House Organic Chardonnay Cowra 2017
This wine presented with unusual and pronounced aromatics that reminded of dust and green capsicum. The palate is medium to full bodied. There is a roundness to the acidity, but it is not portly. Rating: Acceptable. Abv: 13%. Price: $25. Source: Sample.

Heggies Vineyard Estate Chardonnay Eden Valley 2015
This wine has restrained but primary fruited aromatics of stones, almond meal and lemon zest. There is some evidence of oak and the acidity is quite zingy, spritzy and almost a little hard. The body medium to full and the length quite subtle but persistent. This is a good chardonnay. Rating: Good to Very Good. Abv: 13%. Price: $31. Source: Sample.

Wine Reviews

Wine tasting: Pommard and Volnay Premier Crus

I recently attended an outstanding tasting of mostly recent(ish) vintages of premier cru level Pommard and Volnay wines. The quality was universally high across the board, and all well stored examples. In terms of observations, interestingly, neither appellation proved particularly distinctive on this tasting. Pommard is typically thought of as sturdy, masculine and full in style, while its immediate neighbour Volnay, more fragrant, elegant and seductive. Yet, this tasting proved to be more or less a random walk as to which wine was which, with no one feature proving distinctive. I put this down to a function of proximity of the regions, youth, high quality wines and high quality winemaking. Some may lament this apparent convergence. But I don’t, at least when not doing Master of Wine study – I prefer tasting delicious wine more than tasting palatable theory. Perhaps the texts will require re-writing in a couple of decades?
My notes, plus a couple of extras from outside the region, follow.

Domaine Marquis d’Angerville Volnay Premier Cru Caillerets 2008
Les Caillerets is a 14.36 hectare vineyard that is among the most highly regarded in Volnay. And, right off the bat, it was my wine of the night. It opens to aromas of dark cherry, rosemary, anise and potpourri. The palate has towards high acidity (but not quite), great length – wonderful in fact – and a beguiling expression of cherries with some firmer tannins tucked away. Outstanding

Christophe Vaudoisey Volnay Premier Cru Les Mitans 2005
Les Mitans is a 3.98 hectare vineyard closer to the Pommard end of Volnay and is reputed for sturdier wines. The 2005 vintage tasted here, an outstanding vintage, proved to have brooding aromas of dark cherry and licorice notes with an almost porty richness giving away its vintage. The palate is full bodied and rich, with good length and acidity in balance. Delicious and another outstanding wine. Outstanding

Domaine Joseph Voillot Volnay Premier Cru Les Frémiets 2005
Les Frémiets is a 7.40 hectare vineyard that is next to Pommard, making it particularly hard to identify as other than a Pommard. It’s another wine from the 2005 vintage, but presents quite differently to the Mitans. It has firm aromatics of cherry, iron and florals. The palate has great length, with notes of cherry and firmer tannins with time in the glass. Very Good

Comte Armand Pommard Premier Cru Clos des Epeneaux 2013
A strong producer and one of Pommard’s great vineyards (the 5.23 hectare Clos des Epeneaux) cloaked any likelihood that the vintage of this wine would be identified. This proved an utterly delicious wine, and should age and improve effortlessly for a decade or more. It has aromas of dark cherry, blackcurrant and leaf. The palate has firm acidity, flavours of black fruits and spice, together with particularly long length. Too young, but someone has to try them. Outstanding

Henri Boillot Pommard Premier Cru Les Rugiens 2012
Les Rugiens is a 12.66 hectare vineyard (aggregating Hauts and Bas) and is both highly regarded and close to the Volnay border. This proved another outstanding wine, with aromas of dark cherries, earth, iron and rosemary. The palate has reminders of florals and great length. The tannins are just starting to evolve. Outstanding
And finally, a couple of extras, first my favourite Chablis Grand Cru (Les Preuses) and a ring-in from the Mornington Peninsula that almost shocked with its remarkable resemblance to the preceding wines.

Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses 2010
This wine from Les Preuses (some considerably longer musings from the region are here) first had to escape its cool serving temperature. Initial aromas of qumquat and orange rind gave way with time to a more classic expression of lemon, stones and sea shells. The palate has good length, hints of cedar and fresh, if not overly firm, acidity. Very Good

Main Ridge Estate Half Acre Pinot Noir 2013
This is the first time I’ve tried a Main Ridge Estate wine, and I was frankly surprised (and absolutely delighted) at its close resemblance to a Pommard. It has aromas of blackcurrant and earth. The palate has long length and a cherry and earth character. This wine is unlike any other Mornington Peninsula pinot noir I’ve tried, and I’ve tried more than a few. Outstanding