Moorooduc Estate is an Australian winery on the Mornington Peninsula, a region around an hour south of Melbourne that stretches out between the Port Phillip Bay on its western coast and the Bass Strait on its southerly and eastern sides.
All this water is key to the cool, maritime climate, making it a perfect region for growing world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The cooling breezes from the water stop the vines from overheating and provide a long growing season, allowing the grapes to ripen fully. Mornington has become a real hotspot for food and wine in the region and is also famous for its hot springs as well as its wine.
The whole region leans towards the ethos of spending more time in the vineyards and less in the winery and this is certainly the case at Moorooduc. Winemaker and founder Richard McIntyre is fastidious in his approach, both embracing and challenging tradition to create truly outstanding wines.
Moorooduc was established back in 1982 when Richard and his wife Jill spotted the potential of the region. Richard wanted his wines to express the terroir of the region and one of the ways he did this was by mastering wild yeast fermentation. Rather than buying particular yeast strains to help to build flavours, he chose to rely on the natural yeasts present when the fruit is first crushed and in the winery itself.
Now Jill heads a regular Sunday lunch at the cellar door, where she focuses on using local, organic ingredients to create a menu which pairs with the Estate's wines. Daughter Kate, who at first was reluctant to visit the winery as a child, is now one of less than 500 Masters of Wine in the world and a leading expert. Her influence can be seen in the range too. After a trip to Italy, she spent three years trying to convince her father to produce a Pinot Gris on skins. Now, it's an integral part of the portfolio, providing something different to the Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays whilst embodying the same ethos.
The McIntyre vineyard is around 5 hectares and the family lease around 14 hectares more across another 4 other vineyard sites, creating estate wines from a blend of these sites alongside their more premium single vineyard wines. Whilst we currently import the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Robinson Pinot Noir, we have some of the famous Pinot Gris on skins coming on our next shipment and will be looking to add more of the wines to the range moving forwards. They have an excellent single vineyard Shiraz which would be cracking with a BBQ. Maybe for next summer…
The fruit for the Estate Chardonnay comes mainly from the family's own McIntyre vineyard with a little coming from the neighbouring Robinson vineyard. All grapes are hand harvested with whole bunch pressing and 100% wild yeast fermentation then takes place in French oak barrels, 20% of which are new oak. The wine then spends a further 10 months ageing on the lees (dead yeast cells) in the barrels. All of these factors help to create a Chardonnay that is elegant, yet powerful and full bodied. There's an abundance of complex flavours - from lemon citrus and white peach to toasted brioche, salted popcorn and sweet spices.
The Estate Pinot Noir continues the winery's philosophy of making most of the ingredients, with minimal use of chemicals in the vineyards and the aim of growing the best fruit they can. As with all their wines the Pinot is hand-harvested before being destemmed and undergoing wild yeast fermentation on skins for around 20 days. The wine is the pressed into barrels, all made from French oak and 25% of which are new. Malolactic fermentation takes place naturally, converting the zippier malic acid (think fresh green apples) into creamier lactic acid (buttery flavours). The wine then spends around 17 months ageing and developing in the barrels before being blended back together and bottled. There's a fantastic purity of fruit here with intense red cherries and violets, an earthiness and hints of liquorice and spices. The juicy, plush fruit is balanced with crunchy acidity, firm tannins and a long finish.
Made in exactly the same way as the family Estate Pinot, it's interesting to taste and see the difference when comparing a single vineyard wine to the blended Estate bottle. Here there's still an abundance of the pure, slightly tangy red cherry fruit, but the savoury elements really come to the fore. There's dark cocoa and a slightly sweet cured meat character. The tannins are silky smooth and perfectly balanced with the crunchy acidity. A fantastic expression of the terroir of the Mornington Peninsula and a wine that will continue to develop over time or in a decanter for a few hours over the course of dinner.
Moorooduc Estate, Pinot Gris on skins - coming soon!
The brainchild of Kate McIntyre, following her trip to Italy and years of asking her father to create a wine on skins. The result is truly exceptional. The Pinot Gris is all hand-harvested before being destemmed and fermented with the grape skins for around 19 days. This extracts the soft pink colour, tannins and texture which really make this wine what it is. The grapes are then pressed and the wine is put into older oak barrels for around 10 months, on the lees. This is just fantastically layered, with floral aromas of rose petals and violets with fennel and pickled ginger, poached rhubarb and crunchy red plums. A festival of flavours and complexity with just the right amount of tannin and acidity on the finish. After trying this wine earlier in the summer, we are really really excited for it to land with us.
There's some classic food pairings to be had here.
The Chardonnay being ripe and juicy with that creamy complexity cries out to be paired a rich, meaty fish dish such as hake with a brown butter sauce.
The Estate Pinot is extremely versatile and could work with a fattier fish dish such a salmon - or would be ideal with a herb roasted chicken and roast potatoes.
The Pinot Gris with its spicy, pickled flavours and light tannins could be the perfect accompaniment to a spread of sushi and sashimi.
The Robinson Vineyard Pinot we've recently showcased at a supper club with our good friends at the Butchers Quarter here in Manchester, where we paired it with Lamb Noissette, stuffed with pesto and crushed pine nuts and seasonal vegetables. It went down a storm.