Lindsay McCall has rightly got an impressive contacts book for someone who makes such world renown wine. There’s Sir Ian Botham for the cricket, and now winemaking partner with the new Botham Wines series, or top Australian wine critic, James Halliday, who has described McCall as having “an exceptional gift for winemaking,” which is a good quote for the CV. Come and see for yourself at the Mornington Peninsula tasting in London on September 6.
Lindsay McCall has come an awfully long way as a winemaker considering he has had no formal training. But it’s not held him or his Paringa Estate winery back.
Next month sees 10 of the leading wineries and producers from Australia’s Mornington Peninsula region make the trip to a series of events including its key London trade tasting on September 6. As well as Lindsay McCall at Paringa Estate will be founders and winemakers from Polperro, Crittenden Estate, Kooyong, Mooroduc Estate, Ocean Eight, Polperro, Port Phillip Estate, Stonier, Ten Minutes by Tractor and Yabby Lake Vineyard. All showing their styles of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Shiraz that are synonymous with the peninsula.
Over the next few weeks leading up to the tasting we will be featuring each of the producers involved. Here’s Marco Gjergja, owner of the Kooyong winery, and his take on the region and what it has to offer.
Tell us a bit about the winery?
We are a small family owned vineyard and winery run by myself, Lindsay McCall and my son Jamie McCall. Our home vineyard in Paringa Road was planted in the mid 1980’s with 2018 being our 31st Vintage.
Paringa Estate now has 20 hectares of vineyard growing predominately Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but with smaller quantities of Pinot Gris and Shiraz. Wine writer James Halliday describes us as having “an exceptional gift for winemaking,” and describes our wines as being of “the highest quality, with a distinguished pedigree”.
We are very proud of this achievement given we had no formal education in winemaking. In the James Halliday Australia Wine Companion 2007, Paringa Estate was awarded “Australian Winery of the Year”.
Jamie McCall joined the winemaking team in 2012, after completing winemaking and viticulture at the University of Adelaide, Waite Campus. He has been put in charge of winemaking at Paringa Estate in 2017 following five home vintages and one abroad in Oregon USA focusing on pinot noir.
What types of wine are you making for export and why?
We are making wines that reflect our cool maritime region and the individual sites they are from. Our philosophy is to make single region wines that truly reflect the uniqueness of the Mornington Peninsula.
What do you think makes the Mornington Peninsula unique and worth telling the world about?
The Mornington Peninsula is a fantastic place to grow cool climate grape varieties in particular Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. Our region is an hour drive south east of Melbourne and a small Peninsula of land surrounded on 3 sides by ocean water including the great Southern Ocean to our South. These water bodies have created a true maritime climate, keeping our maximum summer daytime temperatures between 5 degrees and 10 degrees Celsius cooler than other neighbouring regions.
These cool growing conditions combined with our diverse soils helps produce our Mornington Peninsula terroir. While each producer celebrates their own individual terroir, this is still within the framework of an identifiable Mornington Peninsula terroir. Our wines styles are delicate but fruit-expressive.
What makes it different to other Australian wine regions?
The cool maritime climate is the main point of difference between most other Australian regions which are considerably warmer and less suited to growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Parts of Tasmania have similar cool growing conditions and are producing high quality wines reflecting their individual region terroirs.
What perception do you think UK buyers have about Mornington Peninsula?
Having sold wines in the UK for the past 10 years, I believe the buyer and enthusiasts that have come into contact with Mornington Peninsula wines see them as high-quality specialty wines. Our challenge as a region is to get enough wines in front of enough people and wine educators, enthusiasts that it registers. Travelling to a large international market like London as an individual producer results in marketing your own brand first and the region second. Your success depends largely on the strength of your brand and individual wines.
What do you hope to achieve by the tasting and events in London and UK in September?
I hope that our unified region visits with strong producers, which is a follow up to our May 2016 roadshow and 12 producers, will further extend our reach into the London and wider UK market. Our masterclass and walkabout tasting event at Australian House on September 6 is the central event, however, other tastings and events will allow us to reach many people who may not be familiar with Mornington Peninsula Wine
Which types of importers and restaurants in the UK do you think your wines are best suited to and why?
We currently have an importer Hallgarten Druitt & Novum Wines who currently represent Paringa Estate in the UK market. For Paringa Estate wines they concentrate on the on-premise / restaurant and independent retail market. Because our wines are relatively high value and limited in volume this is the only market sites that suit us. Our sales within the UK in the last 12 months have grown pleasingly.
Why should a UK buyer come and visit your stand?
To have a good friendly chat and hopefully enjoy our Paringa Estate wines and know that our wines are currently available in the UK – albeit though limited outlets.
What sort of export prices do you have?
Our retail prices in the UK are below which are distributed by Hallgarten Druitt & Novum Wines.
- Pinot Gris £19
- Three Chardonnay’s at £26, £35 & £45
- Three Pinot Noir’s at £27, £55 & £90
- Three Shiraz’s at £26, £43 & £67
What other markets do you export to?
China is our biggest export market with the UK second in dollar terms. We also export to Denmark, and the Ukraine in Europe. In Asia we export to Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
We have been approached by distributors in all other markets to sell our wines. We are particularly active with our Chinese distributor due to the potential for growth in this market.
What opportunities do you think there still are for premium wines from Australia?
I think there are still great opportunities to market our premium wines both within Australia and to the rest of the world. The Australian Government Export Development grand helps offset our large travel costs to visit our export markets which is essential if you are to grow your market. A developed market like the UK while very competitive still offers opportunities while emerging markets like China offer great opportunities if you can find the correct importer and channels to work through.
What are you most looking forward to about coming to the UK?
From business point of view: Spending a few days working in the London market with my distributors reps visiting existing customers and potential new customers. Being part of the Mornington Peninsula Roadshow allows me to be part of a regional push to hopefully give more recognition within London.
From personal point of view: Visit London which is always fun. Catch up with long time wine friend Sir Ian Botham for a day at an England versus India test match (I’m a cricket tragic!). Head to Italy for 10 days holiday with a visit to Barolo on the way back to Australia.
- If you would like to meet Lindsay and taste his wines and the other producers then the Mornington Peninsula Winemaker tasting takes place between 1pm-5pm at Australia House, The Strand, London, WC2B 4LA.