The text books (and the traditionalists) would have us believe that the best place to grow Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes are on the hallow soils of the top producers in Burgundy. But there are plenty of other areas of the world that are now giving top class Burgundy a run for its money. None more so than the maritime conditions that make Australia’s Mornington Peninsula so special, argues local producer, Marco Gjergja of Kooyong winery.
There are few wine regions in the world that are surrounded by water on three sides, but it is the influence of the sea that makes Mornington Peninsula so special says Kooyong’s Marco Gjergja.
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 Sam Coverdale at Polperro will be founders and winemakers from Crittenden Estate, Kooyong, Mooroduc Estate, Ocean Eight, Paringa Estate, 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 some background about your winery?
Kooyong Wines is a specialist Pinot Noir and Chardonnay producer which we think are the ideal varieties to be planted for what is Australia’s foremost cool climate maritime wine growing region. We are passionate about our biological viticultural practices and sensitive minimalist winemaking which produces site expressive wines of elegance, complexity and structure.
The vineyard and winery were established in 1996 and is owned and operated by the Gjergja family. The winemaker is Glen Hayley. The majority of the 40 hectare site is planted to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with a small block of Pinot Gris. All wines are estate grown, vinified and bottled.
What do you think makes the Mornington Peninsula unique and worth telling the world about?
The Mornington Peninsula is strongly influenced by the weather patterns of the Great Southern Ocean. The surrounding water and the cooling winds from the South, East and West combine to provide a climate ideal for growing Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.
Vineyard altitudes range from 40 to 250 metres. Soils vary considerably and include the red volcanic soils of Red Hill, the sedimentary yellow duplex of Tuerong, brown duplex of Merricks and the sandier clay loam of Moorooduc resulting in a patchwork of diverse meso climates.
Regional production is small and the vineyards and wineries are mostly family owned and operated.
What perception do you think UK buyers have about Mornington Peninsula?
We have observed a burgeoning interest in premium cool climate wine from Australia and the Mornington Peninsula. Which is why we are so keen to be involved in this trip to the UK in September and chance to show our wines at the London tasting, and other events we are organising, so that we can increase awareness of our region in general and highlight our role as a producer.
Hopefully buyers will be interested in better understanding the diversity and quality of Mornington Peninsula wines and the specificity of the wines from our vineyards.
We want to share our passion for our region and our wines and hope wine drinkers from around the world discover the excellence and particular characteristics of our vineyard and wines.
We have to give a big thank you to UK sommeliers and wine drinkers as it is our main export market. Our other target areas are Canada and Singapore.
Which types of importers and channels in the UK do you think your wines are best suited to and why?
Given our small focused production fine dining restaurants, premium on-trade and independent and specialist off-trade customers.
What sort of export prices do you have?
The Kooyong Chardonnay retails for between £22.50 – £35, whilst the Kooyong Pinot Noir is £22.50 to £42.50.
What opportunities do you think there still are for premium wines from Australia?
We are ambitious to continue to shift the perception of Australian wine and deepen UK’s buyers and wine consumers understanding and appreciation of the dedication of small Australian wine producers to growing and making premium world class wines.
What are you most looking forward to about coming to the UK?
From a business point of view: Travelling with our fellow vignerons to share our wares with UK buyers and consumers that are passionate and curious about fine wine.
From personal point of view: Returning to one of the world’s great capital cities and one of our favourite cities in the world.
- If you would like to meet Sam 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.