No Ocean Eight is not one of the ‘Ocean’ heist movies you’ve missed out on. Its one of 10 leading wine producers in Australia’s Mornington Peninsula that are travelling to the UK in September to take part in what will be the second showcase trade tasting showing the UK industry what wines can be produced from this unique maritime wine region. Founder and winemaker Mike Aylward explains why he’s so keen to come…
The Ocean Eight winery is typical of what the Mornington Peninsula can offer in terms of cool climate, maritime wines focusing on Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Whether you have been on a wine buying trip to Australia or not, you will be aware of Mornington Peninsula even if you could not place it on a map. For those that have been will know its position jutting out into the sea just south of Melbourne makes it not only a wonderful place to visit, but a great place to make wine.
But it is still a long way away which makes the London trade tasting on September 6 featuring 10 of the leading producers of the region such a potentially fascinating event. Alongside Ocean Eight will be winemakers and founders from Crittenden Estate, Kooyong, Moorooduc 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. Here Mike Aylward, winemaker and founder of Ocean Eight, explains why he is coming and what he wants to show.
Tell us about your winery, a little bit of the history and where you are now?
Ocean Eight is a family owned vineyard and winery, owned by the Aylward family. We have been growing and making wine on the Mornington Peninsula now for over 20 years.
Probably the best person to sum up what we do is the leading Australian wine writer and critic, James Halliday, who wrote: “Ocean Eight produces small quantities of high quality wine. Grapes are handpicked from Ocean Eight’s 15 hectare vineyard and wine is crafted in small batches at their gravity fed winery in Shoreham. Controlling the process from grape growing, winemaking through to bottling helps Ocean Eight work towards producing quality Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris year in year out.”
What types of wine are you making for export and why?
I really want to show off the characters that the Mornington Peninsula region delivers in its wines. The region is unique in its soil profiles and cool Maritime climate and these features lend towards very elegant styles of wines. There is an underlying freshness and elegance in the Ocean Eight wines that we could not produce in any other region in Australia.
What do you think makes the Mornington Peninsula unique and worth telling the world about?
The Maritime climate of the Mornington Peninsula makes this a very unique region in Australia for producing wine. The winds coming off the water chill the region and give amazing freshness and elegance to our wines. There are very few regions in the world that can grow the temperamental pinot noir grape, so we are fortunate to be able to produce this variety.
What makes it different to other Australian wine regions?
Very elegant wines not big, bold wines. Our wines are also fantastic food wines with complex subtle dishes. For me, we are a real restaurant brand over a retail presence.
What perception do you think UK buyers have about Mornington Peninsula?
UK buyers that have visited the region would all appreciate how beautiful the region is. I still think it is not on the map to date as a serious high-quality wine growing area, but we can make up this ground very quickly with the calibre of wines we will have on show for the road show.
What do you hope to achieve by the tasting and events in London and UK in September?
First and foremost, we are there to develop a very strong regional presence by delivering a very clear quality message on our wines. If our region can become well known in the UK market, then all our brands will have long term success in the market. We think our wines are particularly well suited to restaurants, the on-trade and wine clubs.
Why should a UK buyer come and visit your stand?
To have 10 different producers from the one region should be a great incentive for anyone to come. It’s a great opportunity to taste all the producers’ wines and try and determine and define a style for Mornington Pinot Noir and Chardonnay especially. We also make a Chardonnay (Verve Chardonnay) that has an amazing likeness to the cool region of Chablis.
What sort of export prices do you have?
We retail in the UK for £35 for both our Chardonnay and Pinot Noir through our distributors Hallgarten Druitt & Novum Wines.
What other markets do you export your wine too?
Our main export markets at the moment are Japan and the US.
What opportunities do you think there still are for premium wines from Australia?
I think there is a massive potential for high quality Australian Chardonnay. Also, Pinot Noir commands a higher price point due to the difficulties of growing and making this variety.
What are you most looking forward to about coming to the UK?
- From business point of view: I’m excited to be promoting our region and sending our message to as many wine professionals and passionate drinkers as possible.
- From personal point of view: I love seeing Ocean Eight listed on a top wine lists in the UK market. It gives me a real buzz.
- The Mornington Peninsula Winemaker tasting takes place on September 6 between 1pm and 6pm at Australia House, Strand, London WC2B 4LA. You can register to attend here.