If you really want to know what makes a wine region so special – ask a winemaker. Like Sam Coverdale who was drawn to Australia’s Mornington Peninsula after making wine throughout Australia and Europe. His reason is simple enough. Mornington Peninsula has it all from the micro climates, diversity of soils, maritime growing conditions to the fact small producers, like his Polperro winery, are the ones making a difference.
Sam Coverdale has gone to the Mornington Peninsula “to produce top quality, single vineyard wines that are organically and biologically grown using biodynamic principles”. That’s what he is now looking to do at his Polperro winery…
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 Sam Coverdale’s thoughts on not just his wines, the region, but what he hopes to show at the London tasting.
Tell us about some background about yourself and Polperro?
For over 20 years I had made wines throughout Australia and in Europe. I launched my first wine label, Even Keel, in 2006, based around showcasing the individual strengths of Australia’s wine regions with a small production of elegant and balanced wines grown in regions best suited to specific varieties.
In 2008, I moved to Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, lured by the surf and exceptional Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris of the region. After securing a number of vineyards in the region Polperro was launched the following year with a philosophy to produce top quality, single vineyard wines that are organically and biologically grown using biodynamic principles.
We manage and own eight vineyards, three of which are used to create our single vineyard wines, Landaviddy Lane, Talland Hill and Mill Hill.
What types of wine are you making for export and why?
We are involved in all aspects of wine growing and making. The wines are restrained and elegant with a distinctive minerality. These wines are a true expression of the sites they are from.
Great wines are grown not made and should reflect the site and vintage they are from.
Our wines focus is very much focused on showcasing interesting cool climate regions in Australia, in addition to highlighting the quality and personality of the wines produced on the Mornington Peninsula.
What do you think makes the Mornington Peninsula unique and worth telling the world about?
Unique micro climates can be found within the region, it is very small but very diverse. Vineyards are established in vastly different sites ranging from open plains, and sheltered valleys. Additionally, there are a huge range of different altitudes, due to the typography. Diversity is also found in such a small area in regard to the soil types. Predominantly rich volcanic red clay and sandy soils but some underlying granite bedrock does exist in high altitude north facing slopes.
The unique location surrounded by Port Phillip Bay, Western Port Bay and Bass Strait is unlike any other region in the world. This cool maritime climate creates a crisp acidity in all the wines and beautiful freshness.
What makes it different to other Australian wine regions?
The average vineyard size is 2.5 ha. These smaller plots means that manual processing is commonplace – the majority of vineyards are hand harvested, with pruning and canopy work also all done by hand . These small sites also make it exciting for single vineyard expressions. The focus for our region is quality over quantity.
The region is clearly focused on varietals which grow and thrive in the unique cool maritime climate, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. Specialising in these grapes means that we are producing wines with finesse and freshness. Our wines on the Mornington Peninsula have really come into their own and have an exceptional reputation domestically and abroad.
What perception do you think UK buyers have about Mornington Peninsula?
We believe that the UK market, for the most part is becoming more interested in the new world wines from Australia. Although the awareness on Mornington Peninsula wines may not be huge as yet, there is a definite interest.
What do you hope to achieve by the tasting and events in London and UK in September?
We mainly hope to be able to raise awareness of the region and the quality of the wines. That’s the starting point. And then for us individually it would be to potentially secure a UK distributor. Our wines are very well positioned for top end premium on-trade due to their quality. We are already exporting our wines to Germany and Japan on that basis.
Why should a UK buyer come and visit your stand?
If they are interested in terroir and wines with personality – they must visit us!
What sort of export prices do you have?
FBO (ex cellar) $13 – $35 AUD
What opportunities do you think there still are for premium wines from Australia?
I think plenty as we breakdown the stereotypes of Australia wine of the past “sunshine in a bottle”
What are you most looking forward to about coming to the UK…
a) From business point of view
Opening up new opportunities and seeing my wines enjoyed in a new market
b) From a personal point of view
Meeting interesting people and seeing my wines enjoyed.
- 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.