The Port Phillip Estate vineyard is located on the Mornington Peninsula at Red Hill, on Eocene volcanic soils. Our wines are made from domain grown, handpicked grapes and aim to manifest terroir: the integration of our geology and soils with the macroclimate of our region, the mesoclimates of the various sites within our vineyard and the weather of the annual grape growing season. Our cultural operations in the vineyard and practices in the winery endeavour to articulate these unique characteristics diligently, respectfully and without artifice.
September 2015 welcomed the beginning of budburst leading to a dry and warm spring. October was 3 degrees above the average temperature and El Niño affected the amount of rain we received. Vine vigour was controlled due to the lack of rainfall with the canopy generous and open. Fruitfulness was up from the previous vintage and flowering and fruit set occurred unhindered. Veraison commenced in early January.
The period between January and mid-March was warmer than historically usual and harvest began at the same time in February as recent vintages. Conditions remained very dry and warm throughout the harvest period, it was a compact vintage finishing in mid-March. The viticultural team worked steadily throughout harvest and delivered healthy and energetic fruit, with ripeness and acidity well balanced.
Now in its fifth year, this wine represents the exploration of our second site, located in Balnarring. This vineyard, planted to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, was acquired in 2007 but originally established in 1997. The original plantings comprise two distinct areas of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. A third area has been planted to Pinot Noir, exploiting the higher-density planting matrix found throughout the Pinot Noir growing regions of the Old World.
This wine was fermented in a combination of large-format wooden foudre and stainless-steel tanks. The ferment, with a small amount of whole bunches, commenced spontaneously with ambient yeasts and lasted 18 days. Following fermentation, the wine was pressed and racked into French oak barriques (of which 20% were new) and underwent indigenous malolactic fermentation. The wine was racked only for bottling, with a total maturation period of 11 months. It was then bottled without fining and with minimal filtration.
Always a more muscular wine than its Red Hill sibling, the 2016 Balnarring Pinot Noir sits in a darker fruit spectrum. Black cherry and heady spices on the aroma lead to a palate that is loaded with powerful fruit intensity. This fruit intensity is well balanced with plenty of fine grained tannin and a long, intense finish. It shows excellent mid-term ageing potential.
This silky, supple wine and its Red Hill sibling are amazing value. You’d expect to pay twice as much for wines of this calibre.
It’s up-and-about and lively from the outset but the palate has depth and brood. I suspect it will be at its best as a young wine but there’s certainly plenty of stuffing here. It tastes of black cherry in macerated form and has a wealth of smoky, undergrowth-like inflections. Dried herb and spice notes, cedary oak, chicory; they’re all here. It all comes across as tip-top.