There is an enormous range of styles to the region's flagship variety, from a haunting elegance and lingering intensity through to the more complex, structured and rich expression of the land. The constant factor is the clear varietal character which is clearly pronounced throughout the different sub regions of the Peninsula. From cherry and raspberry flavours with soft tannins in the higher areas to more tannic, elegant yet assertive wines with plum fruit in the warmer areas. Mornington Peninsula winemakers understand Pinot Noir vines are fussy - they choose their homes with fastidious care, insisting on precise combinations of temperature, humidity, aspect and ripening time. Such special conditions are difficult to find in Australia, but the cool, green rolling hills and valleys of the Mornington Peninsula provide a perfect home.
The Mornington Peninsula provides a diverse range of micro climates that are perfectly matched to the production of high quality chardonnay. The chardonnay flavours range from melon, citrus, stone fruits and fig with mineral and flinty aspects that are a pure and intense expression of specific sites, often complemented by soft and creamy texture that makes these wines so alluring. Chardonnay, more than any variety, benefits from the extraordinary natural acidity that the cool Mornington Peninsula climate can produce and accentuates the restraint and tight structure for which the region is renowned. In recent years many reviews have described how chardonnay from the Mornington Peninsula provided the most pleasurable reward to those who had kept them in excess of ten years.
Pinot Gris thrives in the region's fertile soils and maritime climate with over 140 hectares currently planted. Pinot Gris produces soft, evocatively perfumed wines of surprising substance and complexity. Two distinct styles are made - the voluptuous - and the svelte, which Italian wine producers tend to pick before full ripeness. Mornington Peninsula producers have explored both styles with acclaim.
Surrounded by Bass Strait, Port Phillip Bay and Western Port Bay, the Mornington Peninsula is one of Australia's true maritime wine regions. In this part of the world, the prevailing wind is generally either from the north and west across Port Phillip Bay or from the south and east across Bass Strait. The maritime influence provides relatively high summer humidity, vine stress is low, sunshine hours are abundant, and rainfall is plentiful during winter and spring. The coincidence of late ripening and a prolonged gentle autumn result in fully ripe grapes with outstanding fruit flavours, high natural acidity and fine tannins.
There are four principal soil types. Hard mottled yellow duplex soils with a very distinct break marked by a thin, acid cement/sand pan between the surface soil and the underlying friable, well-drained clay are to be found in the Dromana area. Around Red Hill and Main Ridge, red soils of volcanic origin (kraznozems) predominate; these are very deep and fertile. In the Merricks area there are brown duplex soils, while much sandier soils are in evidence at Moorooduc.
Map Coordinates: 38Â° 20'S
Altitude: 25-250 metres (82-820 feet)
Heat degree days, October - April: 1080-1570 (cut off at 19ÂºC (66.2ÂºF) but otherwise not adjusted)
Growing season rainfall: 320-386 millimetres (12.5-15.2 inches)
Mean January temperature: 18.8-20Âº C (66-68ÂºF)
Relative humidity, October - April, 3 pm: Average 55%
Harvest: End February - early April