About this WINE
Crittenden Estate was established in 1982 when Garry Crittenden planted his first vines at Dromana on the Mornington Peninsula, a then unknown wine region. His 5-acre planting took the region’s total area under vine to 10 acres - today there are in excess of 2500 acres of vines across the Peninsula. By embarking on wine production in the Mornington Peninsula, a region now renowned for its cool maritime climate, the Crittendens became pioneers of cool climate viticulture in Australia.
Originally from Brisbane, Garry came to Melbourne in his late teens where he embarked upon a career in horticulture. He started with horticultural research and gradually became involved with plant nurseries. He clearly possessed a passion for growing plants and by combining this with his love of wine he found himself attracted to viticulture. As an experienced horticulturist he was able to implement new, cutting edge viticultural techniques and soon became known for his successful vine growing methods. By the late 1980s he was in demand around Australia as a viticultural consultant, as well as running his own vineyard.
The winemaking is now in the very capable hands of Garry’s son, Rollo Crittenden. He returned to the family business in 2007, after 11 years working at Dromana wines, the last 4 of which he was Chief Winemaker. Prior to that he gained experience working vintages in Italy, Oregon, California and New South Wales. He works alongside his father in the vineyards and oversees all aspects of winemaking at the estate, with plenty of (mostly ignored) advice from his father.
The Crittendens are becoming increasingly interested in understanding sustainability, working on nurturing and caring for their soils and employing vineyard practices that protect their plants, microclimate and environment. They are currently moving towards achieving organic certification, with the long-term possibility of biodynamic conversion. Rollo has recently embarked on replanting and grafting some of their older vines to new, top quality Burgundian clones of Pinot Noir. In total they have 5 hectares under vine – 2.5ha is made up of multiple clones of Pinot Noir; 1.5ha is Chardonnay, with a further 0.5ha each of Savagnin and Arneis. In addition to working with estate grown fruit, they also buy some grapes from like-minded local growers.
Kangerong is the Aboriginal name of the area around Crittenden Estate Kangerong is the Aboriginal name of the area around Crittenden Estate, and the name of the single vineyard which the Crittenden family has owned and maintained since planting in 1982.. The aim of the two wines in this range is to highlight the Mornington Peninsula’s claim as a leading Chardonnay and Pinot Noir growing region. The wines use fruit grown on the estate and are therefore influenced by the tempering maritime effect of the cool climate region. They play to the strengths of vine age and Garry’s focus on soil biology. We are delighted that both Crittenden’s Kangerong Chardonnay and Kangerong Pinot Noir are exclusive to Berry Bros. & Rudd in the UK.
Australia has come to represent the most 'successful' New World producer to date, the benchmark by which competitor winemaking nations have come to judge themselves. However it’s been achieved not without significant cost to an industry that has been forced to consolidate in ever-decreasing circles, in order to keep the wheels from falling off the Brand Australia juggernaut. In 2003-2004, 20 businesses accounted for 86 percent of all production. The prize has been a 24 percent share of the UK market (as well as a rapidly-improving one in the USA), ironically a position it held 'before the Wars' as a supplier of fortified 'Empire wine'.
Commercial viticulture was established during the early part of the 19th century, with South Australia the last to plant in the 1840s before quickly establishing itself as the major source of fortified wine. A post-WWII move towards consumption of still dry table wine, encouraged by the steady stream of immigrants, was accelerated by the introduction of German pressured fermentation vats, stainless-steel and refrigeration units during the 1970s, enabling winemakers to ferment to dryness. At the same time, French barrels made their debut, adding complexity and a premium allure, while fruit from new, cooler areas such as Coonawarra and Padthaway permitted lighter styles to be made.
These seismic improvements were not lost on the UK market, itself in near revolution during the early 1980s as Thatcher's government bounced the economy back to life. With Neighbours dominating the airwaves, supermarkets were given carte blanche to spread far and wide, immediately creating a demand for a new style of wine, namely a ‘brand’, with consumers only too willing to move from Bulgarian table wine to an Aussie fruit bomb – especially one with an Emu on the label.
The Australians grasped the opportunity, only too willing to supply the right product at the right price, supported by aggressive pricing and discounts. On the supply side, the structure of their industry allowed them to cross-border blend and so maximise production. Corporate consolidation further improved their effectiveness to compete on volume yet has not hitherto allowed them to grow sales value.
Only the ramifications of a current chronic seven-year drought, with saline levels at unprecedentedly high levels and the evaporation of the Murray Darling River (South Australia's only real source of irrigation since viticulture began) to a virtual trickle has prompted the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation (AWBC) to finally enforce water quotas. Yet even when an oversupply still exists, key Australian brands are now being obliged to import wine from the likes of Chile to meet demand; 40 percent of wineries are running at a loss, largely as a result of over-capitalisation.
Meanwhile there's a significant minority of winegrowers making regionally expressive, terroir wines of real distinction clamouring to make themselves heard; unfortunately it is the corporates that control how the marketing budget is spent, the ‘big five’ comprising Fosters Wine Estates (Wolf Blass, Penfolds, Rosemount Estate, Lindemans), Hardys Wine Co. (Banrock Station, Leasingham), Orlando Wines (Jacob's Creek), Australian Vintage Ltd (McGuigan Wines, Tempus Two, Miranda), and Casella (Yellow Tail). Maybe global warming will have the final say.
Though blending away regional differences has essentially been key to Australia's brands competing, there is a range of regional styles that’s clearly defined and demanding recognition, notably Barossa Valley Shiraz, Eden Valley Riesling, McLaren Vale Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, Langhorne Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, Wrattonbully Cabernet Sauvignon, Clare Valley Riesling, Adelaide Hills Chardonnay, Yarra Valley Pinot Noir, Hunter Valley Semillon, and Margaret River and Great Southern Cabernet Sauvignon.
Climatically the continent could be divided into two: a tropical weather pattern affecting New South Wales and the north, while the southern half of the country – covering the key viticultural states of Western and Southern Australia, Victoria and Tasmania – enjoys a less extreme band of warm to hot weather oscillating between 25 and 35 Celsius. Yet without the cool oceans enjoyed by California or the mountain ranges of Italy, the climate does not benefit from significant diurnal shifts in temperature, between day and night. There are, however, notable cooler spots such as Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Eden Valley, Coonawarra, Wrattonbully, Adelaide Hills, Macedon Ranges, Yarra Valley and Tasmania. Relatively high humidity (around 55 percent) seems to be a prerequisite for successful photosynthesis in these climes.
Of the 167,000 ha producing 14.3hl of wine in 2005, the state of South Australia accounts for 43 percent of the vineyard area (ie Riverland, Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale); New South Wales, 24 percent (Riverina, Murray Darling, Hunter Valley); Victoria, 23 percent (Heathcote, Swan Hill, Yarra Valley); and Western Australia just 8 percent (Margaret River, Great Southern).