About this WINE
Circe is a boutique label from Dan Buckle (who is also winemaker at Mount Langi Ghiran) and Aaron Drummond (Mount Langi’s marketing manager). The fruit is drawn from the Hillcrest Road single vineyard, in Red Hill in the Mornington Peninsula. The vineyard covers Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, on deep red volcanic basalt soils.
With Port Phillip Bay to the west, Western Port Bay to the east and Bass Straight to the south, it’s impossible to miss the predominant influence on viticulture in the Mornington Peninsula. As such, this cool location is proving its worth as one of the quality New World Pinot Noir regions.
The Hillcrest Pinot Noir by Circe has very rapidly stridden to the front and is now leading quality wine production in the area. It is sourced from a 1.2 ha site about 2.5 miles from the coast, planted in 1993 in a cool North East facing site. With only just over 20 hl/ha making it to fermentation, low yield is the main weapon in the quality arsenal. In the good years the team use whole bunch fermentation with week-long maceration and carefully implemented foot treading over a further six days. This considered winemaking delivers a wine of standout sophistication.
Mornington Peninsula is one of Victoria's key wine regions, located to the South of the Melbourne metropolis and is the Eastern arm, along with the Bellarine Peninsula to the West, that creates Port Phillip Bay. On the Eastern side of the Peninsula you find another body of water, Western Port Bay, meaning that the vineyards of the peninsula are surrounded by water on three sides when you also consider Bass Straight to the South.
Since the latest wave of commercial wine production began in 1978, this cooler maritime environment has very quickly become an important wine-making area with a keen focus on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Aromatic varieties such as Pinot Gris, Riesling and Viognier are also planted here.
Soils vary from sands and alluvial clays though to volcanic soils on Red Hill these locations between 25 and 250 meters above sea level are generally well drained but hold enough of the 350mm of rain that falls during the growing season.
Now with over 60 producers the style of wines is now becoming recognisable. Chardonnays with purity and leanness not found on many other places in Victoria and Pinot Noirs with intense fruit character, spice and smoke, free of too much weight.
With the centre of Melbourne only an hour on the motorway, this region has long housed Melbournians in the second homes over long hot Summers, therefore offering some of the most expensive real estate in the state. No surprise then that typically Mornington Peninsula wines tend not to be inexpensive. That's not to say they don't offer value, with high standards of viticulture and very good growing conditions ensuring there is a lot of fascination to be discovered.
A noble black grape variety grown particularly in the Northern Rhône where it produces the great red wines of Hermitage, Cote Rôtie and Cornas, and in Australia where it produces wines of startling depth and intensity. Reasonably low yields are a crucial factor for quality as is picking at optimum ripeness. Its heartland, Hermitage and Côte Rôtie, consists of 270 hectares of steeply terraced vineyards producing wines that brim with pepper, spices, tar and black treacle when young. After 5-10 years they become smooth and velvety with pronounced fruit characteristics of damsons, raspberries, blackcurrants and loganberries.
It is now grown extensively in the Southern Rhône where it is blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre to produce the great red wines of Châteauneuf du Pape and Gigondas amongst others. Its spiritual home in Australia is the Barossa Valley, where there are plantings dating as far back as 1860. Australian Shiraz tends to be sweeter than its Northern Rhône counterpart and the best examples are redolent of new leather, dark chocolate, liquorice, and prunes and display a blackcurrant lusciousness.
South African producers such as Eben Sadie are now producing world- class Shiraz wines that represent astonishing value for money.