An organic and biodynamic Plunge wine tour is all about innovative ideas when we visit Mornington Peninsula winemakers who are part of a global crusade that reject conventional thinking and push the boundaries in their vineyards and wines. Thirty years ago, winemakers Kathleen Quealy and Kevin McCarthy founded T’Gallant Winemakers. From a rustic winery/restaurant in Main Ridge, this dynamic duo thrust Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio under the collective nose of Australia’s wine cognocenti to create excitement and demand for aromatic wines perfectly suited to the spicy cuisine of the day.
Having sold their original family brand, Kevin and Kathleen now own one of the oldest pinot noir vineyards in the region where Quealy Winemakers continue their rebellious questioning ways. Located in Balnarring, the line-up of wines include a succulent Sangiovese blended red named Rageous (after a pet mule) and a lively north-eastern Italian white named Turbul Friulano, fermented in terracotta amphoras. The wines are available in a sunny tasting room at the front of a big iron-clad winery where dogs and cats roam. It’s the spot for progressive wine drinkers who love bold flavours and wine with attitude.
Further South, on an elevated north-eastern slope of rich volcanic soil, Kevin and Kathleen’s son, Tom McCarthy and his business partner Lucas Blanck make some of the most interesting natural wines in the region. At Kerri Greens three giant concrete water tanks have been converted into a winery, barrel room and funky rotund Cellar Door where aromatic Riesling and Gewürztraminer are the aperitif to the Hickson Chardonnay alive with savoury struck match and flint character. These lads also make a natural Pinot Noir, with confectionery flavours and free of additives, oak manipulation and other trappings of conventional winemaking. These wines are aimed squarely at a new generation of drinkers who drop their picnic rugs across the front lawn, enjoy scenic views and a carefree attitude and take selfies in sunglasses that somehow make everyone look cool.
On Stanley Road Merricks, Avani Wines’ winemaker, Shashi Singh is the torchbearer for minimalist intervention and biodynamic principles. Shashi’s approach has unintentionally become a sort of conscience to progressive wine drinkers who ask questions that go beyond taste to issues of health, morality and philosophy. Shashi makes biodynamic natural wines that range from delicious to profound. Her cloudy, peach-coloured Pinot Gris wraps around your palate with texture and unadulterated flavours while her Avani Syrah is a wine lovers’ grail. This joyous expression of cool climate Shiraz has rich flavours of eye-closing beauty.
From vineyards tended with love for the future, free of toxic chemicals pesticides and herbicides, Quealy, Kerri Greens and Avani succeed in making juicy, delicious wines that are gaining a loyal and enthusiastic following. Plunge in…