Mark Matthews is never going to win any awards for marketing or self-promotion, so it’s just as well he’s rather diligent at his day job. The kind of green credentials practiced at this family-owned Gippsland Estate deserve to be applauded. Winegrower-ecologist Matthews has recently passed his 10th year of organic certification, and has instigated a weed management program using a combination of fire-stick and hard labour. As part of a widespread replanting program for both ecological and carbon-offset purposes, he has planted the 14,000th tree on the property, and since 2012 he has been slowly establishing native grasses between blocks. While we’re on a roll, he is now in his fourth year of removing weak or unsuitable vines and replacing with massale selections. Matthews’ attention to detail also runs through his packaging program which includes specially imported, post-consumer recycled paper for his labels (printers do not offer this product in Australia), recycled, unbleached paper for his cartons and the most sustainable glass he can find; bottles that are lighter and therefore have a lower carbon footprint. We could go on.
Of course, all this eco-energy would be moot were the wines not up-to-scratch and such remarkable value. In fact, for as long as we have been in business, Matthews has quietly been going about crafting some of the keenest-priced Victorian Chardonnay and Pinot Noir on the market. Mount Macleod’s three vineyard sites, all in the Leongatha region, were selected to an exacting criteria; free-draining, high ironstone soils with pebbling throughout, and an east to north-east aspect. The vines are dry-grown and yields, which might easily blow out in the fertile Leongatha soils, are strictly controlled. In short, Matthews grows lovely, organic fruit and his simple, paired back winemaking regime, which includes wild ferments and only neutral oak- is designed to deliver this modest message to bottle with as much honesty as possible.
For those new to the label, Mount Macleod’s wines are no score junkies, wines looking to make the headlines, win trophies or the like. What we have instead is a set of great value, honest-to-goodness deliciousness from an organic Australian grower with an impressive set of values and practices.
Screwcap. The sloping, south-facing Chardonnay block from which this wine derives has the classic well-drained, red ferresol soils so common in Gippsland. This was the first parcel to gain organic certification in 2008. In terms of the winemaking, each batch is pressed and lightly settled before being racked to used barrels with plenty of solids. It's wild-fermented, then raised un-sulphured on its lees for 20 months in neutral wooden barrels which have previously housed the Caledonia Australis Chardonnay. Both primary and malolactic fermentation occur naturally, though every effort is given to ensure these fermentations occur quickly to capture freshness and the maximum personality of the fruit. It's a creamy, textural wine with ripe stone fruits, honey and buttery aromas and flavours, along with a twist of matchstick on a fresh and persistent finish. Sensational value for money.
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