There are more than a few words that get thrown around pretty indiscriminately in the marketing and communication of wine. Words like premium, estate, reserve, authentic, terroir and unique. In most cases it is a pretty empty assertion, rarely can the claim be legitimately justified. Few people can truly say they are a pioneer, but John Middleton certainly can. With a background in the RAAF he found himself in the Yarra Valley as a regional family doctor back in the 1950s. He established the estate, inspired in part by the Swiss settlers of the 1850s (de Castella, de Pury), and the wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy.
Back in the 1960s there were almost no vineyards in the region, and wine production in Australia mostly consisted of fortified wine, with virtually no market for dry table wines (that weren’t sold in casks). Since planting the vineyard in 1972, Dr. John took the name Mount Mary made it one of the cult wineries in the country, selling their wines predominantly through a mailing list, and the balance going into the finest venues. Dr. John’s legacy cannot be understated, and when he passed away in 2006 a significant vacuum was created. There is a rumour that it was at his suggestion to Max Schubert that Penfolds Grange was made from predominantly shiraz instead of cabernet as originally conceived.
Thanks to the power of social media I was able to attend the Mount Mary Dinner, held at Circa The Prince in St. Kilda. The dinner was hosted by Sam and Claire Middleton, grandchildren of John. Sam is now making the wines whilst Claire is the Business Manager. Also in attendance was goof friend Patrick Walsh, whose company Cellarhand Wines distributes Mount Mary in Australia. The wines below were served with a four course dinner prepared by new head chef Ashly Hicks.
Very fine delicate linear citrus. Very light subtle but intense citrus pith, flinty leesy complexity.
Pinot Noir 2010
Very dark earthy black cherry pomegranate and clove, five spice. Velvety smooth tannins, exceptionally balanced and even across the palate, bright yet refined assured fruit.
Pinot Noir 1994
Truffle shiitake earthy barnyard. Still exceptionally tight and fine, long and pure, still very subtle savoury earthy texture, fruit still present. Beautifully stored, excellent condition.
Classically Bordeaux varietals from the Yarra Valley, tight stalky earthy capsicum, dusty subtle eucalyptus. Amazingly vibrant and fresh for the varieties, tight lean focused, small dark berries, warm soil notes, great concentration.
Very subtle closed dark mealy earthiness. Quite full mellow and juicy, round and long but somewhat lacking the focus and drive of the 2010.
Quite a lot of green melon notes, some Camembert notes too. Bold intense but very very fresh on the front, fading slowly on the palate in a very complex way.