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Yarra Valley, part 5
The wines of Mount Mary

As we heard before in the account of Guill de Pury and Yeringberg, winegrowing in the Yarra had a 50 year break, beginning in the 1920s. Then, in the 1970s a small band of pioneers returned to the Yarra, including Dr John Middleton. Others included Guill de Pury, Peter McMahon (Seville Estate), Reg Egan QC (Wanterna Estate) and CSIRO scientist Bailey Carrodus (Yarra Yering).

John Middleton was a medical man, and in 1971 he planted 25 acres of vines. Over a while he established a stellar reputation, with the wineryís small (3000 case) production selling out quickly each year. Itís one of Australiaís Ďcultí wines. I didnít meet John on my visitósadly, he wasnít well, and died shortly after in June 2006 aged 82.

Mount Mary wines arenít universally appreciated, though. In particular, Robert Parker gave them a bit of a hammering. How did Middleton react? Each year the winery opens for two weeks for mailing list customers, and the offending Parker review was displayed on the end of a barrel for everyone to see.

A range of varieties are grown here. Itís testament to the versatility of the Yarra that Cabernet and Pinot Noir can grow side by side in the same vineyard. Middleton hated Shiraz, though, and wouldnít grow it. The grapes are picked early by Australian standards: Middleton aimed to get them in before 13.5% potential alcohol. At picking, some of the fruit tastes green in the vineyard, but the wines turn out fine.

Mount Mary Triolet 2004
A blend of 70% Sauvignon, 25% Semillon and 5% Muscadelle. Both Mount Mary whites are made with plenty of solids left in the juice, pressed to about 700 litres/ton, racked with half solids in the tank for a couple of days fermentation when they go into barrel. This has quite an assertive grassy nose: not terribly perfumed, but rather quite savoury. Nice weight of fruit on the palate, with good presence. Itís fruity with a hint of phenolic structure. Very good/excellent 90/100

Mount Mary Chardonnay 2004
15% new wood with some larger barrels. No malolactic. Good yellow colour. Smooth, rounded nose with some minerality, a bit of flint and some smokiness. The palate shows lovely weight and restraint. Itís smooth, concentrated and quite elegant with a nice minerality. Thereís a bit of softness and fatness, but overall itís a very stylish wine with a good future ahead of it. Very good/excellent 92/100

Mount Mary Pinot Noir 2003
Quite pale in colour. Sweet, intense, smooth, dark cherry and berry fruit nose with a spicy tang. Itís quite complex. Herbs and tar in the background. The palate has great concentration and presence with elegant, spicy cherryish fruit, backed up by nice structure and acidity. Itís a big but delicious wine with lots of complexity.  Very good/excellent 92/100

Mount Mary Vineyard Quintet 2003
This is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec and 5% Petit Verdot. Itís normally 12.5% alcohol, but this was a warm year and they got caught for tank space, so itís 13%. The nose shows lovely complex sweet blackcurrant fruit with a spicy, savoury, almost minty earthy/gravelly edge. The palate is concentrated with nice gravelly complexity to the ripe blackcurrant and red berry fruit. A classy, savoury Bordeaux-styleóperhaps a bit riper than Bordeauxóbut itís a wine that has power allied to restraint. Thereís just a hint of greenness, but itís more leafiness than pyrazine character. Very good/excellent 93/100   

Yarra series:

Wines tasted 03/06
Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

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