Stonier Wines, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

By Michael Harden
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Tasting award-winning pinot noir at Stonier's, Mornington Peninsula,Victoria

Tasting award-winning pinot noir at Stonier's, Mornington Peninsula,Victoria [©VV]

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Brian Stonier, Stonier, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria [©VisitVineyards.com]

Established in Merricks in 1978 by Brian and Noel Stonier, Stonier Wines has undergone major changes since its days as a single 600-vine plot with spectacular ocean views. Big winemaking and then big brewing companies have gathered Stonier under their wings and winemakers have come and gone, but still the wines attract attention and awards.

Geraldine McFaul has been at Stonier for ten years and took over as chief winemaker from Todd Dexter (now at Yabby Lake) in 2003.  She was attracted to Stonier because they only made three varieties of wine.

“I liked the idea of a region specialising,” she says. “We have cut down to two varieties and I find that approach to have real integrity. I think it is the way that things are happening in Australia – we are moving away from that idea that everything can go everywhere. The Mornington Peninsula is a real self-selector in that respect. To me, if it is not the best you can do, why do it?”

Stonier now has 150 acres of vines, fifty of them on the beautiful estate vineyards at Merricks, home of the Stoniers and the site of the winery’s dramatic Daryl Jackson-designed cellar door. Other sites in five different regions have been chosen with for their particular characteristics – protected from the sea winds and retaining maximum exposure to the sun.

Geraldine McFaul’s philosophy – and her passion - with winemaking is based on wines that distinctly reflect the specific sites they come from. As chief winemaker at Stonier she has been making small amounts of single vineyard wines from particular vines in the Merricks vineyard, something they have been “mucking around with” for a few years but is now being done in a more formal, commercial way. She is loathe to generalise about a Mornington Peninsula chardonnay or a Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir but when pushed, she outlines what she believes are the general regional characteristics.

“With chardonnay,” she says, “You get incredibly powerful fruit that comes into a citrus, nut, honey character as they get older. They are quite big in terms of flavour and weight but with the Mornington Peninsula acidity bringing things together, giving it a lovely balance of richness and elegance. The pinots are quite aromatic, a lighter, more classic Burgundy style of wine - light, ethereal and with good acid.”

A tasting at the Stonier cellar door contrasting the Reserve labelled chardonnay and pinot noir with the standard versions blended from various vineyards on the Peninsula, allows you to experience both the differences and the similarities from wines made with the same type of grape. If you are lucky, you may even get to taste one of the single vineyard wines, sipping it in view of the specific rows of vines from which it came. It is a perfect way to understand just what this cool climate region is capable of producing both in terms of quantity and variety.

© Michael Harden 2006

First printed in Food and Wine Lovers’ Guide to Melbourne and Surrounds (2006)

Stonier, Cnr Frankston-Flinders Road and Thompson’s Lane, Merricks, Victoria (03) 5989 8300

Regions

  • Mornington Peninsula (VIC)

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