Welcome to the Portfolio | Portsea Estate
Photo: Portsea Estate
Portsea Estate is a truely unique vineyard property situated at the furthest tip of the Mornington Peninsula. The narrow finger of land that separates Port Phillip Bay and Bass Strait is a picturesque coastline of undulating sand dunes, sandy beaches and rugged dramatic cliff faces. An underlying Limestone bedrock along the neck of land at the very tip of the peninsula formed some two million years ago and is historically and geologically important to the area, with lime burning being a primary industry in the area in the 1800s.
To Warwick Ross, this limestone-rich land also presented as a prime location for vineyards. Filmmaker Ross, whose family had owned the 'Tintagel' Farm in the area since the 1950s, is a lover of Burgundian wines, and knew the magical effect of limestone on the bouquet of great Burgundies. He refers to 19th century wine historian, Dr. Jules Lavalle, who poetically describes the effect:
...the perfume beneath the rock which the plant knows how to extract...”
Ross planted the Portsea Estate vines in 2000 on the site of early limestone quarries of the 1800s and, in the case of the Chardonnay, directly over the site of one of the early lime kilns. Significant limestone reefs and deposits still exist just beneath the surface.
The vines flourish on sunny, north facing slopes, shielded from the often harsh conditions characteristic of the windswept Bass Strait coastline. The fingers of wind which still manage to penetrate the leaf canopy, serve to maintain the health of the vines by minimising humidity.
Warwick Ross’s family has had strong ties with the Portsea/Sorrento area since the late 1800’s, when his grandfather, Dr. Frederick Kiel, as a young man, travelled regularly by paddle steamer from Melbourne to spend his summers at Sorrento.
In 1956, Warwick’s mother and father, June & Ted Ross, purchased “Tintagel”, a 40 acre farm fronting the Portsea Ocean Beach with undulating paddocks and sweeping views of tempestuous Bass Strait, establishing cattle grazing activities on the site.
Then in 2000, Warwick’s parents retired from the cattle business, and Warwick dedicated the protected north facing paddocks to planting Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines, based on his knowledge that the unique free draining limestone and calcareous sand that lay beneath the paddocks provided the perfect and highly sought after terroir for producing classic Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines.
Today, the business of Portsea Estate is very much a family affair, with Warwick’s wife, Margot, his sister Caron, her husband Philip and many of June & Ted’s grandchildren involved in various aspects of the enterprise, whether planting, pruning, harvesting, design, marketing or sales.
Tim Elphick is principal winemaker and viticulturist at Portsea Estate. His foray into the wine industry began in the late 1990s with studies in horticulture and practical experience in vine propagation. Vintages worked at Tarrawarra Estate, Yarra Ridge and Domaine Chandon were followed by five years of hands-on involvement at Paringa Estate under the tutelage of master winemaker Lindsay McCall, who inspired a disciplined work ethic and a passion for meticulous vineyard management.
Overseas vintage experience in Italy’s Barolo region and France’s Languedoc-Roussillon added ‘old world’ insight to ‘new world’ technique and this has been further complemented by Wine science and Viticulture studies at Charles Sturt University.
The expertise gained both in Europe and here on the Mornington Peninsula has put Tim at the forefront of Cold Climate winemaking techniques, specialising in varietals such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
THE MOONAH TREE
Before European settlement, the Portsea/Sorrento region was covered in dense woodland dominated by Moonah and She-oak (Casuarina) with Banksia and Tea-tree nearer the coast. Stands of Moonah trees now exist only in remnants while She-oaks and coastal Banksias were virtually wiped out in the 19th century following extensive land clearing and limeburning activities.
As part of Portsea Estate’s commitment to preserving and regenerating the unique ecological environment of the region, they have embarked on a program of re-establishing these indigenous trees throughout the property. Their native plant nursery now stocks upwards of 20,000 plants, all of which have been germinated from seeds exclusively sourced from the beautiful and ancient stands of Moonah, Banksia and She-oaks that still grow in and around the Portsea Estate vineyards.
From the single estate vineyard at Portsea. The free-draining, limestone-rich soils provide ideal conditions for chardonnay and pinot noir to thrive and have produced complex, layered wines of distinct character and minerality. Handpicked and chilled overnight before gentle whole bunch pressing the following morning. Fermented in a combination of barrique, hogsheads and puncheon barrels, maintained at or below 22 degrees to preserve aromatics. 15% malolactic fermentation and aged on lees for 10 months before bottling.
From the single estate vineyard at Portsea. The free-draining, limestone-rich soils provide ideal conditions for chardonnay and pinot noir to thrive and have produced complex, layered wines of distinct character and minerality. Handpicked and cold soaked on skins for gentle, soft tannin extraction. Wild yeast fermentation and some hand plunging aid extraction. After settling, the wine is racked into barrel for malolactic fermentation & maturation for 10 and a half months.
From two vineyard sites in Red Hill. The Back Beach Chardonnay is handpicked and whole bunch pressed, then barrel fermented in a combination of old and new French oak. Aged for just over 10 months with some battonage, resulting in fine palate texture.
A blend of pinot noir clones from a number of vineyards in Mornington Peninsula. The fruit is de-stemmed into open pot fermenters, cold soaked for gentle extraction and a wild yeast ferment. Aged for 10 and a half months in French oak (25% new). Pretty aromas and an overall fresh appeal.
From three vineyard sites in Red Hill, Merricks and Main Ridge. Partial barrel fermentation on solids and the remaining juice in tank, combines to retain all the vibrant, fresh fruit flavours typical of stainless steel fermentation, with the added complexity, structure and texture from barrel.
Available September, 2018
Made from 100% pinot noir, with 10 hours on skins creating a delicate pink blush colour. Open tank fermentation and stirring, the wine also spends 5 months in older French oak providing layered texture. Crisp and dry with bright acidity, with an added layer of barrel complexity.