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Quealy: Maritime Magic from 2020 and 2021

Quealy: Maritime Magic from 2020 and 2021

“It’s tough to choose between the Quealy skin contact wines, they’re all so good. Hardly needs mentioning, but these Quealy wines all offer amazing value, given the quality.” Max Allen, The Australian Financial Review

“The future looks bright for Quealy Winemakers, with eldest son Tom joining the business in 2012 ... Great things are seldom born of conformity.” Huon Hooke, Gourmet Traveller Wine

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Winery rating “Kathleen Quealy and Kevin McCarthy were among the early waves of winemakers on the Mornington Peninsula. They challenged the status quo - most publicly by introducing Mornington Peninsula pinot gris/grigio (with great success). Behind this was improvement and diversification in site selection, plus viticulture and winemaking techniques that allowed their business to grow significantly.” James Halliday, Winecompanion.com.au

Explore the full available range from Quealy here.

While much of the historical narrative surrounding Quealy has focused on the winemaking side of matters, the story of its vineyards makes it quite clear that the team are wine growers first and winemakers second—and proper ones at that. They have earnt the right to be called pioneers precisely because of this: they came to their region, looked closely at its potential, chose sites, and planted varieties that they felt would excel. The farming practice and winemaking has evolved from there.

Four vineyards lie at the heart of the portfolio. The home block in Balnarring was planted in 1982 and has some of the oldest Pinot Noir vines in the Peninsula. This is also the home to Quealy’s oldest Pinot Grigio, and the aromatic varieties, Moscato Giallo, Friulano and Riesling, as well as recent plantings of Malvasia and Ribolla Gialla. A little Chardonnay from the original plantings also remains. As of 2019, the home vineyard is certified organic.
Kathleen Quealy planted the Musk Creek vineyard in 1997. Perched atop Main Ridge overlooking Westernport Bay and the heads, it’s the coolest site in the portfolio and bestows exceptional, late-ripening Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Then, on the red soils of Merricks North, there’s the Tussie Mussie vineyard, and back in Balnarring we have Campbell & Christine, again planted by Quealy (for the owners) in 1994. Each of these sites is managed entirely by the Quealy team and, with the current exception of Musk Creek, are farmed organically.

The decision, in 2014, to work organically has proven to be a far-reaching one for Quealy. As Tom McCarthy puts it, “anyone working organically tends to be pretty in-tune with their vineyards” and he readily admits that to do it right requires an “obsessive level of operation”. Within the paradigm, Quealy’s viticulturalist, Lucas Blanck, has overseen a major overhaul of the Balnarring home vineyard practices; including organic certification, dryland farming and a rotational cover crop program for nutrition. And Blanck’s work has done much to underpin the quality we’re seeing in today’s wines. According to McCarthy, this makes his job as winemaker much easier: “The vines and the winery are interconnected and this connection flows through to the wines—you have to take that seriously”. To be clear, the sustained commitment to the vineyard-first approach has seen a marked evolution in the quality and character of this grower’s wines over recent years.

Which brings us to the new releases. Firstly, 2021 has struck again. Relatively smooth sailing conditions and the long, cool growing season presented good yields of perfectly ripe, full-flavoured, pristine fruit with impeccable balance. With such fine raw material to play with, the 2021 skin contact releases have wonderful texture, intensity and a refreshing lift; they are lighter in alcohol and weight than last year’s wines and are even more alluring for it. Kevin McCarthy has described 2021 as a sublime season, and Quealy’s wines in both colours back up this claim.

Going back further, the cool 2020 vintage produced vibrant and energetic set of Pinot Noir vibrating with fresh flavour and bright acidity. Unfortunately, however, 2020 was not so blessed in the yield department—the single-site Quealy Pinots offered below won’t be around for long, folks.

Enough already. What we offer below is a range of outstanding value wines that represent a unique expression of the Mornington Peninsula…

The Wines

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