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Quealy Winemakers

New Releases from an Estate “at the Top of its Game”
Quealy Winemakers

Quealy is on a roll. When we finally got hold of Tom McCarthy—we’ve been chasing him around Friuli for the last week—he told us he was “over the moon” with the 2023 white wines we are offering today. McCarthy’s enthusiasm is well-founded.
 
Thanks to the ground-breaking work of his parents—Kathleen Quealy and Kevin McCarthy—Tom’s got plenty working in his favour when it comes to making great whites. Firstly, the estate has been brilliantly managed for many years, so the quality and balance of his grapes have never looked finer. Then you’ve got the cadre of mature vines that yield small quantities of intensely flavoured fruit, a set of qualities only enhanced by the low-yielding nature of the last few vintages.
 
In the cellar, Tom has matched his fruit's high skin-to-juice ratios with long press cycles, oxidative handling and wood fermentations to further enhance the textural character of his whites. The resulting wines are not only unique but outstanding. Indeed, Tom and his team stand behind the 2023 whites as some of the best in the history of the estate, and we’re right there with them.
 
The lure of cool-climate Pinot was instrumental in bringing Kathleen and Kevin to the Mornington Peninsula back in 1988, and Quealy’s terrific Pinot Noirs from 2022 represent another arrow in this estate’s ever-impressive quiver. Described by Tom as “almost perfect, aside from there being next to no fruit”, it’s a vintage that showcases the heights this estate’s Pinot Noir is now scaling.

The Wines

Quealy Balnarring Pinot Grigio 2023

Quealy Balnarring Pinot Grigio 2023

This year’s Balnarring Pinot Grigio is drawn from the organically managed Hester vineyard and Campbell and Christine vineyard. Both sites lie less than three kilometres from the winery, where the fruit arrives within an hour of picking. The grapes are pressed as whole bunches with a low yield per tonne because Quealy only uses the most delicate portion of the cycle. The juice is left to settle overnight without sulphuring. In the morning, the wine is racked off its gross lees and left to begin spontaneous fermentation in stainless steel. After primary fermentation, malolactic conversion ensues before naturally stopping due to the winter temperatures. The wine is sulphured and bottled unfiltered.

Tom McCarthy calls the 2023 season a "rinse-and-repeat of 2022". Once again, poor flowering dramatically reduced eventual crops. The wet spring was followed by a stable ripening season, which allowed the fruit to develop steadily, with minimal disease pressure. This resulted in exceptional fruit with excellent flavour intensity—perhaps even dialled up from 2022—and with acute varietal distinctions. 

This is wonderfully perfumed, with white flowers, nashi pear, citrus and a twist of maritime freshness allied to a generous yet lip-smacking palate, rippling with mineral tension and a lick of salinity at the finish. Intense, fresh and crammed with flavour, there’s a whole lot of wine in the glass here.


“A blend of two sites managed by Quealy, this is textbook pinot grigio, really good. Flavoursome with wild herbs, flinty with a mouth-watering briny character adding to the appealing chewy phenolics. White stone fruit, glacé lemon and dried pear – there’s a lot in this and it's complex but not at the expense of drinkability.”
95 points, Jane Faulkner, The Wine Companion
“Light lemon yellow colour. Sweet pears, brown sugar and baking pastry aromatics. Bright core of sweet pear fruits with some pastry notes and floral undertones. Reasonable length and just enough acidity to dry out the clean finish. Offers easy and pleasing drinking.”
90 points, Stuart Knox, The Real Review
Quealy Balnarring Pinot Grigio 2023
Quealy Feri Maris Pinot Grigio 2023

Quealy Feri Maris Pinot Grigio 2023

The grapes for Quealy’s top Grigio bottling grow on the home vineyard in Balnarring. Established in 1982, it was one of the region’s first vineyards and is now certified organic and managed without irrigation. The Pinot Grigio was harvested by hand on 20th March, pressed as whole bunches and settled. It was racked with partial solids to stainless steel (70%) and hogsheads (50% new). The must fermented with indigenous yeasts, and there was no addition of sulphur. The wine was left on lees without stirring.

Tom McCarthy and the Quealy team have been impressed by the increasing quality of Quealy’s home vineyard, which has now been organically farmed for almost a decade. Partial barrel fermentation and maturation have become part of the winemaking to help frame the intensity of flavour and texture they find in the fruit grown on the site. The Feri Maris was racked before bottling on 1st July—nice and early to retain freshness and natural CO2 from the fermentation.

It’s a potent expression of Feri Maris in 2023, courtesy of mature, dry-grown vines, dramatically low yields and an even glide through the ripening season. This glitters in the glass with citrus, floral notes and a deep mineral core. It drives through the palate with snappy acidity and grippy but finely laced structure, closing with a citrusy, salty tang.

“Feri Maris is not a textbook Grigio style. There’s much more here than simple apple and pear. It’s an expression in between Grigio and Gris. Which is great. It has orange and grapefruit skin, autumnal fruit basket, trail mix, chamomile tea, baked pear, bitter almond, salted shortbread. It’s chewy and textural with fruity sweetness lingering on the sides of the tongue and herbal bitterness reaching far at the end of it keeping things light and fresh. Such fantastic Gris-gio it is. Of its own kind.”
93 points, Kasia Sobiesiak, The Wine Front
"Pale lemon yellow colour. Honey, turmeric and spiced pear aromas. Has a deep richness of pear and stone fruits that has balancing smoky spice complexity through the core. Acidity works through the flow to drive it well. Goes very long into a spicy finish. An intriguing wine that will unfurl further over time."
94 points, Stuart Knox, The Real Review
Quealy Feri Maris Pinot Grigio 2023
Quealy Pobblebonk Field Blend 2023

Quealy Pobblebonk Field Blend 2023

Named after the Pobblebonk frogs that clearly love life in Quealy’s vineyards and wetlands, this is an excellent introduction to Quealy’s Friuli-inspired blends. After a year off, this wine returns to reflect the home vineyard's older white vines. The Riesling and Chardonnay were planted in 1982, and the Friulano was grafted in 2007 from 1996-planted Chardonnay vines. The 2023 comprises 50% Riesling, 31% Friulano and 19% Chardonnay. The team picked and fermented the varieties separately with indigenous yeasts, in barrels (17% new) with full solids. After blending, the wine was bottled without fining.

This gleams with summer freshness with yellow flowers, sun-kissed fruits and some nutty kernel notes lending complexity. There’s lovely 'inter-varietal’ harmony at play here; it strikes an impressive balance between fleshy and ripe citrus pith, savoury nuance and a dash of coastal salinity. Tom McCarthy is super pleased with this release, and well he should be—it’s one of the finest Pobblebonks we’ve seen.

“It’s a bouncy name. Riesling, Friulano, Chardonnay. Almond friand, mandarine peel, ginger biscuit then lemongrass, lime skin. It’s punchy, both in aromas and flavours. At first, it seems slightly sweet but the juice is sour and tense and racy, refreshing and cleansing, very limey towards the end with a lightly dusty texture. Such great energy and vividness. Immediate appeal and substance. Great blend!”
93 points, Kasia Sobiesiak, The Wine Front
Quealy Pobblebonk Field Blend 2023
Quealy Tussie Mussie Pinot Noir 2022

Quealy Tussie Mussie Pinot Noir 2022

Tussie Mussie’s Pinot block is planted to 777—or the ‘Morey clone’ to give its more romantic nickname. It’s a low-yielding cultivar, and Quealy prunes the vine to a single arched cane, ensuring plenty of light and space around each cluster. These vines are managed organically, with certification to follow in due course. The site is just beginning to show its true potential. The intense, low-yielding conditions in 2022 provided the perfect foil for a glimpse of the vineyard’s true potential. 

Tussie Mussie is always the most open of Quealy’s single-site Pinots. The 2022 fermented in two small open-top fermenters. The 777 clone lends itself to the use of whole clusters, so one batch was mostly whole bunches and the other fully destemmed. After 16 days on skins, the wine was gently pressed to old barriques, where it remained for 14 months on full lees. Huon Hooke’s review nicely captures the purity and filigree nature of the wine. 



“Light-ish red with purple rim, and a fragrant, lifted bouquet of bunchy foresty/Italian herb and spicy aromas, raspberry, violets and rose-petals, the palate light-bodied and bright, intense and delicate. An aerial style of pinot that drinks really well now. (777 clone; one-third whole-bunch; no new oak).”
94 points, Huon Hooke, The Real Review
"A compote of strawberries, crushed bitter herbs, pomegranate and orange zest. It’s a satisfying medium-bodied red wine. It has that pretty edge of red fruit and the umami side of decaying leaves. It’s mandarin peel, light liquorice and cherry in the aftertaste. The flavour lingers but the tension eases, leaving a touch of warming cinnamon on the gums. Very approachable and easy to like, no less."
92 points, Kasia Sobiesiak, The Wine Front
Quealy Tussie Mussie Pinot Noir 2022
Quealy KK01 Pinot Noir 2022

Quealy KK01 Pinot Noir 2022

Organic. 2022 is just the fourth release of the KK01, but this wine has already secured its position as a mainstay among Quealy’s fantastic range of Mornington Pinot Noirs. The fruit is sourced from two blocks of dry-grown MV6 vines in Quealy’s certified-organic home vineyard in Balnarring. These vines, planted in 1996, are a stone's throw from the famed, old-vine Seventeen Rows plot.

The aim for KK01 has always been to craft a delicious, earth-to-glass Pinot with immediate charm and early appeal. Hence, there’s a strong carbonic element and less time on skins than in the Seventeen Rows, for example. There is also little by way of sulphur additions and no impact from new wood. The fruit was destemmed and fermented as whole berries with no plunging. The wine was pressed after 12 days and sent to seasoned puncheons for 12 months’ maturation.

Though there may not be much of it—yields were dramatically low in 2022 for this certified-organic estate—it’s clear KK01 is hitting its straps. Popping with fresh-berry fragrance and savoury, spicy depth, it’s a real charmer. 

“Medium red with purple tints and a bright red-berry fruit bouquet with blueberry/violet, red-cherry and gently chocolaty aromas, the palate light-medium bodied and soft with fine powdery tannins and very accessible now. Delicious pinot.”
93 points, Huon Hooke, The Real Review
“Don’t bother cellaring this. It’ll be fine if you do so in the short-term, yet this is ready now. A gorgeous combo of florals and spice, red cherries and raspberries, chinotto and blood orange. Lighter framed with soft, silky tannins and a refreshment throughout.”
94 points, Jane Faulkner, The Wine Companion
Quealy KK01 Pinot Noir 2022
Quealy Musk Creek Pinot Noir 2022

Quealy Musk Creek Pinot Noir 2022

Musk Creek vineyard, perched atop Main Ridge and planted in 1997 by Kevin McCarthy and Kathleen Quealy, is considerably cooler and hence later-ripening than Quealy’s Tussie Mussie or Seventeen Rows sites. As such, it’s a marginal place to ripen Pinot, and low yields are a must (along with plenty of work with the canopy). Sitting at 150 metres, these mature vines are rooted in the rich red soils of the region. The four-hectare site is planted to Pinot Noir (mostly MV6) and Gris in equal measure, with another hectare dedicated to Muscat Rouge à Petits Grains and Chardonnay.

The intense, low-yielding season warranted a rethink regarding winemaker Tom McCarthy’s use of whole bunches. The low berry-to-stalk ratio simply didn’t warrant its use, so Tom destemmed all the fruit to better capture its purity and vividness. Wild fermentation took place in small two-tonne fermenters with minimal plunging and only light pressing. The wine rested on full lees in French hogsheads (25% new) for 14 months before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. The quality of the vintage and site is undeniable. The 2022 is a bright, complex and delicious release.

“Medium red with purple tints and a bold black-cherry aroma, with very ripe fruit in the blackberry/plum/black-cherry range. Intense palate, fine and focused in the middle, with penetrating flavour and a hint of five-spice. The wine is plush and succulent in the mouth with lovely fruit sweetness and soft, refined tannins. Impeccable balance; really delicious and long. (No whole-bunch; all MV6 clone; 25% new oak; matured in 300-litre hogsheads).”
95 points, Huon Hooke, The Real Review
Quealy Musk Creek Pinot Noir 2022
Quealy Campbell & Christine Pinot Noir 2022

Quealy Campbell & Christine Pinot Noir 2022

With Musk Creek and Tussie Mussie, this site completes the trio of Quealy’s premier-league, leased Mornington Peninsula vineyards. Established by Campbell and Christine Penfold—both doctors— in 1994, it mainly features the MV6 clone. Some 114 and 115 were also planted, taking advantage of the premium clones that became available around the same time. Located on the coastal plain, it sits just 30 metres above sea level behind Balnarring village. It’s an exposed, north-facing site with alluvial clay and red soils washed down from Red Hill. Tom McCarthy tells us it produces “gorgeous, small bunches of glossy Pinot Noir”. Stylistically, the Campbell & Christine sits at the more concentrated, muscular end of the Pinot spectrum.

Low yields in 2022 further ramped up the impactful fruit from this site, so Tom approached it with a gentle hand in the cellar. Different clones were picked over two days—9th and 16th March. Destemmed fruit fermented in small vats over 21 days before being gently pressed to puncheons (approximately 20% new) for 14 months.

“Medium-deep red-purple colour with an intensely spicy bouquet that shows floral/rose-petal notes at first, then dark-cherry and bitter herb touches. The palate full and round, rich and deep, with spicy flavour and ample fine tannins well matched to the wine's weight. Good structure, a touch of grip, and it would take some age to advantage. (Mostly MV6 clone; basalt soils close to sea-level; matured in 500-litre puncheons).”
95 points, Huon Hooke, The Real Review
Quealy Campbell & Christine Pinot Noir 2022

“Quealy has a track record of finding inimitable complexity from white grapes distinct from chardonnay in this region.” Mike Bennie, How To Drink Australian



“…the latest crop of wines sees Quealy at the top of its game.”
Huon Hooke, The Real Review



“Hardly needs mentioning, but these Quealy wines all offer amazing value, given the quality.”
Max Allen, The Australian Financial Review



★★★★★ 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 

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