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Mount Macleod

Organic Gippsland Values from Caledonia Australis

Mark Matthews is never going to win any awards for marketing or self-promotion, so it’s just as well he’s rather diligent at his day job. The kind of green credentials practiced at this family-owned Gippsland Estate deserves to be applauded. Winegrower-ecologist Matthews has recently passed his 10th year of organic certification and has instigated a weed management program using a combination of firestick and hard labour.

As part of a widespread replanting program for both ecological and carbon-offset purposes, he has planted the 14,000th tree on the property, and since 2012 he has been slowly establishing native grasses between blocks. While we’re on a roll, he is now in his fourth year of removing weak or unsuitable vines and replacing them with massale selections. Matthews’ attention to detail also runs through his packaging program which includes specially imported, post-consumer recycled paper for his labels (printers do not offer this product in Australia), recycled, unbleached paper for his cartons and the most sustainable glass he can find—bottles that are lighter and therefore have a lower carbon footprint. We could go on.

Mount Macleod’s wines are no score junkies. These are not wines looking to make the headlines, win trophies, or the like. What we have instead is a set of great value, honest-to-goodness deliciousness from an organic Australian grower with an impressive set of values and practices.

Of course, all this eco-energy would be moot were the wines not up-to-scratch and such remarkable value. In fact, for as long as we have been in business, Matthews has quietly been going about crafting some of the keenest-priced Victorian Chardonnay and Pinot Noir on the market. Mount Macleod’s three vineyard sites, all in the Leongatha region, were selected to an exacting criterion: free-draining, high ironstone soils with pebbling throughout, and an east to north-east aspect. The vines are dry-grown and yields, which might easily blow out in the fertile Leongatha soils, are strictly controlled. In short, Matthews grows lovely, organic fruit and his simple, paired-back winemaking regime—which includes wild ferments and only neutral oak—is designed to deliver this modest message to bottle with as much honesty as possible.

Currently Available

Mount Macleod Gruner Veltliner 2021

Mount Macleod Gruner Veltliner 2021

Screwcap. This is the second release of Mark Matthews’ Grüner Veltliner. With one eye on Australia's shifting culinary trends (away from animal protein) and the other on the marginal nature of his site, Matthew decided to produce a lower-alcohol, savoury white from Austria’s signature grape variety. The vineyard—organic from inception and surrounded on three sides by a small forest planted by Mark Matthews many moons ago (with a little help from the Bibendum team!)—has three clones of Grüner covering just over three acres. The crop was wild-fermented and raised mainly in stainless steel, with one neutral barrel in the mix to add breadth and complexity. It’s a striking, savoury dry white with intense white pepper and green plum aromas and flavours, along with something exotic akin to guava or even rosewater. It’s got texture but it’s overall very racy, with a sappy, cool close.

The crop was wild-fermented and raised mainly in stainless steel, with one neutral barrel in the mix to add breadth and complexity. It’s a striking, savoury dry white with intense white pepper and green plum aromas and flavours, along with something exotic akin to guava or even rosewater. It’s got texture but it’s overall very racy, with a sappy, cool close.

Mount Macleod Gruner Veltliner 2021
Mount Macleod Pinot Noir 2022

Mount Macleod Pinot Noir 2022

Yet another excellent release from this estate begs the question: Is there a better value, organically grown Victorian Pinot on the market? We think not. Fermented with indigenous yeasts with less than 5% whole bunches, the wine matured for 12 months on lees in a mixture of concrete and old wooden barrels (at least 10 uses) that previously housed the Caledonia Australis Pinot Noir. As always, it’s a wine that over-delivers on every metric. It’s juicy, silky, pure-fruited and loaded with spice and forest floor notes, matched by sleek, juicy texture. This is bang-on. 

Mount Macleod Pinot Noir 2022
Mount Macleod Chardonnay 2023

Mount Macleod Chardonnay 2023

Sometimes you have to call it like you see it: Mount MacLeod should be one of Australia’s go-to value producers. After all, this a dedicated and eco-minded grower in the truest sense and one arguably crafting the best-value organically managed Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Victoria. Macleod’s sloping, south-facing Chardonnay block sits on the classic well-drained, red ferrosol of South Gippsland. This parcel was first to gain organic certification in 2008, the vines are dry-grown and yields—which might easily blow out in the fertile Leongatha soils—are strictly controlled, averaging a bizarrely low (given the pricing) 1.5 tonnes per acre. In the shed, the guiding principle for Mark Matthews is to have confidence in the fruit and allow it to sit at the heart of all decision-making. Consequently, his pared-back winemaking regime, encompassing wild ferments and only neutral oak, is designed to deliver his subtle message with as much integrity as possible. This year, 5% of the fruit was fermented on skins to add texture and phenolic tension to the blend, while the balance was pressed as whole bunches. The wine was divided between concrete vessels with no malolactic conversion, and 15+-year-old barriques with partial malolactic conversion. Both batches rested on lees with no stirring for nine months. With a touch more grip than last year, this is another terrific value from one of Victoria’s most green-fingered growers. Expect punchy and vibrant citrus flavours, mouth-watering freshness and an impressively long close.

Mount Macleod Chardonnay 2023

“Mark and Marianna Matthews acquired Caledonia Australis in 09. Mark is a winemaker with vintages in numerous wine regions around the world. He works as a winemaking teacher and also runs a contract winemaking business. Marianna has experience with major fast-moving consumer goods brands globally. The Matthews have converted the main chardonnay block to certified organic and are rehabilitating around 8ha of wetlandswith the local catchment authority.” Halliday Wine Companion

Country

Australia

Primary Region

Gippsland, Victoria

People

Winemaker: Mark Matthews

Availability

National

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