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Pinot Grigio and Merlot shine at Norfolk Rise
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With vintage 2008 now safely in the winery, Norfolk Rise Vineyard winemaker Kristen McGann takes a few moments to reflect on what looks to be a high quality vintage for Norfolk Rise and the Mount Benson region. Blessed by its costal location, which insulated the region from an unseasonably hot autumn, the 2008 season in Mount Benson was vastly different from the one faced by many other regions throughout the country.
Looking at everything that has come in, McGann believes that in 2008 the unique characteristics of Mount Benson are really standing out.
“I have been particularly pleased with how well everything has come together this year. The flavour profiles are really good and the baumé levels are not too high either. We are in a pretty unique location here and this year it really helped us,” McGann said.
Situated between the coastal towns of Kingston and Robe on the southern tip of South Australia, Mount Benson and the Norfolk Rise Vineyards benefit from a unique micro climate. McGann says that the vineyards close proximity to the ocean helped dramatically in moderating the temperature throughout an unusually hot March.
“Our vineyards are within 5 kilometres of the ocean – this gave us a bit of insulation from the extreme heat.”
McGann has been very happy with the fruit quality received, “Our viticultural team did a fantastic job, the quality of fruit that came into the winery was outstanding and the outlook for the 2008 wines is very promising. At this early stage, pinot grigio and merlot appear to be stand-out performers yet again. I think that the Mount Benson region produces these two varietals particularly well.”
“Across the board the standard of fruit from our vineyard was very high – there were really good flavour profiles and the average baumé was just 13.36. Our highest baumé level was just 14.2 so to be in this position with all of our varietals is really pleasing.
“This is also the first year that we have gotten fruit from several new clones of merlot and the colour and fruitiness of the juice is very appealing,” McGann said.
At just 600 hectares in size, Mount Benson is one of the smallest GI’s in Australia and the lesser known of the regions that make up the renowned Limestone Coast. The fertile and free draining nature of the limestone provides the base for the ‘terra rossa’ soils that have made the region famous. Like the better known areas of Coonawarra, Padthaway and Wrattonbully, the soil profile of Mount Benson is characterised by rich ‘terra rossa’ soils over fossilised limestone. The combination of maritime climate, nutrient rich soils and limestone deposits give wines from Mount Benson a unique regional flavour.
When Kreglinger Australia purchased the Norfolk Rise Vineyard site in 2000 their faith in the Mount Benson region was demonstrated by their level of investment; a 200 hectare vineyard and state-of-the-art winery. The 2008 vintage looks to further confirm what Kreglinger believed when they initially invested in the region.