There are a lot of big-name cellar doors that you know on the Peninsula, fantastic pioneers of viticulture that don’t need much of an introduction to our local readers — Paringa, Elgee Park, Crittenden and Stonier, to name just a few. Lesser-known than all these are the micro-producers who bubble at the fringes and often pop up with stellar releases that deserve to be found. True nuggets of gold! Their wines are produced from less than 20 tonnes of fruit so are obviously hard to get, but they are great once found and are to be enjoyed as unicorn wines with your fellow wine-lover.
Allies Assemblage Pinot Noir 2018 $32
Allies was born in 2003 by David Chapman, a former chef and sommelier who was working at Moorooduc Estate under the tutelage of master maker Richard McIntyre. This is his three-vineyard blend, while upstairs he has site-specific wines each named after the townships of Tuerong, Merricks and Balnarring. Production may be small, but David is full of energy and few manage to articulate the specificity of site once the wine is in glass as well as ‘Chappy’.
Garagiste Le Stagiaire Riesling 2018 $30
Winemaker Barney Flanders notes that this is “way better than Alsace” — but what would he know? Actually, this is pretty good. The fruit from these 30-year-old vines is hand-picked and whole-bunch pressed to old barriques, and in 2018 Barney has made a trio of delights under the increasingly impressive Le Stagiaire label. The fermentation is spontaneous and the wine spends eight months nourishing on its ferment lees before bottling. It’s a cracking release for sure.
Bellingham Estate Pinot Noir 2018 $35
A real hinterland insider’s wine, the Bellingham Estate vineyard perches high in Main Ridge facing perfectly northeast in a swathe of sunshine. A tiny plot of 1ha, it was planted in 1996 and is really coming to the fore of maturity, showing fruit presence and a lovely silky texture. Pinot noir at this level cannot be fluked, so it is testament to owner Ian Walker that his well-thought-out and precise nature is brimming in his wine.