Kathleen Quealy has been plying her trade on the Peninsula for decades, with husband and winemaking partner in crime Kevin McCarthy. We can thank her for the introduction of Pinot Gris to this country, but since creating her namesake label (following the sale of T’Gallant) and adding her son Tom to the winemaking squad, Pinot Noir has become a calling card. Pinot Noir makes up almost half of the Mornington Peninsula plantings and the last decade has seen a massive increase in quality. Good sites, vine age, sensible farming, committed producers and careful winemaking have made it one of the reference points for juicy, firm, red fruited Pinot Noir. Quealy exemplify this, with four sites spread from Balnarring to Main Ridge, some now converted to certified organic farming.
The wines through the Quealy range are stunning and great value. Skin contact whites are worth exploring for those that like the natural leaning style made with thought and cleanliness. Though this week it is Pinot Noir, and the first tier ‘Mornington Peninsula’ Pinot that comes from the blend of Kathleen’s four sites. Blending the sites may not give the perfect thumbprint of a vineyard, though it does let the winemaker use their skills in crafting a wine that is more balanced and approachable as a young wine.
Kathleen and Kevin nurture every vine that goes into this bottle. The fruit is handpicked and macerated on skins prior, during and post ferment for up to 30 days. This is confident winemaking, drawing out the flavour and tannin from the delicate Pinot grape. It then goes into oak (predominantly old) for 15 months, resting until after the following vintage before blending, racking and bottling. This 15 months elevage is a luxury most producers aren’t afforded, especially at this price point.
The result, from a warmish 2019 vintage, is a full flavoured, red fruited, sumptuous, and delicious bottle of Mornington Pinot. Flavours are loaded with red and black cherry, wild strawberry, plums, rhubarb, and baking spice. The palate is medium bodied pushing full (no light and limp Pinot here), silky tannin and driving length. It’s made for food too, try with seafood spreads with rich Mediterranean sides. Drink by the end of 2024