For those unfamiliar with the brand, Kooyong are one of the top new generation wine producers on the Mornington Peninsula.
Principally known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, this is an estate marked by thoughtfully made wines of restraint and detail.
This is the first time, however, I’ve checked in on the Kooyong range (as a whole) since renowned winemaker Sandro Mosele left in 2015.
Sandro was very much the wine figurehead and it’s thus interesting to see how things have evolved. Given that the reigns were seamlessly handed over to his long-time deputy Glen Hayley, however, it’s been an evolution rather than a revolution. A few tweaks here and there in the 16s (when Glen was fully in charge), but otherwise it’s Kooyong’s super high-quality business as usual.
Here’s an interesting point about Kooyong, actually – all of the parcels get treated the same coming into the winery. That means wild ferments, lees ageing, oak maturation etc is the norm, with the selection for what juice goes to what label occurring later.
You can see this A1 approach in the quality of the ’16 Kooyong Massale Pinot. All the flash of a premium Mornington Peninsula Pinot, just for less dollars.
Otherwise, it was interesting to look at the impact of vintage in this lineup, with the ’16 whites just looking a fraction round. One of the earliest vintages ever on the Peninsula, and it shows in broader wines. Should deliver some full-flavoured reds though. By contrast, the 2015 releases below looked very classic, though you’ll need to move quickly, as allocations are apparently tiny – and those Pinots are exceptionally good.
Kooyong Beurrot Pinot Gris 2016
Spends 9 months in older oak. Dry but some palate width. Spiced pear juice but reined in nicely by the acidity. Definitely plump – shows the vintage warmth, and there’s an uneasy acid/fruit diffusive focus here. Easy drink. Best drinking: 2017-2019. 17/20, 90/100. 13.5%, $30. Would I buy it? Not quite.
Kooyong Clonale Chardonnay 2016
Whole-bunch-pressed, wild ferment. Spends 10 months in circa 10% new oak. Fine, minimal oak, maximal freshness. It’s a fresh, early drinking style, but with some sophistication. Shares plenty stylistically with the Gris, and that plump style. Maybe a bit blunt this year though – the balance between upright freshness and flavour isn’t perfect. Best drinking: 2017-2020. 17/20, 90/100. 13.5%, $32. Would I buy it? I’d go a glass.
Kooyong Estate Chardonnay 2016
From the Estate vineyard. Spends 11 months in 15% new oak. No battonage and minimal fining/filtration. Some ferment funk here, before a rather juicy style. Peach juicy! Nice softness this year, much more juicy peach fruit this vintage, though not quite the acid freshness. Lots of appeal, but it doesn’t feel quite classic. Best drinking:2017-2020. 17.5/20, 91/100. 13.5%, $38. Would I buy it? I’d go a glass or two.
Kooyong Faultline Chardonnay 2015
The Faultline block has more clay and less ironstone, producing fuller wines. Similar handling to the other Kooyong Chardonnay wines, with 12 months in 15% new oak. Much more classical Chardonnay Kooyong style here. Cool, finely mealy, tight style. Chablis inspired, no doubt. Creamy peach character still here; a signature of the vineyard. This is very fresh but with some weight, with no malolactic fermentation so it retains that freshness through the finish. It’s not super linear but there is a lovely acid driven vibrancy here, sometimes too fresh. Would it be better if it went through malo, just to fill it out a little? Nice wine regardless. Best drinking: 2017-2022. 18/20, 93/100. 13%, $60. Would I buy it? I’d drink it, but buy the Farrago instead.
Kooyong Farrago Chardonnay 2015
By contrast, Farrago is clay with some ironstone pebbles. This is a step up in concentration after the Faultline, but also it seems stonier too. A line of funk, then oatmeal before a meets rather cool and sophisticated fruit. Hangs it’s hat on acid. Great length! Maybe a smidgen sweet and sour, but the palate is classy, with a slow build of cool nectarine fruit and thirst quenching acidity. Top flight, crystalline modern Chardonnay if just a smidgen lean. Best drinking: 2017-2024. 18.5/20, 94/100. 13%, $60. Would I buy it? Yes.
Kooyong Massale Pinot Noir 2016
Sourced from the Tuerong and Balnarring Vineyards. Wild ferment, 11 months in 15% new oak. Such a lovely wine! Bright raspberry fruit aplenty and so juicy! Lots of lovely fruit in a plush and round form. It’s not super long, but the instant appeal here can’t be overstated. Yes from me. Best drinking: 2017-2021. 17.7/20, 92/100. $32. Would I buy it? Yes! It’s fun and delicious.
Kooyong Pinot Noir 2013
So odd that this is still the current release in retail land. Terracotta creeping in on the colour. A smack of volatility. Forward and meaty, with slightly warm roasted fruit and blood and bone. Faintly astringent and there’s a raw edge. Not much joy here for mine. Acidity looks out of place too. Long, but going nowhere good. Best drinking: 2017. 16/20, 87/100. 13.5%, $48. Would I buy it? No.
Kooyong Haven Pinot Noir 2015
From the most sheltered part of the nearly 20-year-old Kooyong vineyard. 14 months in oak, 25% new. Unfined and unfiltered. Sappy and fresh, there’s a lick of caramel oak here but enough to distract. Juicy and fresh, but has a lovely sappy edge, there’s a great balance here between vinous red fruit, some structural oak and then a tight finish. The more open of the Kooyong single block Pinots, yet fresh too. Nice wine. Best drinking: 2017-2022. 18/20, 93/100. 13.5%, $75. Would I buy it? Expensive, but classy. I’d share a bottle.
Kooyong Meres Pinot Noir 2015
The most exposed block and the lowest yielding block. Similar handling to the Haven. 15% whole bunches. Probably the most stems in this wine yet according to Glen – but fits the vintage. A different wine in this lineup. There’s a more savoury character here and some whole bunch spice. Lovely tilt between raspberry fruit and then a supporting structure. Real dark fruits, firm tannins. Structure! Very composed and classy, slightly firmer style. Careful oak. Clever. Will be better next year too. Best drinking: 2018-2025. 18.5/20, 94/100. 13%, $75. Would I buy it? Yes, but 1 bottle for every 5 Ferrous.
Kooyong Ferrous Pinot Noir 2015
More ironstone pebbles here in the soil here. 30% whole bunches, otherwise similar handling to Meres and Haven. Easily the pick of the wines here. Ferrous by name and ferrous by nature, it’s so dark and savoury. Really striking power. Is it too muscular? Super firm and striking depth. What a powerhouse! That length is exceptional. Super class, muscular Mornington Pinot. Almost reminds me of a Martinborough Pinot actually. Super. Best drinking: 2018-2026. 18.7/20, 95/100. 13.5%, $75. Would I buy it? Yes.