News of a fire causing significant damage at Mornington Peninsula winery, Ten Minutes by Tractor, hit the airwaves a couple of weeks ago. Fortunately, no one was hurt. Sadly, a significant portion of its museum collection of wine – valued at around half a million dollars – was destroyed, as were several vintage tractors (a 1928 Fordson and 1938 Allis Chalmers, both of which owner Martin Spedding had intended to include in an on-site museum).
Words by Drinks Writer, Ken Gargett
No one deserves such a tragedy, of course, but there are some people for whom it seems even more unfair. Ten Minutes by Tractor is one of the success stories of Australian wine, not to mention that it is run by a team of extremely competent and nice people. Not only have they elevated their own wines to the highest level, but they are tireless workers of promoting their region.
The wines that were lost date back to 2007, though fortunately, they had other stocks stored off the property. Crucially, both the winery and their superb restaurant were not damaged. The restaurant is run by chef Adam Sanderson, who has experience at both Noma and The Fat Duck. It has an extensive and highly awarded wine list with more than 400 selections, the focus of which is on great chardonnay and pinot noir from around the world. A must-visit when you are in the region (when it is back up and running).
The curious name of the winery comes from the simple concept that its three key vineyards are ten minutes apart if one travels by tractor. Spedding took over back in 2004 and has since then expanded the vineyards, as well as locked up other key sites with long-term contracts.
Consultant, Richard McIntyre, who also has his own winery, Moorooduc Estate, heads up the winemaking team. The focus is on chardonnay and pinot noir, though they also make rosé, sauvignon blanc, pinot gris and a sparkling.
The pinnacle of their efforts are the Estate and Single Vineyard wines. Judd, McCutcheon and Wallis are the three vineyards which have featured for many years, with new ones both in use and in the pipeline – Winebar, Spedding and Coolart Road.
I could implore you to purchase their wines to assist a winery in need, though I have no doubt that Spedding and his team will soon have the operation humming again. So, forget the altruistic aspect. Buy these wines because they are seriously good. Do it for yourself.
The Ten Minutes by Tractor Single Vineyard wines sit around the $60-$80 mark, with the Estate wines around $45-$50. You may feel that the Single Vineyard wines are at the expensive end of the spectrum but instead, I would suggest that you think of them as fantastic value. If you can find something from those famed golden slopes of Burgundy at this price, which comes within the proverbial bull’s roar of this quality, please let us know.
Here is my pick of slightly older wines from the winery. I have not done current wines only as many of these do sell out quickly. They also age superbly…
2015 ESTATE CHARDONNAY
A finely crafted wine, blended from individual sites across the Peninsula, the best of which make up each vintage’s Single Vineyard releases – the team call them field blends. This vintage came from the three top vineyards – Wallis (53%), Judd (27%) and McCutcheon (20%). The result is a refreshing, tight chardy with notes of guava, peach, Asian food market spices and underlying grapefruit. Good length. A wine which will drink well for at least another half a dozen years (92 points).
2015 MCCUTCHEON CHARDONNAY
A powerful style of wine. The iron fist in the velvet glove. Tropical notes emerge along with rock melon and mango flavours. This is exhibiting a higher level of weight and intensity than the Estate Chardy. A good grapefruit-like acid bite. Nicely balanced. There is excellent length here.
A hint of oatmeal. A stunning Aussie chardonnay with a decade ahead of it (94 points).
2013 WALLIS CHARDONNAY
Tight, yet still expressive with good integration and balance. Finely crafted. Stonefruit notes throughout. Citrus – most notably a hint of grapefruit – melon and a hint of beeswax. Finesse and length here. This is Grand Cru Mornington Peninsula Chardy, if I do say so myself. It has a good future ahead, though it may not reach the heights of the stellar 2012. For me, it is not uncommon for the Wallis to emerge as the pick of the Single Vineyard chardonnays (94 points).
2015 COOLART ROAD PINOT NOIR
Only the second release of this wine, following on from the 2013. To be honest, it would not be my first pick among the Single Vineyard pinots, but any new wine is to a wine critic like that well-tied fly to a trout – irresistible. It is sappy and savoury with raspberry and other red fruits – a hint of blueberries if one looks. Florals. Drink this while waiting for the other ’15 vintages to come around (92 points).
2012 JUDD PINOT NOIR
This is one of my all-time favourites from Ten Minutes. The nose is immediately beguiling. It draws you in and never let’s go. There is so much happening here. Spices, blueberries, coffee beans, florals. Immaculately balanced. Fine backing of acidity. Finishes with a hint of sour maraschino cherries. Very long finish with the peacock’s tail emerging. Great length on the finish. This looks terrific at the moment, but it is only taking its first steps on a long and undoubtedly impressive journey (97 points).