Australia was never ‘anti-terroir’

A boutique Australian producer has spoken out about the country’s reputation for selling “sunshine in a bottle”, claiming winemakers were never anti-terroir.

owner and winemaker Martin Spedding (right)

Ten Minutes by Tractor’s owner and winemaker Martin Spedding (right)

Speaking to the drinks business during a recent trip to London, Martin Spedding, owner and winemaker at Ten Minutes by Tractor in the Mornington Peninsula said: “In the past Australian wine was marketed as sunshine in a bottle but we were never anti terroir.

“Twenty wineries in Australia are responsible for 85% of the volume sales of Australian wine, the rest are doing something completely different. There are around 800 wineries in Victoria and the majority are boutique.

“When you don’t have to do much in the winery you realise things are working well. We found out very early on that Chardonnay and Pinot would help us get the best from our land.”

With the majority of producers in the Mornington Peninsula focusing on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Spedding admitted that competition for sales was fierce but revealed that winemakers in the region rally together unlike Burgundy.

“There’s no quick dollar to be made in the wine world so you end up with a Darwinian process of natural selection where only the super passionate people who are in it for the longterm are left. We share our knowledge and information,” he said.

Founded in 2003, the estate takes its name from the fact that its three vineyards are a ten-minute drive by tractor from each other.

The winery produces three ranges: single vineyard wines, estate wines and the entry-level 10X range, with only around 7-8,000 cases made in total each year.

Spedding admitted that Australia has been guilty of keeping its best wines within the domestic market in a reverse of the export focused New Zealand model.

“We could easily sell all our wine within Australia as we don’t make very much but we’re thinking of the bigger picture as we want the brand recognition,” he said.

Though volumes were down at the estate by 60% last year due to very cool weather during flowering, so there will be little of the 2014 vintage to sell in the UK. The situation is looking a lot more optimistic for the 2015 vintage however.

“The 2015 vintage for us has all the hallmarks of a great year, we managed good volumes and fantastic fruit,” said winemaker Jeremy Magyr.

“In terms of the style of Pinot we’re trying to create, Burgundy is still our benchmark, but the climate here is quite harsh, it’s completely different to Burgundy.

“We seek to attain some of the wonderful things we look for in Burgundy combined with the abundance of fruit you get from the Pinots here.

“Making wines with fantastic fruit isn’t a problem, the challenge is to get the other characteristics like savoury and spicy notes. Pinot Noir is so much more than fruit,” he added.

Ten Minutes by Tractor has just been taken on by Bancroft Wines in the UK, where the single vineyard wines are expected to retail at £45-50 a bottle.

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