I sold my 1957 Studebaker President to buy the fenceposts for our first vineyard at Moondarra. Our Studebaker Pinot Noir is the most accessible of the three Pinot Noir wines we produce. The fruit is completely crushed and destemmed before fermentation.
When drained to oak we use 500-litre puncheons rather than 225-liter Burgundy barriques. Mostly Remond Alier and low-toast, MTL. These larger vessels offer a fabulous way for the wine to interact with the yeast lees without adding oak tannin, rather relying on fruit tannin to give structure to the wine. When tipsy I can sing you a love song about my old car, a modern masterpiece in design by Raymond Lowey!
My dear friend Mitsuo makes duck tataki which sings with Studebaker and a drop of ponsu.
Pinot Noirs with funkosité.
Our early vintages were made with Bruce Dowding and David Creed. Bruce worked many vintages with Jacques Frederic Mugnier in Musigny, where Guy Accad was consulting. David was dux in his year at Roseworthy and is perhaps the greatest winemaking intellect I have encountered. Accad’s legacy is our extended pre-ferment cold-maceration and our vigorous pigeage by foot throughout fermentation, three to four times daily. This brings colour and extract from the skins. David is in draining our wines to barrel at dryness without settling, retaining all the yeast lees in the wine in barrel. This brings a chocolate, mocha flavour to the mid-palate of the wine.
We pick small buckets of fruit about a week before harvest and foot-crush them. They are left in various parts of the vineyard to ferment spontaneously. If these ferments are sound, we use them to inoculate the Pinot Noir harvested a week later. All will be different, so we try and use as many as possible across the various ferments. If any of the ferments become excessively volatile, I’ll sprinkle a very small amount of commercial yeast on top to continue the ferment and clean it up.
I’m comfortable with low levels of volatility and I use two different yeast: RC212 and BM45. Both produce high levels of glycerol, adding ‘slipperiness’ or ‘silkiness’ to the wine. I attribute ‘wild ferment’ character not to ‘wild’ or indigenous yeast, rather to a long and slow fermentation. Over a long fermentation, the yeast finds the ethanol being produced becomes toxic; and they produce mucyl polyglycerides and glycyl polysaccharides as a defensive response. These complex flavours are most appealing and add volume and complexity to the finished wine.
We do not inoculate for malolactic fermentation, rather allow it to proceed naturally in barrel. If this process is unhurried it can produce characteristics we taste as ‘hung game’: cadavericine and putrescine. The wines are not racked until bottling and we resist adding sulphur until this stage, usually about 20 ppm. The wines are not filtered, retaining a rich texture as well as aromatic lift. I feel filtering ‘beats up’ aromatics and subtlety of the wine.
To me, these techniques enable funkosité, our trademark Moondarra, style.
The fruit is all hand-picked and processed on-site at Moondarra. Winemaking varies slightly for each of the Pinot’s, influenced by the differences in terroir, to highlight these nuances in flavour. All the wines are grown on deep, volcanic soils. These are free-draining and rich in minerals, bringing robust, ferrous flavour to our Pinot Noirs.