Gippsland’s coveted drop of wine

GIPPSLAND has been named as one of the “five regions to watch” for producing Chardonnay by one of the most revered sommeliers.

James Halliday of the Australian Wine Companion gave Glengarry winery Narkoojee a rating of 97 among his latest tasting notes of the varietal, with other contenders hailing from the Hunter Valley, Beechworth and Denmark, Western Australia.

It is among two wineries in Gippsland to receive the connoisseur’s coveted five red star rating.

Narkoojee father and son winemakers Harry and Axel Friend said Gippsland was not the “automatic destination” when it came to wine destination regions, many favouring popular spots like the Yarra Valley and the Mornington Peninsula.

But Chardonnay, a cool climate variety, is considered to thrive in the rainy and cool country.

“This is good for Gippsland and Gippsland tourism and will attract people to the area,” the Friend family said.

Kristen Hardiker of Cannibal Creek Vineyards said Gippsland was finally getting the recognition it deserved, with a diverse range of local wineries offering high quality drops, personalised attention from the wine makers and accompanying produce.

Ms Hardiker concurred Gippsland was a hidden gem for wine.

“We’re so busy with growing and making wine that it’s often hard to get out there and get media attention, but we get people who are amazed at the level of quality and ask, ‘how come we haven’t heard about you?’,” Ms Hardiker said.

She said wine makers in the region put a lot of care into their cellar doors, offering the highest tiers of wine to taste and enjoy.

“When you visit you’re talking to wine makers who are intimately involved in the process,” Ms Hardiker said. Cellar door manager Justin Wooler at Wild Dog Winery in Warragul said the area was growing its reputation for Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs.

Mr Wooler said Gippsland was on the “cusp” as a relatively young wine region. He said the Warragul winery was 30 years old, but most vineyards in the region hovered around the 10 to 15 year mark.

“It’s a place for young wines and young wine makers,” he said.

“It’s a favourite for wine makers that want to push the limits and produce different styles.”