Ten Minutes By Tractor Wine Company
What a great theme for a wine blogging event. Here in Australia, we are rife with wacky wine names. Sometimes it seems that the wineries deliberately find something crazy to name their wine in a belief that it'll attract the consumer. I guess it works to the extent that the names certainly are noticed! As it is Australia Day today, I decided to try an Australian wine, in a style that isn't too widely grown: pinot noir. Pinot Noir is notoriously difficult to grow, and only done so in a few areas here in the cooler-climates of Victoria and further south in Tasmania, therefore what pinot noir is made here, is usually expensive. If it's not $$$, it's not good. With some wines, that doesn't hold true (you can buy great, everyday shiraz in Australia for less than $10), but this is not the case with pinot noir.
This wine is made by a winery owned by the parents of a friend of mine who sings in my vocal ensemble and the great Pablo boyband. His parents decided to have a sea change and buy a vineyard down on the Mornington Peninsula. It's taken a while, but is now a great success. As my friend has just moved to Cambridge to do a PhD in Latin (as you do), I thought it was a perfect time to open the bottle and think of him.
So, the name....?
Well, I think it certainly fits the wacky criteria. Ten Minutes By Tractor?? Here's the story:
The company belongs to the Judd, McCutcheon and Wallis families, each of which established a six-hectare vineyard a decade ago, but decided to merge the operations in 1999, realising that each of the three properties are only ten minutes by tractor distant from each other. While most of the grapes were and are sold to other winemakers, in 2000 they began making limited quantities of wines under the 10X label (drawing on all three properties) and individual vineyard selection wines from each of the three properties. A number of Melbourne restaurants list the wines, and exports to Hong Kong, San Francisco, New York and London are being developed.
Product Range: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Botrytised Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir Chardonnay, Pinot Noir;
Basically, they realised pretty early on that it was damn hard work, and there wasn't much they could do on their individual vineyards but sell wine to bigger companies, so they formed their own company. I'm not too sure if they spend much time travelling by tractor to each other's property! They produce wines made from combinations of grapes from the three vineyards, and a selection of single-estate wines. The other interesting thing about this company is that I used to sing in a few groups with their winemaker's daughter!! Small world. Both that winemaker and my friend's father used to be surgeons, which seems to indicate the type of precision to detail required for this work!
I had a single-estate pinot noir from my friend's vineyard, which costs about $40-odd dollars in the shops. It has been reviewed well:
James Halliday Mar 20 2002 Rating: 91 out of 100
Light to medium purple-red, bright and clear; the bouquet is clean, the most concentrated of the three individual vineyard pinot noirs, not particularly aromatic. The palate is firm and long, sustained by good tannins; the least immediately attractive of the three wines, but may well develop better than the others. Gold medal Concours du Vin Victoria 2000.
That's a pretty damn high score for an Australian pinot noir, incidentally. We drank it with a duck risotto I made with leftover Peking duck and fresh green beans. The pairing of duck with pinot noir is legendary (at least it is over here. There are even "duck and pinot" walks during the food festival), as the flavours complement each other well. I chilled the wine slightly, as pinot is one the few reds that can benefit from this, especially on a hot summer's evening. I didn't entirely enjoy my first mouthful of it; I found it a bit insubstantial and light and had to remind myself that it was not a big Australian shiraz, which I'm used to drinking. We decided it was probably better with food, which, happily, we can report is certainly the case. The duck risotto complemented and brought out the flavours wonderfully, and they were a perfect pairing; the strong flavours of the duck and the lightness of the wine. Great for summer. Ten Minutes By Tractor, good on you!