Heaven ’17: The Latest From Mount Mary

The relatively cool 2017 season was a wonderful one in the Yarra Valley – and one that played perfectly into the deft hands of the Middleton family, whose striving for supremely elegant wines of beguiling detail knows no bounds.
We’ve enjoyed a string of excellent vintages from this icon of the Yarra. It’s possible that this is the most effortless the four famous wines have ever appeared. They will delight those fortunate enough to get their hands on them – either now or far into their bright future.

The 2017 season
The 2017 growing season saw perfect rainfall accompanied by warm days and cool nights leading into a long Indian summer. This particular set of weather conditions was exactly what inspired John to establish Mount Mary in the Yarra Valley, back in 1971 and more akin to what we experienced through the 90s than to more recent trends. The mild, long and drawn-out growing season enabled flavours to develop slowly and reach full ripeness while grapes maintained exceptional acid balance, vibrancy and freshness. 2017 is the perfect example to describe just how special and unique the Yarra Valley can be as a premium cool-climate wine producing region. The season has delivered wines of exceptional energy, elegance and purity of fruit. – Sam Middleton

2017 Mount Mary Triolet RRP $100
67% Sauvignon Blanc, 23% Semillon, 10% Muscadelle. The 2017 Triolet speaks so clearly of Dr John Middleton’s ideals and vision for this blend. It is a tighter, more restrained example than 2016, while displaying so much underlying power and concentration. The nose shows a vast array of fruit including lemon/lime, honeydew and just-ripe pear. These fruit characteristics are combined with secondary flavours of oyster shell, seashore and brine elements which all add complexity. The palate is medium bodied and displays a beautiful natural acid profile that is matched with an appealing, juicy fruit expression of lychee, melon and red apple. There are phenolics present, as is always the case with our white wines at Mount Mary, but they are so fine grained and well integrated. – Sam Middleton

65% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Semillon, 10% Muscadelle. Hand-picked, barrel-fermented with a range of different cultured yeasts, 11 months in oak (5% new), some large format. The spine of acidity is a feature certain to hold the wine safe in bottle for 10+ years. 96 points. James Halliday, Halliday Wine Companion 2020 August 2019

There are certain years when Triolet really sings, and it’s probably the cooler ones, though I may be wrong. Anyway, they age beautifully, of that much I’m certain. A top-shelf Triolet. So discreet and stylish, yet flavoursome too. Lemon and lime, white pear, fennel and aromatic herbs, floral perfume too, some spiced vanilla biscuit. A subtle gloss to it, but all about line, length and flinty texture, there may be a little guava and apple, but citrus is the main player. Subtle grassy flavour, but nothing overt; it’s a seasoning component here. Brine and crunch to the aftertaste. Impeccable. 96 points. Gary Walsh, The Wine Front September 2019

This has a very rich and complex fruit spectrum in 2017; everything is ripe and offering plenty of primary fruit with lemons, peaches and melon in abundance. The palate has a super plush, sleek and gently fleshy feel with a wealth of yellow-citrus and white-peach flavor. Great spine of acidity too. A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle. Drink or hold. Screw cap. 95 points. Nick Stock, JamesSuckling.com June 2019

2017 Mount Mary Chardonnay RRP $120
Chardonnay remains the premier white grape of the Yarra Valley. In seasons like 2017, we believe it can rival some of the best Chardonnays of the world. Our newest Chardonnay blocks are now approaching 10 years of age, adding an extra layer of clonal diversity to this wine when blended with our older plantings (now reaching 35-45 years of age). The nose of the 2017 Chardonnay opens with citrus characters, lemon curd, some riper melon nuances, along with struck match, toast, and almond meal. The palate is fine, elegant and pure with flavours of citrus, grapefruit, honey and some very appealing toasty oak complexities. The defining feature of this wine on release is the pristine acid line and tremendous length. While the palate shows ample generosity now, expect this wine to build concentration over the next few years as it relaxes a little in bottle. – Sam Middleton

Clones 76, 277, P58, Mendoza, I10V1; the first two are the Bernard/Dijon clones, which are new additions to the vineyard. Hand-picked, destemmed direct to the press, specific yeast selection, fermented and matured in French oak (25-30% new) from various coopers for 11 months. The wine is positively electric/alive with pinpoint precision and length. Mouthwatering, glorious, and will live for decades. 98 points. James Halliday, Halliday Wine Companion 2020

It’s a tight one in 2017, that’s for sure. Lime, lemon and lemon curd, vanilla yoghurt, almond, just a little stuck match. It’s racy but flavoursome, bites down pretty firmly, and doesn’t really let go. Intense quartz-like texture and juicy lime acidity pulses through citrus and tangy pineapple, the finish long and slightly spicy, all chalk and mouth-watering goodness. Hooray for Mount Mary Chardonnay. 96 points. Gary Walsh, The Wine Front September 2019

There’s a complex, mealy and savory side here with a very assertive white-peach, mango and nectarine edge, too. The palate offers intense flavor with intense freshness and the grilled hazelnuts and peaches hold long. Drink now. Screw cap. 95 points. Nick Stock, JamesSuckling.com June 2019

2017 Mount Mary Pinot Noir
RRP $160
John planted Pinot Noir at Mount Mary in 1971. The original block is 1.2 acres in size and contains more than 20 different Pinot clones. The clonal diversity provides such complexity and uniqueness to this wine. Put simply, there has never been a better year in the Yarra Valley for Pinot Noir than 2017. The nose opens with dominant primary fruit but reveals so many other complexities as the wine breathes in the glass. Stewed strawberries, raspberry, cherry and quince make way to beetroot, hints of marzipan, spice and dark chocolate. The palate is medium bodied but is defined by the underlying intensity and length of flavour. There is a fine grain of tannin that runs confidently through this wine, building power while also adding to the savoury characteristics. With its best years still well and truly ahead of it, this is a wine set to age beautifully in the cellar for another decade or more. – Sam Middleton

Vines average age 27yo, hand-picked, bunch-sorted on vibrating tables, open-fermented with cultured yeast, 14 days on skins, matured in French barriques (25-30% new). Glorious colour; the bouquet has the complexity you expect from a 20+yo Burgundy with aromas of field and forest floor. The palate is utterly exceptional, with perfect balance and length. The multitude of flavours swirl and dance – red tree fruits, red cherry foremost, plums close behind, thence to field and forest floor, capturing wild raspberry and strawberry. Sam Middleton thinks this will be one of the all-time greats of Mount Mary, and I’m sure he is right. 99 points. James Halliday, Halliday Wine Companion 2020

There’s much fuss and demand for Mount Mary Pinot Noir, and while it’s very good, my heart (and wallet) will always belong to Quintet. There’s a lot to get your nose around here, that’s for sure. Poached strawberry, raspberry, cherry, mint, spice, chocolate coated marzipan, dried roses, autumnal things, creamy cedar oak. It’s juicy and sweetly fruited, perfumed and succulent, tannin is buried but grips with graphite surety, acidity fresh and like just-picked berries and tangerines, silty and perfumed on the finish. It’s not backwards in coming forward, yet has a latent power and fragrance that will stand it in good stead with considerable bottle age. Excellent release. More to come. 95+ points. Gary Walsh, The Wine Front September 2019

A very plush and attractive Pinot from a great Yarra Valley vintage, this has an air of bright, lightly spicy and sappy cherry fruit, framed in supple, smooth-honed tannins. Drink or hold. 93 points. Nick Stock, JamesSuckling.com June 2019

2017 Mount Mary Quintet RRP $165
45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec, 5% Petit Verdot. Quintet remains the flagship wine of our estate, representing the initial vision Dr John had when discovering this unique site. It’s hard to remember a Quintet that displayed such lifted aromatics on release as this 2017. The nose is particularly vibrant and fruit forward at this early stage, bursting with aromas of cassis, cherry, plum and chocolate. There is a hint of earth/ undergrowth/cigar box here playing second fiddle to the bright expressive fruit. The palate follows on with a similar theme with flavours of blackcurrant, plum, liquorice and chocolate. The tannins and acid profile give this wine such beautiful structure, purity and persistence through the palate – more so than we’ve seen in a young Quintet for quite some time. We’re extremely excited to see how this wine will evolve over the coming 2-3 decades. – Sam Middleton
45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot and 4% Malbec, all vinified separately and matured in French oak (35% new) in various larger vessels and vats. The bouquet is gently  cedary/savoury, and the palate adds herbal/green olive notes to the finish. It’s still to find its feet (all five of them). 95 points. James Halliday, Halliday Wine Companion 2020

Mount Mary has hit a purple patch with their Quintet over the past few vintages, and their Royal Purpleness continues in 2017. Such perfume. It’s head spinningly fragrant. I’m thinking violet, cigar box, nougat, spicy biscuits, mint, chocolate and sweet wet earth, along with a core of intense raspberry, cherry and blackcurrant. It’s medium bodied, lithe but dense, rich cherry chocolate sprinkled with baking spices, crisp cranberry acidity, high pixel tannin, sweetness of fruit with a savoury ferrous edge. The finish is supremely long, all graphite and perfume, crisp definition and aniseed trailing in the aftertaste. Fine and rare. 97 points. Gary Walsh, The Wine Front September 2019

This hits the upper register of vintage quality for this wine, showing a very fresh, youthful and attractive array of redder fruit with gentle, cedary-oak overtones and a light, earthy edge. The palate is so silky and elegant; the fine, ribbon-like tannins hold long and true. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Best from 2025. 96 points. Nick Stock, JamesSuckling.com June 2019