In 1982 nurseryman turned vigneron Garry Crittenden planted two hectares of vines, and in so doing doubled the size of overall plantings on the Mornington Peninsula. It has been suggested he also introduced barbera, nebbiolo, dolcetto and sangiovese to Victoria and Australia. Victoria may be correct, but not Australia: the wealthy Italian construction engineers Carlo Salteri and Franco Belgiorno-Nettis built a 1000-tonne winery in 1974 in Mudgee, and planted 1.5ha of barbera, 1ha of nebbiolo and 0.65ha of sangiovese.

All of which shouldn’t obscure Crittenden’s 40-year contribution to the cause of Australia’s wine, especially through the lens of viticulture. He introduced a vine training system designed to maximise the interception of sunlight, and brought expertise on soil composition (trace elements, good or bad). His energy spilled over from making to marketing and sales.

Winemaker son Rollo and marketer daughter Zoe became joint managing directors four years ago. With their father’s encouragement, they have embarked on the grand ship sustainability in no uncertain fashion. In 2017 they converted the cellar door, office and winery to solar; prior to the 2018 vintage they invested $50,000 to install a waste water treatment plant which permits the discharge of the treated water into the town sewerage system. Previously they tapped into a nearby recycled water outfall for irrigation of the vineyard and the landscaped lawns and gardens.

From the big (a 500 cubic metre compost heap working on a 12-month cycle) to the small (three bee hives improving the pollination and fruitset on the diverse population of fruit trees in the gardens and providing cold-pressed raw honey on the sale at the Wine Centre). And what a Wine Centre it is. Visitors are taken to a table to be seated for a tailored tasting in surroundings akin to home. For $15 per head they taste eight wines from over 20 wines on release at any one time.

Covid-19 has one enduring benefit: ending the jostling at a bar with outstretched arms.

2020 Crittenden Estate Cri de Coeur Pinot Noir

Hand-picked, 60% destemmed, 40% whole bunch, separately fermented, 14 days on skins. Matured in French barriques and puncheons (60% new) for 11 months. A perfumed and spicy bouquet is spotlessly clean, as is the light-bodied yet intense palate. Red and blue fruits hold sway, the oak integrated.

96 points, drink to 2030, 12.8% alc, Diam, $90

2021 Crittenden Estate Kangerong Rose

This is a Rolls Royce Rose: 100% Home Vineyard pinot noir whole bunch-pressed; fermented and matured for 8 months in used French barriques, mlf blocked and the finish is dry. The great ’21 vintage results in a delicious pomegranate-infused wine replete with a touch of citrus.

95 points, drink to 2026, 13% alc, Screwcap, $45

2021 Crittenden Estate Peninsula Chardonnay

Hand-picked, whole bunch-pressed, wild fermented in French oak (5% new), matured for 9 months. 30% mlf gives the wine a creamy cashew nuance to the fig and stone fruit palate; grapefruit makes a final curtain call. Overall, has good line, length and balance.

94 points, drink to 2027, 12.5% alc, Screwcap, $37

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