The Macedon Ranges is Australia's coolest mainland wine region. Only an hour north-west of Melbourne, the Macedon Ranges features towns such as Daylesford and Hepburn Springs which include the largest concentration of naturally occurring mineral springs in Australia.
The region boasts award-winning restaurants; provedores stocked with the best local preserves, farm gates selling the freshest seasonal fruits and vegetables, cheeses and meats. Compared the climate of many of Australia’s wine regions, the Macedon Ranges is quite different. It ranges from extremely cold in its windswept south-east and very cold in its north-west. The region is uniquely suited to the production of sparkling wine, but also manages to produce table wines from Riesling, through Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, to Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Australia 's coolest wine region on the mainland.
The region is currently home to around 130 wineries/vineyards.
The regions first vineyards were planted in the mid-1880s.
Largest concentration of naturally occurring mineral springs in Australia.
Well suited to the production of sparkling wine, the region also produces table wine styles from Riesling, Chardonnay. Pinot Noir and peppery Shiraz. The region also produces Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Site selection (altitude, protection from wind and spring frosts, and maximum sun interception from north and north-east facing slopes), the careful matching of site and grape variety, canopy management and relatively low yields are all prerequisites for success. Even then success will not come every year - those few extra degrees of heat as well as extra hours of sunshine of the warmer Melbourne summers are needed to get the best results.
The majority of the soils are relatively skeletal mountain soils, most typically granitic sandy loams which further restrict yields. However, there are patches of deep loams in valleys and on the lower slopes and occasional plains. Relatively low yields are in fact a blessing in disguise, for in many years higher yields would not ripen past sparkling wine levels.
Chardonnay: Fine, elegant and potentially long lived wines often fuller flavoured styles with great complexity.
Riesling: Produces some of the State’s best of this variety. Fine, intense, lime juice aroma and flavour that ages wonderfully well.
Pinot Noir: Fine and lighter bodied in style in the cooler vintages, more robust and fuller bodied in warmer years. These wines are rated among the finest of Australian Pinots.
Shiraz: Due to the regions climate, the wines are genuinely cool climate in style. Striking pepper, spice, liquorice and black cherry aromas are hallmarks of the region. This style has helped add a third dimension to Shiraz in Australia.
Cabernet Sauvignon and Blends: Its greatest expression is as a blended wine with either Shiraz or Merlot, but it also thrives in warm years as a single varietal.
Sparkling Wine: There are a number of high profile boutique brands within the region and the leading makers have been prepared to use the full range of techniques to produce wines with great character and individuality.
Map Coordinates: 37° 25´ S
Altitude: 300 - 700 metres (984 - 2296 feet)
Heat degree days, October - April: 970-1050 (cut off at 19º C (66.2ºF) but otherwise not adjusted)
Growing season rainfall, October - April: 290-370 millimetres (11.4-14.5 inches)
Mean January temperature: 17.2-18.5º C (63-65.3º F)
Relative humidity, October - April, 3 pm: Average 51%
Harvest: Mid March - early June
John Ellis, Winemaker & Managing Director, Hanging Rock Winery, Macedon Ranges, Victoria
John Ellis’s passion to make great Australian sparkling wine in the style of Bollinger and Krug bought him to the cold climate Macedon Ranges, where he first planted Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in 1983. John was no stranger to breaking ground in the Australian wine industry. In the late 1970s and early 1980s he was the first to blend Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and produce a cool climate Chardonnay in commercial quantities.
In 1983 there were few producers making sparkling wine from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the traditional method," John says. "I saw there was real potential to make a sparkling wine that would stand up against the world’s best. The Macedon Ranges was the perfect spot. Our vineyard, The Jim Jim, is at 700-metre elevation and south-facing, with a direct line to Antarctica."
To achieve a fuller, richer style John needed to aim for as much yeast flavour as possible. All the base wines for the Macedon products are barrel fermented, with full malolatic fermentation. Back vintages of these wines are blended and kept in barrels, not unlike the solera systems used to make Sherry. The wine is then tirage bottled after an average of four years in barrel.
"In 2006 we realised a long-term dream, Macedon LD. This wine spends an average of four years on yeast lees in barrel and 10 years on lees in the bottle. The result is an elegant, creamy and yet very complex sparkling wine. It’s a very special wine to us."