It is tempting to say that thanks to altitude - 300m to 800m above sea level - this is a very cool region with the capacity to make some of Australian mainland's finest sparkling wines. But it is much more than that.
There are over 40 wineries across the Region and its not surprising that the majority of them should nominate pinot noir as producing their flagship wine. Thereafter, it is a diverse spread: shiraz, chardonnay, sparkling riesling, gerwurtztraminer, pinot gris, nebbiolo, lagrein and cabernet sauvigon, to name a few.
Despite this varietal spread, the cool climate has a unifying influence on the style of wines. They are more perfumed than their warmer region counterparts: they are usually in the light to medium bodied spectrum; and finally, the natural acidity not only preserves the freshness of the wines, but increases the length of the palate and after taste.
By James Halliday
The predominance of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the vineyards confirms the suggestion that this is an extremely good region for the production of sparkling wine. The intense flavours and high natural acidity of the base wines encourages the use of both traditional and newer winemaking processes to produce wines with great character and individuality.
Here the match of climate and wine style is immediately obvious with both old and new arrivals producing wines of unimpeachable varietal character. Fine and tending to be lighter bodied in style in the cooler vintages yet more robust and ‘chunky’ in those of warmer years, these are wines of exceptional merit in the line up of Australian Pinots.
There is a diversity of styles of Chardonnay produced in the region. They are elegant, lightly structured and potentially long lived wines, sometimes showing quartzy minerally flavours which can be expected from plantings on and around Mount Macedon. The warmer years give more full flavoured styles, as do the warmer sites in the lower altitude and more northerly parts of the region.
While not statistically impressive, this grape produces some of the region’s best white wine, with fine, intense, lime juice aroma and flavour in a distinctly Germanic style that ages wonderfully well.
Given that this is a relatively late ripening variety, generally found in warm to hot regions where it is considered to do best, it may come as a surprise to learn that the north of the region is eminently suitable for Shiraz. The Macedon Ranges, was the first region to introduce consumers to the striking pepper, spice, liquorice and black cherry aromas and flavours of genuinely cool climate Shiraz. At times eerily similar to the wines of the northern Rhone Valley of France, this style has added a third dimension to Shiraz in Australia.
These are generally grown in the warmer parts of the region - in the North, around Kyneton to the West around Daylesford and in the lower areas such as Riddells Creek to the South-East. Some of the Varieties grown are: Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Tempranillo and some Italian varieties including the rare Lagrein.
Aromatic grape varieties tend to grow well in the cooler areas of the region such as around Lancefield and Romsey. Some of the more popular varieties include: Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.