It was a real pity to miss Domenic Mondillo at the Pinot Noir Club at Glengarry Thorndon Quay in Wellington recently. His vertical tasting of Mondillo Pinot Noir from 2005 to 2010 would have been a treat to attend, as all of these wines have been extremely successful for him. His inaugural 2004 Pinot Noir didn’t win a gold medal or rate 5-stars, but every vintage since has done that for him, the 2008 a special one taking the Champion Wine of the Show trophy at the 2010 Royal Easter Show Wine Awards.
However, I did manage to spend some time with him a couple of days later and he recounted how the wines appeared to him. The oldest wine at the tasting, the 2005, was still in good condition, on its plateau, and good to start drinking up now. There were a series of ‘feminine’ vintages, being softer, lighter and more approachable, these being the 2006, 2008, which is still very youthful, and the yet-to-be released 2011. Small yields and small berries result in more powerfully structured wines that can be described as ‘masculine’, and the 2005, 2007 and 2009 fit into this model, with the 2010 closer to ‘masculine’ than ‘feminine’. I asked Domenic what he thought 2012 would be like, but he reckoned it was too early to make the call.
Domenic showed his latest wines to me, and I could see the extra weight, richness and togetherness that occurs with bottle age. The Riesling 2011, at 13.0% alc. and 9 g/L rs showing great delicacy, with beautifully subtle sweetness and very fine textures. The juxtaposition of lime-like fruit and minerals near sensational. The Pinot Noir 2010 possessing concentration and intensity of spicy black cherry fruit, with mineral, earth and herb complexities. Both these wines earning their 5-star ratings even more so now.
The key to the consistent quality of the Pinot Noir wine is the favourable site in Bendigo. The Mondillo vineyard is 12 ha, 10 ha planted to Pinot Noir and 2 ha to Riesling. It is sited just north-east of the Quartz Reef vineyards, and has some pretty high-powered, top performing neighbours. Domenic had the experience to choose his site well, as during his time as Gibbston Valley’s viticulturist, he established some of that company’s best vineyards in the area and around the Central Otago region in general. From his plantings, he makes around 2,000 cases of Pinot Noir, the remainder being sold to some high profile producers. Very pleasing to see is the success of the Riesling as well, and the dry Riesling is consistently refined and minerally. Even more pleasing is the showing of his Late Harvest ‘Nina’ Riesling. I’d say the site may be an exceptional one. Domenic won’t say so yet, and he gives credit to winemaker Rudi Bauer preserving the fruit quality and working with him in the styles that the fruit suggests. Ah, modesty… www.mondillo.com