Kooyong is planted to 40 hectares of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris between an altitude of 105 and 120m above sea level. The first vines were planted in 1996 and the original blocks comprise five distinct sites of which three are planted to Pinot Noir and two to Chardonnay. As our viticultural understanding of the property has developed we have planted two more sites to Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, applying a higher density planting model.
The cultural practices of Kooyong respect and nurture the inherent character of each of the vineyard sites. All vines are hand cane pruned in Winter. In Spring, shoot thinning removes excess shoots and optimises canopy density, and then vertical shoot positioning further promotes appropriate fruit exposure through the ripening period. If the season is tending towards higher yields, bunches are thinned out at veraison to focus the intensity of flavour in remaining clusters. The fruit is then handpicked at flavour maturity, as is all the fruit we process.
The best section of each vineyard is reserved for the Single Vineyard wines. The better of the remaining parcels then make up the Kooyong Estate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and the remaining wines are blended to produce the Massale Pinot Noir and the Clonale Chardonnay. Due to consistency of quality parameters for each parcel, the same parcels of fruit tend to be used for the same wines each year.
The soils of Kooyong are distinctive. The bedrock found at depth is sedimentary: an ancient weathered sandstone dating back to the Ordovician period some 450 million years ago. The surface soils are sedimentary also, only this time laid down by a marine incursion which occurred during the Miocene epoch 5-10 million years ago.
Because the tidal deposition was relatively shallow and the site is quite gently undulating, it means that although Kooyong’s soils are classed overall as a Duplex Clay Loam, different parts of the vineyard express differing percentages of sand, loam and clay. These differences influence the flavours of the wines from each vineyard markedly. Importantly also, the marine transgression also brought in granules of sandstone, sometimes encrusted with iron oxide. These sandstone and ironstone pebbles are found in great numbers in some areas, less in others.
The silicaceous influence from the sand in the pebbles imparts minerality to the terroir of Kooyong wines, and the ironstone where present further complex the wines, adding a characteristic firmness and masculinity to structure already present. Lastly, because the sediments deposited were highly weathered to begin with, the Kooyong soils are poor in fertility. This affords us good control of vine vigour.
The largest vineyard at Kooyong, Faultline is planted predominantly to Chardonnay, but with a small section of Pinot Noir in an area where the soils are characterised by a friable dark brown loamy clay. Although in line with the Farrago vineyard to the west, the Faultline block is less sloping and a geological fault runs along the south-western end, beyond which the soil becomes quite poorly drained and unsuitable for viticulture. Before this fault however the soils are better drained and reasonably high in organic matter. There are few sandstone pebbles present in the Faultline vineyard and the resulting Chardonnay is always richer and fuller than Farrago. The wines are defined by a generosity of texture whilst still supported by Kooyong’s inherent minerality.
Exclusively planted to Chardonnay, this small site is gently north-sloping. Here the sediments range from being higher in sand to higher in clay. The best fruit within the vineyard comes from the more clayey zone but here the soil here has a mottled appearance due to high sandstone pebble content, hence the vineyard's name Farrago, meaning ‘a mixture’. The Farrago Chardonnay is defined by a very linear character with strong silicaceous minerality. At its best, this is the premier white wine with the greatest ageing potential.
The Meres vineyard is planted entirely to Pinot Noir, barring a tiny quarter acre annexe planted to Pinot Gris. Located along the eastern boundary of Kooyong, the name Meres alludes to water bodies - in this case the dams which flank the block on all sides. This gently sloping block is quite exposed and confers reduced vigour and yield. The soil also shows a marked difference to the other Pinot Noir vineyards, having a less loamy topsoil, higher clay content in the subsoil and the least prevalence of sandstone pebbles. The combination of the soils, exposure and low vigour produces Pinot Noirs of high aromaticity and perfume, red fruits, a more feminine structure and sometimes a slightly lighter colour than the other Kooyong single site Pinot Noirs. Although it will improve very well with age, Meres is typically the most approachable of the three when young.
Planted exclusively to Pinot Noir. The name Haven refers to it being the most sheltered of the vineyard sites. It is a relatively level site surrounded by thick tree belts which protect it from strong winds. The soils are classed as a duplex loam over clay, have a higher percentage of loam and a moderate amount of sandstone pebbles interspersed through the soil profile. The lack of exposure to strong winds allows the vines to keep a canopy of rich green until comparatively late in the ripening period and the resulting Haven wines always possess fruit in the more purplish spectrum, with a certain richness and lushness. Regal and poised, Haven shows excellent capacity for aging.
Planted exclusively to Pinot Noir, Ferrous lies east of and adjacent to the Haven vineyard. It is a more sloping block than Haven, therefore more rapidly draining, and is also much less protected from winds - a little like Meres. The free drainage and lack of protection from the elements results in greater stress being placed upon the Ferrous vines, which keeps yields down. The principle distinction for the Ferrous vineyard lies in its having a great prevalence of ironstone pebbles in the soil. The environmental conditions, combined with the ferric influence of the ironstone results in concentrated wines of a rather masculine nature and tannins with a significant presence and deep colour - characteristics which confer Ferrous great ageing potential.