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translation missing: en.Gippsland: Gippsland

Welcome to the Victorian Wine Region series, where every week we feature select wine regions from the expanse of Victoria's charming hills and luscious fields. Subscribe to our newsletter today or view other articles in this series to learn more about the wines of the region. 

Location:

Covering a vast area of South Eastern Victoria, the Gippsland Zone stretches from the eastern outskirts of Melbourne, to the north-eastern New South Wales border. The southern part of Gippsland borders the Bass Strait, while the western border abuts the Yarra Valley. It is the largest Victorian region by area, by a considerable amount, however under the rules of the Australian Geographic Indication (AGI), it is classified as a zone with no official regions or sub-regions. Despite this lack of official regions and sub-regions, Gippsland is still home to a multitude of different wine-producing areas, that vary greatly from one another, producing a wide variety of wines and styles.

It is a relatively new region compared to others in Victoria, with the oldest vines planted in the 1970s. But through innovative practices and clever viticultural solutions, it is fast emerging as a fantastic cool-climate area.

Terroir:

Given the vast area that Gippsland covers, it's hard to categorise an overall terroir for the region. There are a few constants, however. Firstly, the climate across the region is cool (though it certainly varies across the zone). Secondly, the average rainfall for Gippsland is relatively high. This means that there is a fair amount of disease pressure on vignerons and viticulturalists that needs to be managed. But we can also separate Gippsland into several distinctive, though unofficial, sub-regions based on climate and topography.

Southern Gippsland is the coolest part, with a strong maritime influence from the cooling winds coming off the Bass Strait. This Bass Strait influence creates a high diurnal temperature range, meaning plenty of warm daylight hours for ripening, then a cool change over night which gives the vines a break and helps to retain natural acidity. The soils in Southern Gippsland Soils vary significantly, ranging from dark black loams to lighter sandy soils in the grey to grey-brown spectrum with mottled, yellow to red clayey subsoils.

Western Gippsland is also cool-climate but warmer than the South and more continental in its aspect, taking a strong influence from the snowfields of the Great Dividing Range. Soils here are rich and fertile, comprised mainly of deep red friable soils over volcanic basalt. Fog and mists throughout the cool spring mornings can cause real headaches for vignerons, if the vines are not managed properly.

Finally, there is East Gippsland, which enjoys a more Mediterranean climate, with cool temperatures and generally lower rainfall. There is a lightly moderating influence from the tempering sea breezes, keeping temperatures stable, and allowing the grapes a longer ripening period. Soils here range from sandy alluvial with clay and silt near the coast, to more brown loams over sandstone as you move west.

One thing is certain - although Gippsland is classified as a single Zone, Western Gippsland is nothing like Southern Gippsland, which is completely different to East Gippsland; one, giant homogenous region simply doesn't exist.

Varieties:

Like many other cooler Victorian wine regions, Gippsland has proved to have a great climate for growing excellent Pinot Noir. Across the region as a whole Pinot does very well, but given the region's size and variation in weather patterns, geology and topography, it would be remiss to pigeonhole it. Each area of Gippsland produces a wide array of Pinots, based on their particular terroir.

Along with Pinot, its favourite stablemate, Chardonnay, also does very well in Gippsland. Again, the cooler climates produce a lighter, more pure expression of Chardonnay, which can range from intense and age-worthy wines, to more elegant, mineral-driven styles.

Given its size, Gippsland is home to many other wine varieties too, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Riesling, which all do well. But a few producers are starting to experiment with alternative varities such as Chenin Blanc, Gamay and Aligote, which makes Gippsland an exciting region to watch.

Producers:

William Downie, Patrick Sullivan, Philippa Farr, Bass Phillip, Lithostylis, The Wine Farm, Momento Mori, Fleet, Dirty Three.

 

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