Coverdale making his mark

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Sam Coverdale of Polperro and Even Keel wines is one of the exciting young winemakers plying his trade in southern Victoria. He’s based on the Mornington Peninsula but also buys grapes further afield.

Specialising in pinot noir and chardonnay – no surprises there – he produces wines in a style that is very much his own: idiosyncratic but no doubt reflective of the vineyard sites he works with. The pinot noirs can be deceptively pale coloured and impressively character-filled; the chardonnays are low-alcohol and complex with malolactic used to good effect. His 2013 Pinot Gris (tasting) is simply one of the best I have tasted recently. His riesling (tasting) and shiraz (labelled syrah – tastings) from Canberra District vineyards are superb, and his contacts in that region hark back to his formative years as a winemaker at Hardy’s now-defunct Kamberra winery, where he worked with Nick O’Leary and Alex McKay (Collector Wines). Coverdale also makes a Tumbarumba chardonnay (tastings): he is one of an adventurous young breed who don’t feel constrained by state or regional borders. Even Keel is his label for wines up to about $40 retail; Polperro is his premium label, for single-vineyard Mornington Peninsula wines, with prices ranging from around $45 to $60.

Coverdale is a well-trained and travelled winemaker. He took a degree in wine science at Charles Sturt University and worked in wineries in France, Spain and Italy as well as Australia before heading for the peninsula.

If making fine wine was not enough to occupy his mind, Coverdale has recently opened a restaurant, the Polperro Bistro, at the cellar door, at 150 Red Hill Road, Red Hill. He lured chef Andy Doughton away from Long Table to man the stoves.

These are wines of character and difference. Sydney retailers include The Oak Barrel and Bonds Corner

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