Tag: Burgundy

Mar 03 2012

Moorooduc Estate Moorooduc Pinot Noir: A Worthy Challenger to Fine Burgundy!

Posted on March 03, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In the March edition of Decanter, Benjamin Lewin looks at whether pinot noir grown outside of Burgundy can ever match the Cote d’Or’s complex, sensual and ageworthy wines? Lewin notes that Burgundian winemakers argue that pinot noir is a grape that expresses the specificity of the place, uniformly stating: “We don’t make Pinot Noir – we make Burgundy.” (Beyond Burgundy by Benjamin Lewin MW, Decanter, March 2012)

Today, only a third of the world’s pinot noir comes from Burgundy. Germany and New World producers in the United States, New Zealand and Australia have demonstrated over the past 20 to 30 years that they are capable of making very fine, ageworthy pinot noirs, often in styles that are different to Burgundy’s but perhaps just as special and interesting in their own right?

Lewin dispels what he calls the Burgundian myth that pinot noir needs limestone soil to achieve its full complexity, noting that pinot noir from slate soils in Germany, for example, are more precise and taut than pinot noir from limestone soils, which are rounder, fuller and softer. Different, yes, but no less interesting!

Singling out “12 Pinots to challenge Burgundy, ” Lewin’s only Australian pick is Moorooduc Estate’s The Moorooduc Pinot Noir 2008 from the Mornington Peninsula. Here’s his review:

Savoury, cereal aroma. Lively black fruit palate shows purity with well-delineated, precise cherries and aromatic blackcurrants. As generally in the region, the 2008 shows more precise, tighter edges than the more overtly generous 2009.

The Wine Detective’s Sarah Ahmed argues that the top pinot noirs from the Mornington Peninsula offer the best of both worlds – “the consistent quality, fruit ripeness and intensity that we’ve come to expect from Australia, combined with Burgundian structure, complexity and balance.” (Mornignton Peninsula Special Liftout Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Tasting, Decanter Magazine June … Read the rest

Mar 03 2012

Single Vineyard Perfection: A Brief History

Posted on March 03, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

If you’re want to understand the importance of single vineyard wines, a look at the history of winemaking in Burgundy is the best place to start. No other region in the world has studied more closely how grapes perform in different terroirs. Indeed the very concept of terroir – the idea that the micro-climate, soil characteristics, exposure and orientation of each particular site determine the character of the wine – originated in Burgundy.

As the Burghound.com’s Allen Meadows explained at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival Masterclass Single Vineyard Perfection, the Catholic religious orders, who managed the Burgundian vineyards from about 600 AD up to the end of the 18th century, noticed that different plots created wines with unique personalities. They believed that these individual expressions were in fact celebrating messages from God. (Meadows also noted that the idea of a single grape variety for a single vineyard came about because the monks didn’t want to muddle God’s message!)

In medieval times the Cistercian Order classified the best vineyard sites of Burgundy’s famous golden slope, the Côte d’Or, laying the foundation for the current classification of five levels, ranging from Grand Crus (only 2% of the Côte d’Or vineyards) at the top of the pyramid to the regional and sub-regional appellations at the bottom.

Today the classification system in Burgundy is firmly entrenched and unlike Bordeaux, where the wines are classified according to the reputation of the producer, the hierarchy in Burgundy is still geographically based. The Grand Crus Côte de Beaune vineyard of Montrachet, for example, is still widely considered the best vineyard in the world for chardonnay. The almost 8 hectare (19 acres) vineyard is home to 18 owners and 26 producers!

In recent years Australian and other New World producers have embraced the idea of single … Read the rest

Jun 06 2011

Cellaring Australian Pinot Noir: How long do they last?

Posted on June 06, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

When I was researching my previous post on Australian pinot noir, Australian Pinot Noir: Coming into Its Own, I came across a list by Andrew Graham of the Australia Wine Journal entitled Australia’s 10 most ageworthy Pinot Noirs.

The list caused quite a bit of commentary and debate, and I have reprinted Graham’s recommendations here: Mount Mary Pinot Noir, Yarra Yering Pinot Noir, Bannockburn Serré Pinot Noir, By Farr Sangreal Pinot Noir, Ashton Hills Reserve Pinot Noir, Bass Phillip Estate Pinot Noir, Domaine A Pinot Noir, Stonier Reserve Pinot Noir, Kooyong Ferrous Pinot Noir and Bindi Block 5 Pinot Noir. You can read Graham’s very insightful comments for why each of the wines were chosen on his blog.

Graham defines ageworthy “as the ability to mature, and indeed improve, with cellaring times for 8 years plus.” Like many of the readers who responded to his post, I wouldn’t necessarily think of ageing Australian pinot noir for so long. One reader commented: “I suspect most people drink them too young and miss out on the aged versions. What do most folk think about optimal age for decent Pinot Noir? I’d say 5-10y which is medium term vs Shiraz / Cab Sav.”

I was curious what an esteemed, if sometimes controversial, wine critic thinks about the longevity of pinot noir. Here’s Robert Parker’s 1995 assessment of the ageability of American pinot noir: “Most American Pinot Noirs should be consumed within their first 5-7 years of life. As most Burgundy collectors sadly acknowledge (provided they can honestly accept the distressing reality), once beyond the wines of Domaine Leroy, Domain Ponsot, and ten or so others, great red burgundy is also a wine to drink young.” (Robert Parker, American Pinot Comes of Age, Wine … Read the rest

Jun 06 2011

Australian Pinot Noir: Coming into its Own!

Posted on June 06, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

A couple of decades ago, few believed that making great pinot noir outside of Burgundy was possible. Today Burgundy still holds the mantle for the most complex, elegant and sometimes ethereal expressions of pinot noir, but most people would agree that New World competitors are catching up.

To date, much of the limelight has been hogged by New World producers in New Zealand and Oregon. Last year, Craggy Range, for example,  picked up the prestigious ‘Wine of Show’ trophy in the 2010 Tri Nations Wine Challenge with their 2008 Te Muna Road Vineyard Pinot Noir from Martinborough. (Typically only the best wines from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa are submitted to the highly respected Tri Nations competition.)

But what about the profile of Australia pinot noir?  Well, given that only 2.6 per cent of land under vine in Australia is devoted to pinot noir, it has probably already garnered a good deal more attention and respect than expected over the past decade.

The paucity of pinot noir plantings in Australia is due to a number of factors. First of all, no-one would argue that it isn’t one of the most challenging varieties in the world to grow. Correct site selection is absolutely essential (see Burgundy: Its about the Terroir), and the dedication of a patient, talented winemaker is almost an equal first. For these reasons, only brave, risk-taking smaller producers have typically been game to embrace the pinot noir challenge.

One of the pioneer of Australian pinot noir, Gary Farr of Geelong’s By Farr, has certainly demonstrated that when the right ingredients come together, the results can be outstanding. The well drained, low fertility soils over limestone of his hillside vineyards could have been lifted right out of Burgundy. Gary spent 13 vintages at Burgundy’s Domaine DujacRead the rest

May 05 2011

Burgundy: It’s All About the Terroir

Posted on May 05, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

But to truly understand the importance of terroir you need to appreciate the essential role it plays in imbuing the wines of Burgundy with their unique and special qualities.

Burgundy is the northern most area in Europe to produce great red wine, and a region associated with some of the finest and most expensive wines in the world. It is also the domain of the small vineyard holder. The average holding is around 6 hectares (15 acres) , and the fragmentation of estates is greatest in the region’s heart, the Côte d’Or. Burgundy also has the most complex appellation system in France, with nearly 100 different appellations spread across a 300 kilometres long region that stretches from the northernmost vineyards of Chablis to the Mediterranean influenced vineyards of the southernmost point of Beaujolais.

In Burgundy the soil and climate have an enormous influence on the style and quality of the wine. In the Côte d’Or, for example, the soil is so diverse that even neighbouring vineyards have different soil characteristics.

The Côte d’Or lies along an irregular hillside which starts just south of Dijon and stretches 50 kms in a southwesterly direction to Satenay. The best vineyards are situated on the east facing slopes to catch the morning sun. They are sheltered from the westerly rain bearing winds by a wooded escarpment that runs above the vineyards. Here the most prized soils are a mix of marlstone and scree over a calcium-rich limestone. Together with vineyard practices that favour small crops, old vines, peak ripeness picking and rigorous sorting practices, the best ‘Grand Cru’ vineyards produce complex, elegant wines with a velvety texture and an incredible depth of flavour.

Tomorrow: A look at some of the best wines of the Côte d’Or.

Photo: Link Paris

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