When the Yabby Lake Block 1 Pinot Noir 2012 won the  2013 Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy at the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards for Best Red Wine it was a big deal. Awarded to the best Australian red from the previous vintage, the win marked the first time in the coveted trophy’s 52 year history that the judges had singled out a pinot noir.

But the result didn’t come as a complete surprise to the Chairman of Judges, celebrated Oakridge winemaker David Bicknell. He saw the win as proof of the “ground breaking” work that has been done in recent years to improve the quality of pinot noir in Australia: “The excitement we have seen in the last few years when looking at Chardonnay classes has seemingly caught on to both Grenache (and variations) and Pinot Noir.”



Yabby Lake Vineyard

Owned by the Kirby family since 1998, Yabby Lake has established a strong reputation for its single vineyard pinot noir and chardonnay wines. Burgundian-trained chief winemaker and manager Tom Carson regarded his Jimmy Watson Trophy as “an exciting endorsement of not only our belief in the calibre our our special site, but also what the variety is capable of on the Mornington Peninsula as a whole.”

The Yabby Lake vineyard is located on a north-facing slope in the sub-region of Moorooduc on the Mornington Peninsula. The maritime conditions – lots of daily sunshine and cool sea nightly breezes – create perfect conditions for growing high quality chardonnay and pinot noir.

The team at Yabby Lake have long been fascinated in how subtle differences in terroir can lead to distinct characteristics in the wine. Block 1 and 2 pinot noir , for example, are less than 10 metres apart and planted to the same clone of pinot noir (MV6). Yet the wines are remarkably different in character.

As wine writer Max Allen notes, “the 2012 vintage was an absolute cracker for Pinot Noir in the southern Australian state of Victoria, especially in cooler regions surrounding Melbourne such as the Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula.”

Here’s Allen’s glowing review of the 2012 Yabby Lake Block 1 Pinot Noir:

Made from grapes grown on just a few rows of one block of Pinot vines on Yabby Lake’s vineyard at Tuerong, in the warmer north of the Peninsula, this is supremely seductive without being showy. It smells enticingly of ripe, succulent red cherries and plums, but it’s the way it drapes itself slowly across your tongue that really impresses. (Australia falls for Pinot by Max Allen, Jancis Robinson.com, 31 October 2013)

by Merrill Witt, Editor

A few bottles of the Yabby Lake Block 1 Pinot Noir 2012 are now available on the Cellarit Wine Market

Photo Credits: Randall’s, Yabby Lake Vineyard