Category Archives: Australian Pinot Noir

Feb 02 2017

Newcomer Lisdillon Pinot Noir 2015 – Wins Top Gold at Tasmanian Wine Show

Posted on February 02, 2017 | By merrill@cellarit.com

No fewer than 57 wines entered the 2015 pinot class of the recently judged Tasmanian Wine Show, a testament to the growing reputation and popularity of pinot noir in the island state.

Some familiar names dominated the trophy and gold medal cache. The 2015 Bay of Fires Pinot Noir won the Chairman’s Selection Hazards Ale Trophy and the 2015 Goaty Hill Family Reserve Pinot Noir won the People’s Choice James Halliday Trophy. Gold medals were awarded to the 2015 Home Hill Kelly’s Reserve Pinot Noir, the 2015 Bay of Fires Pinot Noir, the 2015 Goaty Hill Family Reserve Pinot Noir and the 2015 Goaty Hill Pinot Noir.

Interestingly, a wine that I wasn’t familiar with, the Lisdillon Pinot Noir 2015, was awarded a Top Gold – in other words, the standout amongst the gold medal winners!

This modestly priced wine (you can find it for less than $35 a bottle) has been garnering great reviews. The Wine Front’s Mike Bennie scored the 2015 vintage 93 points:

Flavoursome, sappy textured, sticks-to-your-gums pinot noir of purity and quiet power. It’s a delicious wine to settle into, full of black cherry, plummy sweetness, fine, chewy tannins. Has quite a bit of ripeness and concentration yet maintains a freshness and comely drinking. Length is a feature, as is wonderful perfume. Quality stuff here, and plenty for the pinot fancier to get excited about. (The Wine Front, February 2017)

The Lisdillon Vineyard is named after Lisdillon Beach on the Tasmania’s east coast. The picturesque property is close to the town of Swansea and the Freycinet National Park. Owned by the Cotton family since 1971, sheep farmer Crispin Cotton decided to plant vines just seven years ago. Unfortunately, Crispin died in 2014, but his family is continuing to manage the … Read the rest

Aug 08 2016

Tasmanian Pinot Noir: Reaching for New Heights – Highlights from Sydney’s Vin Diemen Tasting

Posted on August 08, 2016 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Vin Diemen, the annual showcase of Tasmanian wine, is always a great event and this year was no exception. Held last Saturday in a new venue – the beautiful historic National Arts School in East Sydney – many of the winemakers were on hand and happy to field questions while busily pouring their wines for big crowds.

The outstanding quality of Tasmanian pinot noir (with some pretty hefty price tags to match!) was one of the highlights of the tasting. The enticing dark cherry and plum fruit aromas of the Holm Oak “The Wizard” Pinot Noir 2014 ($60) led to a vibrant flavour driven palate with excellent length and silky tannins. Delicious!

The elegant Spring Vale Estate Pinot Noir is a perennial favourite of mine and the 2015 vintage ($45) exhibited this wine’s hallmark dark cherry aromas with herbal touches. Well structured, its clearly delineated fine grained tannins framed a complex range of dark fruit flavours with savoury overtones.

The Coal River winery Domaine A has built its reputation on cabernet, but winemaker Peter Althaus also knows how to make a very fine pinot noir. The Domaine A Pinot Noir 2009 ($90) is an excellent example of Tasmania’s potential to produce a rich, opulent style of pinot noir designed to age. This is a well-structured elegant, delicately scented medium-bodied wine with concentrated flavours, silky tannins and a lingering finish.

The 2013 Glaetzer-Dixon Family Winemakers ReveurPinot Noir ($56) with its firm yet fine tannins and vibrant acidity was also quite Burgundian in style. A beguiling nose of strawberries, dark stone fruits and savoury spice led to a supple and complex flavour profile of cherries and blackberries. Definitely another good one for the cellar!

2014WizardPinotNoirsmallOver the years the best Tasmanian winemakers have come to understand the subtle nuances of their … Read the rest

Feb 02 2016

Tasmania’s Spring Vale Pinot Noir 2013: A Taste of Burgundy in Australia!

Posted on February 02, 2016 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Good vine age, winemaking experience and ideal climatic conditions. These are just some of the key ingredients that have recently coalesced to make Tasmania arguably the most exciting pinot noir producer in Australia at the moment.

Last year the Tolpuddle Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 was awarded Best Australian Red at the International Wine Challenge in the UK. Owned by Shaw + Smith owners Michael Hill Smith and Martin Shaw, the Tolpuddle Vineyard, planted in 1988, is located in the Coal River Valley just 20 minutes outside of Hobart

2013 was also a great year for another of Tasmania’s East Coast wineries, the Lyne-family owned Spring Vale in Cranbrook. Sixth in a field of 42, the Spring Vale Pinot Noir 2013 beat out some serious competition in a recent GT Wine blind tasting of single-vineyard Australian pinot noir. Writer and judge Toni Peterson MW described it as “a poised and classy wine with excellent varietal character and energy. Notes of red berries, herbs and tamarillo. It is very pure and focussed with a lovely loose texture. It built more complexity in the glass with time.”(Single Site Pinot Noir by Nick Bulleid MW, GT Wine, Aug/Sept 2015)

I had an opportunity to try the wine at the annual Vin Diemen’s wine tasting and decided to track it down! I have been enjoying it ever since, and fortunately secured a few bottles for the Cellarit Wine Market.

So what makes Tassie pinot noir so good? SMH Good Food writer Jeni Port spoke to a number of high profile Tasmanian winemakers who believe that the climatic conditions of Tasmania are remarkably similar to Burgundy and Champagne, where cool climate and humidity in combination create grape compositions that are more delicate and less tannic.

Tasmania Wine MapCharles ”Chilly” Hargrave, group sparkling winemaker for Treasury Wine Estates told … Read the rest

Oct 10 2015

Yabby Lake Block 1 Pinot Noir 2012: Historic win puts the focus on Australian Pinot Noir

Posted on October 10, 2015 | By merrill@cellarit.com

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 … Read the rest

Sep 09 2015

Tasmania’s Best Pinot Noir – Tolpuddle Pinot Noir 2013

Posted on September 09, 2015 | By merrill@cellarit.com

The 2013 Tolpuddle Pinot Noir, from the famous Coal River Valley vineyard owned by cousins Martin Shaw and Michael Hill Smith of Shaw + Smith in the Adelaide Hills, was recently named Best Australian Red Wine at the International Wine Challenge in London in April.

First released in 2012, the universal applause for both the inaugural and 2013 vintages is the best evidence to date that Tasmania is starting to realise its potential for pinot noir.

Certainly Shaw and Smith haven’t been shy about attaching an expensive price tag to their award-winning wine ($75 rrp). As the UK’s top wine critic Jancis Robinson remarked: “This is not a cheap wine. It costs about the same as many premier cru burgundy. But it has the advantage of being already delicious to drink – unlike most 2013 burgundies.” How’s that for a wonderful backhanded compliment! (Tolpuddle Pinot Noir 2013 by Jancis Robinson MW, JancisRobinson.com, 15 April 2015)

 

 

Tolpuddle Pinot Noir 750ml NV copyFirst established in 1988 by Tony Jordan, Gary Crittenden and Bill Casimaty, Tolpuddle won the first-ever Tasmanian Vineyard of the Year Award in 2006. Describing their decision to try to buy the vineyard in 2011 (it wasn’t even listed at the time), Shaw and Smith said “it was love at first sight. 20 hectares of mature Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines planted on a long even slope, with lean soils, forests above and water below and great vineyard exposure. Fantastic.”

The Coal River Valley is proving climatically ideal for slow ripening pinot noir. The cool but relatively dry climate allows the grapes to ripen slowly in autumn without the threat of disease pressure from heavy rainfall.

Shaw and Smith note that in 2011 Peter Dawson, former chief winemaker at Hardy’s, boldly predicted that “Tasmania would be making Australia’s best Chardonnay and … Read the rest

Apr 04 2015

A Wine to Put on Your Radar: DCB Wine Pinot Noir 2013

Posted on April 04, 2015 | By merrill@cellarit.com

You may recall that not long ago I raved about a bottle of Hoddles Creek 1er Cru Pinot Noir 2013 we enjoyed over dinner. The Wine Front’s Gary Walsh remarked that at $45 per bottle the wine was a bargain, arguing that “To get quality like this out of Burgundy, you’d be looking at up to $150+”. (Hoddles Creek 1er Cru Pinot Noir 2013, The Wine Front 14 January 2015)

Consequently I was very intrigued to read Mike Bennie’s impressive review of the DCB Wine Pinot Noir Yarra Valley 2013 (rrp $20) in this month’s Gourmet Traveller Wine. It’s the first release for a new label by Chris Bendle, one of the members of the winemaking crew at the Yarra Valley’s Hoddles Creek. According to Bennie, this wine and its sibling, the 2013 DCB Wine Chardonnay, will undoubtedly make the list of Australia’s best-value wines. (From Big Things by Mike Bennie, Gourmet Traveller Wine, April/May 2015)

Bendle has been making wine at Hoddles Creek since 2010. He told Bennie that “The D’Anna family [owners of Hoddles Creek have had a big influence on me. I’ve learned that people seek out value in wine, and that wine can be about pleasure, enjoyment as well as accessibility.”

In 2013 Bendle was fortunate to secure some pinot noir and chardonnay from a vineyard halfway between Healesville and Woori Yallock. Usually most of the fruit is reserved for Hoddles Creek. The wines, made at Hoddles Creek, are unfiltered and unfined.

Here’s Bennie’s review:

2013 DCB Wine Pinot Noir ($20) is packed with plush, red berry flavours and just a faint hint of dusty wood from older oak barrels. It’s easy drinking, yet stylish in its own way, punching well about its weight”

by Merrill Witt, Editor

The wine is still … Read the rest

Jan 01 2015

Hoddles Creek Estate 1er Pinot Noir 2013 – Australia’s best pinot noir?

Posted on January 01, 2015 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Over dinner with friends last week at the wonderful Vietnamese-French fusion restaurant La Mint in Darlinghust we enjoyed a bottle of Hoddles Creek Estate 1er Pinot Noir 2013. The wine was a gift from a friend who really knows and loves his pinot noir: “I want you to try something special,” he said.

The wine certainly presents itself as something special. It’s a big, heavy bottle with a very Burgundian looking label. We opened it just at the right time; the slightly sweet, richly layered berry fruit flavours and clean but silky tannins perfectly complemented the deliciously succulent, slightly spicy pork belly.

I certainly wasn’t surprised to read Gary Walsh’s absolutely glowing review in The Wine Front:

Some people might think $45 is a lot of money for a wine, but this, put simply, is a bargain. To get quality like this out of Burgundy you’d be up for $150+. Anyway, I just ordered a dozen.

Dark cherry, ripe raspberry, sweet damp earth scattered with flowers, pencils and cinnamon and layers of spice – it’s rich, fragrant and deep, and the minute you smell it, you know you’re in for something pretty special. Medium bodied, layers of fruit, mineral and spice, and the thing that marks it out is the pixel fine bed of graphite tannin that forms the foundation of the wine. Superb texture. Then the finish is all spice and sweet ripe tannin washing the palate clean. Yeah, you know, 96 or 97 points. Seems high, I know, but it’s as good as any Australian Pinot I’ve tasted. It’s up there with anything, from anywhere. (The Wine Front, 14 January 2015)

The Hoddles Creek Estate 1er Pinot Noir is the winery’s premium single vineyard release. It comes from the original Vineyard block next to the winery on the … Read the rest

Jun 06 2014

Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir: Terroir + Experience = Superb Results!

Posted on June 06, 2014 | By merrill@cellarit.com

I’ve been fortunate to enjoy a couple of bottles of the Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir 2012 over the past few months. On both occasions I was really impressed with the enticing dark fruit aromas and the vibrant, pure fruit flavours complemented by a thread of minerality and ever so slight savoury undertones.

The 2012 Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir is quite Burgundian in character

The Wine Front’s Mike Bennie described this wine as being quite Burgundian in character, meaning, to quote Bennie, “fancy oak aromas for the first five minutes, then the dark and red fruit flows with a higher tone of what I call alpine herbs. Very pure and tense across the palate, finishes with almost the pucker of sourness, but it’s not, it’s just hewn to a rapier-point with succulent acidity. Smooth, flowing, light to medium bodied feel with graphite minerality laid under bright fruit flavours.” (The Wine Front, 21 May 2013)

2012 was an exceptional vintage for Yarra Valley pinot noir

Bennie spoke with wine critic and Coldstream Hills ex-proprietor James Halliday, who was ebullient about the quality of the Yarra Valley fruit for the 2012 vintage. The flagship Coldstream Hills Reserve Pinot Noir 2012 is also winning rave reviews.

Coldstream Hills winemakers are finalists for 2014 Gourmet Traveller Wine Winemaker of the Year

Coldstream Hills is a winery that seems to have hit its stride. Chief winemaker Andrew Fleming and winemaker Greg Jarratt are both finalists for Australia’s Gourmet Traveller Wine’s prestigious Winemaker of the Year award. Fleming recently told wine critic Huon Hooke that “We’ve always been very successful with chardonnay but our pinots have come on in leaps and bounds in the last few years…The pinots have been improving because the vines are getting older, but also because the people are getting older, and … Read the rest

Mar 03 2013

Whose Pinot Reigns Supreme? Australia versus New Zealand

Posted on March 03, 2013 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Acqua Panna Global Wine Experience, Saturday, 9 March 2013

When New Zealand winemakers’ Blair Walter (Felton Road) and Nick Mills (Rippon) opened their address with a very loud and captivating rendition of the Maori Haku, the stage was set for a very lively debate about whose pinot reigns supreme? (Wished I taped it, but my photo of Nick Mills give you a bit of an idea!)

The audience was collapsing with laughter while the two Australian winemakers on the panel, Michael Dhillon (Bindi) and Nick Farr (By Farr and Farr Rising), looked on with bemusement! No, unfortunately, they hadn’t prepared an Aussie comeback! (C’mon Aussie c’mon perhaps?)

The subsequent discussion, led by wine critic Nick Stock, was fascinating so I thought I’d share a few of the highlights:

Clonal Variety vs Vine Age – New Zealand vs Australia

Farr noted that due to stricter Australian quarantine rules, New Zealand has had the edge when it comes to choice of clones.

But according to the Australian winemakers vine age can compensate for the effects of less clonal variety. The vines of the MP6 clone used for the Macedon Ranges’ Bindi Block 5, for example, are now 18 years old. Dhillon believes he has seen increasing complexity, minerality and balance with each subsequent vintage of his wine.

Terroir is Key

Of all the varieties pinot noir is probably the greatest communicator of terroir.  Not surprisingly, the winemakers said their greatest challenge is finding the right location!

Nick StockMills noted that for New Zealand winemakers achieving wines with good fruitiness is practically a given, as New Zealand’s dramatic diurnal variation is very good for sealing in flavour and colour. The right terroir is what gives the wines their coveted subtle flavours, complexity and structure.

Winemaker’s Influence Read the rest

Feb 02 2013

50 Wines to Try in 2013: No. 5 – Pooley Wines Coal River Pinot Noir 2011

Posted on February 02, 2013 | By merrill@cellarit.com

2012 was a big year for the family-run Coal River Valley winery Pooley Wines. At the prestigious Royal Melbourne Wine Show the Pooley Wines Coal River Pinot Noir 2011 won the hotly contested Douglas Seabrook Trophy for the best single-vineyard wine and the Dan Murphy Trophy for best pinot noir  The winery was also named 2012 Tasmanian Vineyard of the Year – an award given by the Royal Agricultural Society of Tasmania in recognition of viticultural practices. To cap it off, third-generation winemaker Matthew Pooley won a Nuffield Scholarship to travel overseas and investigate sustainable small-scale winery establishment and management.

Matthew Pooley firmly believes that “if you have good fruit you will have good wine.” He has implemented some interesting innovations to improve soil health and sustainability. Peas, for example, are grown in between the vine rows to organically enrich the soil with nitrogen. Oats and rye grass complement the pea plantings by encouraging microbial matter and moisture retention in the soil.  (Pooley Wines scoops the pool by Margot Foster, ABC Rural News, 26 October  2012)

The Coal River Pinot Noir is made from 20 year old vines from the cool-climate Campania Vineyard on the banks of the Coal River. Established in 1985 by Matthew’s grandparents, Denis and Margaret Pooley, the winery is one of the oldest in Tasmania. Until her death in 2010 Margaret worked alongside her son John and grandson in the vineyards.

Of the award-winning 2011 vintage, Gourmet Traveller’s Wine correspondent Nick Stock offered the following critique:

It’s a mid-red wine with gentle depth and complexity. It opens up smoothly in the glass and delivers a very fragrant aroma with fine bright cherry and wild herbs, a waft of pepper, some earthy notes and a meaty edge too – the oak is discreetly balanced. The palate Read the rest