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 more experienced!” (Huon Hooke, Andrew Fleming & Greg Jarratt, Coldstream Hills, Winemaker of the Year Finalist Profiles, Gourmet Traveller Wine, June/July 2014)

Founded by James and Suzanne Halliday in 1985

Coldstream Hills vineyardsFleming and Jarratt have been working together for the past 13 years. As you are no doubt aware, Coldstream Hills was founded by James and Suzanne Halliday in 1985. Halliday was greatly impressed with the pinot noirs of Mount Mary and Seville Estate that he tried during the late 1970s and went looking for the right cool-climate Yarra Valley site. The Hallidays sold the winery in 1996 to Southcorp (now Treasury Wine Estates), but still owns a house overlooking the Coldstream Hills vineyards. I am always mesmerised by the photos Halliday regularly posts of the views from his house on his Facebook page. It’s a stunning hillside site.

Jarratt and Fleming have not been afraid to experiment with their approach to making wines at Coldstream Hills.  They favour the use of pre-fermentation cold soaking to gently extract the aromatic fruit characters of cherry, raspberry and rhubarb, and use whole berries instead of crushed fruit for the fairly quick warm ferments. A portion of the fruit is fermented with the stalks to give a blending component.

Overall the 2012 vintage has been hailed as one of the best vintages for pinot noir from the Yarra Valley. If you have a chance, try the pinot noirs from Coldstream Hills before they run out.

Merrill Witt New YorkBy Merrill Witt


Photo Credit: Coldstream Hills – morning, James Halliday blog, Australian Wine Companion