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)
First 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 Pinot Noir within the next decade.” Certainly looks like his prediction is on track. Robinson described the 2013 Tolpuddle Pinot Noir as “thrilling. I loved the 2012 vintage…but the 2013 seems if anything even more complex.”
And here’s Huon Hooke’s very impressive 96 point review:
Medium red/purple colour. Smoky oak is apparent first and foremost, while the wine is light and refined, delicate and yet intense in the mouth, with poise and precision, finesse and length. A lovely wine: pure and delicate, fine and pretty, but also has structure and backbone – as well as very good length. (HuonHooke.com)
Limited quantities of this wine are still available from the winery.
by Merrill Witt, Editor
Photo Credits: Tolpuddle Vineyard