Tag: Australian pinot noir

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

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

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