What are Australia’s most ageworthy Pinot Noirs?
That’s a question that I have been pondering over the past week as I sat around in various doctors waiting rooms, mindlessly flicking through dog eared 4 year old Readers Digests and (strangely current) issues of Australian Yachting.
What kicked off this (typically random) obsessive wine thought was Dan Coward’s thought provoking comment (here) noting just how variable the results from older Australian (and New Zealand) pinots can be.
So, I’ve decided to write a list. Yes, another list. This time a Pinot list, highlighting Australia’s most ageworthy Pinot Noirs. This one, however, has a different slant from last weeks value collection, with the main criteria for entry based as much upon reputation and consistency than actual current vintages.
The real challenge though with writing a Pinot list like this one is that it is still so Victoria-centric, stacked with estates an hour from Melbourne that served as weekenders for wealthy, Pinot loving Melbourne businessman back in the 70’s and 80’s (and even now almost into the teens)
But I’m also keen to highlight the new generation of cellar worthy Australian Pinot Noirs, which is why this list is split into two – on one (larger) hand, the established ‘dress circle’ of renowned producers, on the other, the newer (somewhat) generation of smart, one-eye-on-the-cellar Pinot makers.
Here we go:
Australia’s 10 most ageworthy Pinot Noirs
Mount Mary Pinot Noir
As Yarra as they come. Melbourne doctor with firm ideas makes the wines he wants to drink, with the tradition now carried on by his descendants. This bottle alone gets this wine an entry onto the list.
Yarra Yering Pinot Noir
Even older school. Yarra Yering is probably better know for its red blends than its straight pinots, but they age with similar gracefulness.
Bannockburn Serre Pinot Noir
Gary Farr’s baby, this listing could even include the base Bannockburn Pinot such is it’s ageability. Gary moved on to his newer project (below) some time ago, but the Serre was still his wine. Micheal Glover is a particularly talented winemaker though, so expect the new Serre’s to be just as good.
By Farr Sangreal Pinot Noir
Perhaps this should fit into the new school As Burgundian a Pinot as you are likely to find in Australia. Serious, fine, dense and structured, this will live and live (though has some occasional bottle variation). The new Tout Pres promises to be even more cellar worthy (eventually).
Ashton Hills Reserve Pinot Noir
Arguably South Australia’s most impressive Pinot Noir, with a reputation for maturing well in the cellar. A serious structure and no shortage of intensity help this to be such an ageworthy prospect.
Bass Phillip Estate Pinot Noir
I’m leaving this as the Estate Pinot for consistency, but obviously the Reserve and Premium label present a step up in quality again. Whichever of these three wines you get, at the very least it will be a characterful Pinot (though variability is an issue). Personally, I think that Bass Phillip makes the finest Pinots in Australia. Which reminds me, I really should buy some more of the bargain ’21’…
Domaine A Pinot Noir
Producer of Australia’s longest lived Pinots, the Domaine A style is sturdy, dry and idiosyncratic. A high tolerance of sappy, minty ‘marginal’ Pinot characters is required to really love them, but this is one wine that, given the requisite bottle age, can produce some seriously high notes.
Stonier Reserve Pinot Noir
Once famously confused with a grand cru burgundy, and each year shown to be a serious contender at the annual SIPNOT tastings, the distinctive, powerful Stonier style was made thanks to some strong wines in the late 90’s early noughties. In recent years a change in ownership has done the estate little favours, with many of the talented staff now long gone. Still, there is a legacy there, and when on song these are seriously fine Mornington Pinots.
Kooyong Ferrous Pinot Noir
Some might argue whether this – or the ‘Haven’ – is the longest lived single vineyard Kooyong Pinot, but what’s not up for debate is how taut, firmly structured and plain delicious this wine is. Sandro Mosele can rightly claim to be producing some of the finest Pinots on the Mornington Peninsula and this is the wine that I think represents his finest work.
Bindi Block Five Pinot Noir
Some might argue that the Original Vineyard Pinot Noir should get top billing, but I think argue this is the most tannic and darkest of Michael Dhillon’s Pinots (and hence the most ageworthy). It’s a wine that is both serious and seductive, just like Pinot should be. Given that this vineyard is now nearing twenty years old, this wine might not be as ‘new school’ as I’m asserting, but it’s still very much a new school wine style.
I know I’ve left a few out, but who would be in your top 10 ageworthy Australian Pinots?