Shaw + Smith Pinot Workshop 2015 – 10 benchmark Pinots from around the world
I mean, it’s one thing to upstage with the subterfuge of a wine served blind, but it takes confidence to do the same with a sighted tasting. Even more confidence is required when your winery doesn’t have the longest history with Pinot Noir, with Shaw & Smith’s reputation more focused upon Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay rather than Pinot Noir.
Still, as the tasting below shows, the Shaw & Smith Pinot has come along in leaps and bounds in recent years, with 2013 easily the best vintage to date (even if it’s still not quite ‘there’).
Couple that with the new Tolpuddle Vineyard Pinot Noir and it suddenly makes much more sense that Martin Shaw & Michael Hill-Smith have decided to focus on Pinot Noir for this Workshop.
As an aside, there is some serious generosity behind a tasting like this. Sure, it’s a PR exercise, but the sales push is never on with Michael and Martin, and the expense involved would be hefty. Wineries like Shaw + Smith or Voyager (with their annual masterclass) ought to be commended for putting on annual comparative tastings like this, as I think we all benefit – winemakers, trade, media. Everyone.
The following wines then were tasted yesterday in a relaxed, masterclass style event at Prince Wine Store’s new Sydney outpost. It was freezing in the backroom and I was just in a t-shirt (whoops), but I don’t think it affected how the wines tasted. Just made me look like a cold idiot…
Notes are as written on the day. Extra bits in italics.
Domaine de Montille Pommard 1er Cru Les Rugiens Bas 2012
From 2 parcels 1.02h in total. Certified organic since 2005. 1/3 whole bunch. 40% new oak.
Deep ruby red. Wonderful nose – beautiful raspberry aromatics. Some wood on the nose. Initially quite floral and pretty, though a bitterness on the back palate which suggests a little underripeness. Has a lovely savouriness though and quite dry, woody tannins. Needs 2-3 years, but already delicious. The closer I looked at this the more I liked it. A little magic. 18.5/20, 94/100
Domaine Confuron-Cotetidot Echezeaux Grand Cru 2012
From a 0.45h parcel in the lieux-dit of Les Treux where Clos de Vougeot meets Grands Echezeaux. 100% whole bunch. 2 years in 50% new oak.
Medium red, deep ruby with a little purple. Closed. Deep and long but uncompromising. Extractive and tannin driven. Brackish and a little bitter. Impressive tannins. Tannins then fruit. Great weight and power but little joy as a current drink. Length is exceptional however. Will it resolve to greatness? I suspect this may always be too firm. Drink in 5-8. Important plusses. 18/20, 93/100++
Domaine Dujac Morey St Denis 2012
2.93ha of village level holdings, 75% of which is farmed organically. Short maceration, typically 12 days between picking and pressing. 40% new oak. Up to 100% whole bunch.
Dark ruby. Lighter than the CC. Loose knit nose. Welcomes you in with lovely red fruit. Glacé red fruit. A little volatile perhaps? Seduction, in an open and gentle style. Lovely. Simple. Drinking wine. Late bloom of red fruit. Extra point for deliciousness. 17.7/20, 92/100
Ata Rangi Pinot Noir 2012
Predominantly from the Home Block. Abel, Pommard, Dijon clones. 10-30yr old vines. Destemmed. 25% new oak for 11 months.
Light to mid red. Redder than the Burgundies. Quite a straight and direct fruit nose. Some dried leaf and mulch. A bacony and quite warm palate with a meatiness to it. Not the most focused Ata Rangi but certainly a structured beast. This looks just a bit too warm in context – lacks a little beauty, a little tough. In a funny phase? 17.5/20, 91/100
Pyramid Valley Earth Smoke Pinot Noir 2011
Hand destemmed. Home cultured yeast. Foot crushing only. No pumps or filtration.
Brick red brown. Advanced colour. Smoky and wild. Sweet and sour palate is a lumpy ride. So lumpy. Astringent. Bitter astringent. Tomato and bacon. So much complexity. But that bitterness is a massive turn off. Mercurial. Atypical. Not there. The low sulphur/high pH Pyramid Vallery winemaking regime famously leads to some bottle variation, and this looked like a very average bottle. 15/20, 80/100
Felton Road Block 5 Pinot Noir 2013
The Elms Vineyard, Bannockburn. 26% whole bunch. Long pre ferment maceration. Wild yeast. 18 months in 37% new French oak.
Lovely direct red fruit. A hint of mint. Red cherry, luxurious fruit, lovely seamless flow. The prettiness of Morey St Denis, but with more concentration. Maybe a little one dimensional? It’s very young though. A wine of fruit – perfect fruit. Good now, even better as it becomes a bit more complex. 18/20, 93/100+
Shaw + Smith Pinot Noir 2013
Balhannah and Lenswood. Hand picked with whole berry and whole bunch ferment. Pre and post ferment maceration. 10 months in 1/3 new oak.
Mid ruby colour. Immediately riper, more full on the nose. Sweet red berry fruit. Lots of sweet fruit. Red lolly fruit. Not overwrought. As this becomes less fruit sweet it should really satisfy. There’s that sense of picking early in a warm year, but it doesn’t feel unbalanced. Certainly the best Shaw + Smith Pinot to date. Really quite welcome delicacy. Good now, even better in a year. 17.7/20, 92/100+
Yabby Lake Block 2 Pinot Noir 2013
16yr old vines. MV6. Destemmed. 3-4 days cold soak.
There’s some mulch and pepper mushroom here which is more typical of whole bunch than destemmed fruit. Interesting. Adds a seasoning to that makes for a quite satisfying wine. Actually, this looks even better than back in February – red fruit, mushroom, white pepper. Lightish tannins and clearly a ripe fruit wine. But quite delicious and structured and regional. Perfect really. Liked it muchly. 18.5/20, 94/100
The Wanderer Upper Yarra Pinot Noir 2012
30% whole bunches. 30% new oak. 11 months in barrel.
Light ruby red with a more orange red hue. Black pepper and a little haunch on the nose. Stalky edge to the nose. It’s a lovely delicate wine, with refreshing acidity, the prettiness and savoury edge. Maybe a little bitter, but gee it’s beautiful. Too stemmy? Nice wine though. Would probably shine in a lineup of lighter framed wines. 17.8/20, 92/100
Tolpuddle Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013
30% whole bunch. 70% whole berries. 15-20 days on skins. 30% new oak for 10 months.
Bright ruby red. There’s a little stalk on the nose, some white pepper too. It looks curiously more minty this time around, more bony. I like it just a little less than last time I tried it. But the future looks brighter this time around. Promise. 18.1/20, 93/100+