I do wonder if we’ve hit peak Pinot in Australia yet. Each year the variety gets more mainstream love, more acceptance amongst the ‘all red wines in Australia should be produced from Shiraz, Cabernet or blends containing either’ sub-sect of the wine drinking population. Production wise there are just under ten times as much Shiraz planted domestically than Pinot, so it’s going to be a slow-burn…
Punt Road Airlie Bank Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2014
That this can be had for just $22 is just spectacular – it’s very grown up. Ruby red, this smells of cranberries, pink lamb and some full meatiness, the palate rather chunky, authentic and even quite tannic. There’s a hint of stems, a twinge of tomato leaf and some really rather grown-up flavours going on, maybe with a little dried fruit. It’s just a little pinched on the finish but again, gee whiz this is good for the money. Buy buy buy. Drink 2015-2019. 17.7/20, 92/100. 13%, $22. Would I buy it? I’d make a beeline for this on a winelist based on value alone.
Punt Road Napoleone Vineyard Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2014
Big brother to the Airlie Bank and immediate step up in concentration. More whole bunch spice, the fruit more backward and the style fresher and more compact. This even looks a lighter wine than the Airlie, though that is just the extra freshness at play. Again, this is a very good Yarra Pinot, if a little closed for immediate loving. There’s a beauty here though, a red flesh that really grabs your attention and reminds this is high quality, classy stuff. Drink: 2016-2022. 18/20, 93/100+. 13%, $29. Would I buy it? Oh definitely. I’d drink it next year though.
Pacha Mama Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2014
After the previous two wines this is a slight letdown, the oak overshadowing quite light and pretty raspberry fruit in a style that is like red racing car lollies. Ruby red with a little purple. There’s still nice gentle fruit here, if without the clarity of the previous two wines, just missing the next step (and also needing time in bottle for the oak to settle in). Drink: 2016-2021. 16.8/20, 89/100. 12.8%, $28. Would I buy it? No.
Stoneleigh Wild Valley Marlborough Pinot Noir 2014
3-5 days cold soak, wild ferment and then hand plunged, ferments kept coolish, 10 months in oak.
That’s an awful lot of winemaking care for $21.99! Light ruby red, the nose is quite serious with macerated dark cherry, raspberry and a little game. While only light bodied it’s certainly packs some style, of just a little warm and thin to finish. Admirably well made for a Pinot at this price, if maybe just a little light on through the finish. Solid recommendation from me. Drink; 2015-2018. 17/20, 90/100, 13.8%, $21.99. Would I buy it? I’d drink a glass and recommend it widely.
Willow Creek Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir 2013
Great info on these Willow Creek labels. This Pinot is a blend of five clones picked over five days and sourced from vineyards giving just 2.5t/ha. Cool wine nerd stats (love them) but also a reminder of how serious a wine this is – those are Grand Cru Burgundy yields! Dark ruby with a teensy bit of purple, this certainly smells the part, the nose picking up a little oak sweetness (25% new wood) but not enough to derail proceedings. There’s cherry, bark and a little bacon too, the style reasonably extractive and ripe for Mornington, more reminiscent of fruit from further down the hill than Merricks North (but typical for the vintage) and with the grunt to match. Incidentally I tasted the wine first and then went back and read Geraldine McFaul’s accompanying note in the press release (it’s the best way. No preconceived ideas about production, then retaste after reading the blurb). A hat nod to Geraldine who honestly talks of the hot summer delivering wines that are much more ‘hedonistic’ that required a ‘watchful eye on structure to balance the fruit power’. The wines follow that script perfectly, if just a little heavy to be great. Length and concentration, however, are absolute first rate. Quality stuff, though I’d drink earlier as it does look a little forward. Drink: 2015-2019. 18/20, 93/100. 13.8%, $40. Would I buy it? I’d drink two glasses, maybe more with something meaty.
Delamere Tasmania Pinot Noir 2013
270 cases produced. Again more honesty here as Fran Austin (who runs Delamere with husband Shane) talks about how things have changed in the 7 years since they bought Delamere. No more nights spent nursing an entire vintage through a single old 750kg press! Ugh. Following trend, this Pinot is also from a warm year and it’s cast bigger and more masculine than some vintages, the colour more deep red, the nose a little more volatile and dense to match. While I like the extra structure and weight that such conditions have delivered, this Pinot comes across as a little too firm and raw for immediate drinking. There is excellent length though, with cherry fruit filtering through the finish. It’s just a little inelegant for the moment. Hold. Drink: 2016-2023. 17.7/20, 92/100+. 13.5%, $45. Would I buy it? Not at the moment. Next year maybe.
Apsley Gorge Tasmania Pinot Noir 2013
I don’t see this anywhere near as much as I’d like – the best years are up at the absolute pointy end of Aussie Pinot. That warm vintage has really marked this wine, Medium red with tawny edges, even the colour is forward. Stylistically it reminds me of old school Burgundy on the nose, stemmy and jammy all at once. Blackberry jam. Deep and concentrated though. Mighty ripe. Dry, firm and butch palate is driven by tannins, acid and grit, that firm stemmy edge particularly masculine and even hard, finishing with a slap of mint and astringent edges. Extremely powerful but also awkward, it absolutely needs 5 years and even then that big, bacony may not really satisfy as I’m not sure it has the fruit generosity to match the tannins. Excellent length still bumps the score up. Drink: 2016-2025. 17.5/20, 91/100+. 13.5%, $60 Would I buy it? No, I just don’t enjoy this style enough.
Bay of Fires Tasmania Pinot Noir 2014
I tasted this alongside the previous three (and the following) wines, and it’s obvious youth made this comparison a bit like comparing apples and oranges. The matchup makes sense, though. This is immediately much more purple too, magenta even, the nose jumping at you with its purple fruit and the emphasis of its oak. Despite that youthful over-exuberance, this is high quality wine and packs a vibrancy that goes beyond just oak and freshness of fruit, the finish very even. Delicious wine really, and sure to get even better when the puppy fat resolves out. Yes. Drink: 2016-2022. 18.5, 94/100. 13.5%, $49.99. Would I buy it? Yes, I’d probably drink the best part of a bottle too.
Hardy’s HRB D661 Tasmania & Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2014
No, I don’t know what the D661 bin number signifies. I mean, where does the D come from if they started these multi-regional blends with A01 in 1865? Anyway, this comes from a blend of Tasvegas and Yarra fruit. Bright magenta red, this isn’t quite as lurid coloured as the Bay of Fires but still bright. After the wines before it this looks like the volume has been turned down, the style spicy (a little whole bunch action?) and entirely juicy and purple fruited. It’s a nice wine, a warm and easy and considered wine that starts well but falls off just a little through the finish, lacking the same length and beauty. Still good Pinot, just not outrageously so. Drink: 2015-20120. 17.5/20, 91/100. 13.5%, $34.99