Like the excellent Airlie Road Blanc, this is another experimental wine from Punt Road given some unusual treatment. Here is the context from winemaker Tim Shand:
A week before vintage, a brewer, a winemaker and a cidermaker sat around over a beer/wine/cider and hatched a plan that would push the Airlie Bank envelope even further. We asked ourselves: what if we made a wine that represented arguably the three most significant threats to a Victorian vigneron? Thus was 2015 Airlie Bank Noir born. Those threats: 1. Brettanomyces 2. Smoke Taint 3. Phylloxera.
That translates into 1) deliberately fermenting with Brettanomyces bruxellensis yeast instead of the usual Saccharomyces; 2) making a metal rubbish bin into a smoker and hot smoking 60 bunches for 45 minutes; 3) using fruit off a vineyard with yields artificially reduced by phylloxera.
Excellent. Love seeing such boundary smashing. Even if it doesn’t work, it’s important to see such experimentation.
The wine? Well, it’s suitably weird. It smells smoky, of guaiacol taint – like certain vintages of Victorian reds, but in a deliberate way. Like smoked meats. I couldn’t pick much Brett, but there is a meatiness here (which could be from the smoked fruit too) like aged steak. Only medium bodied and driven by cranberry fruit, the tannic persistence is what makes this a sustainable drink.
An odd smoky, peaty red, I kept feeling like I was hanging fireside which put me off a bit. But invention and fun – coupled with the tannin drive and red fruit – gives this appeal beyond gimmickery. Just 55 dozen made. Best drinking: 2016-2020+. 13%, $22. 16.8/20, 89/100. Would I buy it? Not quite, but applaudable as a wine and concept.