Levantine Hill Colleen’s Paddock Pinot Noir 2015
Levantine Hill is the ultra-ambitious Yarra Valley winery of Melbourne property developer Elias Jreissati. Or at least that’s what Google tells me. In the wine trade, Levantine is seen as somewhere in between vanity project and Napa-esque super winery in the making. Like Opus One, but on an Australian scale, complete with a $50m budget, truffiere and a planned equestrian centre.
Personally, I’ve had limited contact with the wines so can cast no judgement. Just heard the stories of chopper rides and extravagant dinners. It’s a pleasure to see the wines now and judge for myself.
More broadly, these ‘money is no object’ projects can fall into two broad camps of success trajectory – they can produce great wines (Kooyong is a prime example) or provide lots of hype and ultimately flame out (like Thousand Candles).
With Paul Bridgeman (ex Yarra Yering) in the cellar, and a quality vineyard source behind it (even though the vines are young), there is unquestionably promise with this project. I wonder how it will go?
Promise or not, even I was sceptical when the bottles turned up. They’re huge, chunky things, with punts so big you could lose a hand in there, and ginormous pricetags. It’s the sort of packaging you’d expect in Napa, or maybe a French chateau-backed operation in Chile. Not the Yarra.
Hype, hype, hype.
Scepticism noted, I dived in. It’s what’s inside that counts, no?
Happily, this Pinot is delicious.
What I like about this wine – and indeed all the Levantine Hill releases (more to come – the Cab blend is also v. fine) – is the finesse. Sometimes with mega projects, the approach is to go big. More new oak. More ripeness. MORE! But this, well, is not about more. It’s filigreed, fine, well-spoken. Tailored. Less is more.
Further, it’s 13% alcohol. There is natural acidity, yet not hard. On first glance, I’d have called this as 2017, not 2015; such is the primal red fruit. Freshness. Then sappy, raspberry redcurrant, the taste of incredibly expensive oak (50% new) and some whole bunches to flesh out the tannins.
Given that the vineyard is still very young (hard to get a fix on exactly when it was planted, but they’re less than ten years old) ,I’m surprised to see the stuffing here – clearly a well-managed plot. Impressive.
This is perhaps missing that final 1% to propel it to top-of-the-Yarra quality, but no doubting the final wine – this is tasty, tasteful, fine and earthen Pinot Noir with style and detail.
Best drinking: Good now to five years. 18.5/20, 94/100. 13%, $200. Would I buy it? No. But only because I can’t justify the pricetag. I enjoyed drinking it, and so did my family.
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