It’s only the 16th August but this has been one glorious month for Pinot Noir.
Each and every one of these wines went down well at Australian Wine Review HQ, with the only question marks here about price. I keep thinking about how delicious the Terraced Hills & First Foot Forward wines are in this context…
Stefano Lubiana Il Giardino Pinot Noir 2017
Single vineyard, single block, singularly superb Pinot Noir from Stefano Lubiana. All three of these top dog Pinot releases have weight, oak and tannins – Grand Cru Burgundy is clearly in the headlights. Il Giardino means ‘The Garden’ and the block was originally a market garden planted to brassicas. This is easily the pick of the range for mine, coupling bright red fruit with that rumbling, rather powerful palate. The fruit almost goes into plum mode, though it’s prettier than the other Lubiana single block wines. I very much like the tannins here – classy, finessed, and lively. Top shelf Pinot with heart and flavour.
Best drinking: now to at least seven years. 18.7/20, 95/100. 13.5%, $100. Would I buy it? Slightly out of my price range but ultimately fair for Grand Cru depth.
Stefano Lubiana La Roccia Pinot Noir 2017
La Roccia – the rock. This block has a limestone ‘shelf’ through the middle. Ultra ambitious Pinot it is too – it’s framed like a Shiraz, the oak and extract giving this grip and girth. After being opened for a day the tannins hadn’t gone anywhere, which suggests this will make old bones. Classy, irrepressibly powerful and deep Pinot, even if it’s not quite the sensual experience – a bit too rigid and structural for that. I can appreciate the power regardless (even if I’d prefer drinking Il Giardino).
Best drinking: now to ten years+. 18.5/20, 94/100. 13.5%, $100. Would I buy it? Worth sharing a bottle, though out of my price bracket.
Oakridge 864 Henk Vineyard Aqueduct Block Pinot Noir 2018
The top of the Oakridge Pinot tree, sourced from a single block at Gladysdale. High class it is too – although I’m not convinced it’s on a higher quality plane than the Willowlake below for half the price. This is still immediately appealing and even quite pretty, there’s this disarming red fruit pinosity that is irrepressible. The fruit is heading towards plum, with some of the warmer ripeness fruit of ’18. Purity is the strong point here, even if that might come at the cost of some structure. It almost feels a little safe? I’m quibbbling, as this is a lovely, regional and varietal highlight.
Best drinking: now to seven years. 18.5/20, 94/100. 13.1%, $90. Would I buy it? I’d drink it but buy the Willowlake.
Oakridge Vineyard Series Willowlake Pinot Noir 2018
Year in, year out, the Willowlake Vineyard is the source of Pinot Noir I want to drink and this is a seductress – easily the pick in the 2018 Oakridge range. Light ruby, light colours, the fruit gentle, ripe, pretty, moreish. It’s sneaky in its persistence, silken, ripe, effortless if a little more rounded than the perfect ’17 iteration. Appeal, elegance and more delivered at a very fair price.
Best drinking: now to seven years. 18.5/20, 94/100. 13.6%, $44. Would I buy it? Yes yes.
Oakridge Vineyard Series Hazeldene Pinot Noir 2018
From a north-facing block at Gladysdale. Easily the lightest of the Vineyard Series releases, it’s high toned and just a little volatile, pretty, red fruited. It’s an open and moreish wine, with quite understated red fruit, if missing some of the tannins of the best releases. Moreish though, which is ultimately all that counts.
Best drinking: now to five years. 18/20, 93/100. 13.3%, $44. Would I buy it? I’d share a bottle.
Stefano Lubiana Ruscello Single Block Pinot Noir 2017
‘Ruscello translates to ‘small mountain stream’. The Ruscello block is located near a little creek that runs mostly in winter through the middle of the property. This block has a very gentle north-facing slope’ (winery notes).
Less formidable than the La Roccia, but still firm and extractive. Dark chocolate oak dominant which is a little surprising, the nose sappy, dark red fruited, dry, powerful, brooding, the tannins chocolatey and dry. Has power and grunt, if not quite the vibrant fruit of the other wines. Still an impressive mouthful of Pinot Noir.
Best drinking: now to ten years. 18/20, 93/100. 13.5%, $100. Would I buy? I’d drink a bottle but not buy it.
Levantine Hill Colleen’s Paddock Pinot Noir 2016
I love the deft oak on the Levantine Hill wines. Sexy sexy oak. Colleen’s Paddock is from the Family Paddock range, with Colleen’s Paddock situated in a suntrap on the lowest and coolest party of the Levantine Hill estate. Multiple different ferments, differing pick dates and more Bright red raspberry fruit, the palate lifted by vanilla bean oak, the fruit slightly confected before a light finish. There’s conviction in the winemaking and gee it is stylish, another lovely gentle and entirely pleasant wine. It just needs a little more length and gravitas for this pricepoint – lightly underdone fruit from a very tricky vintage.
Best drinking: now to seven years. 17.7/20, 92/100. 13%, $200. Would I buy it? I’d drink it, but I can’t justify the dollars.
First Foot Forward Pinot Noir 2019
Charm at a blinding price. Martin Siebert’s wines are always pictures of delicacy delivered at too-cheap prices. This is no exception. Gentle red fruit, the style lithe, even-handed and so well built, a little vanilla bean oak to sweeten up the middle and then a gentle finish. Maybe not profound – a bit light for that – but has character and such drinkability. Yes.
Best drinking: now to five years. 17.7/20, 92/100. 13.5%, $28. Would I buy it? Absolutely.
The Other Wine Co. Pinot Noir 2019
Tasmanian Pinot from Shaw & Smith’s impressive early drinking label. I’ve seen this Other Wine Co. Pinot touted as ‘baby Tolpuddle’ but it is a very different wine. Less herbs and tannins, more bright smashability, like all The Other Wine Co. wines. Has an undeniable accessibility and vibrancy but a tier above the simple fruit – there’s the acid line which is real quality, and fine-boned tannins too. Pinot joy with refreshment.
Best drinking: now to six years. 17.7/20, 92/100. 13.5%, $35. Would I buy it? Sure would.
Terraced Hills Pinot Noir 2018
At last some delicacy in a well-priced Adelaide Hills Pinot. This comes from Dom Torzi’s empire and it’s a natural-born charmer. Bright, raspberried, unforced. I wouldn’t call it strictly varietal – that fruit is almost Grenache like in its red fruit expression. But it is smooth, silky, and very drinkable. A winner at this price.
Best drinking: now to five years. 17.5/20, 91/100. 13.5%, $28. Would I buy it? Worth a bottle.