Pinot Noir Benchmark Tasting

A Sommeliers Australia event

hosted by

Sam Badger and Lamont’s Cotesloe

Reviewed: 10 December 2012

This was an interesting tasting, with the 2010 wines from Australia showing well. In particular, the Provenence was a highlight. I was also very impressed by the Evesham Wood from Oregon. The highlight however, was the bracket of Burgundies. There were a couple of superb (if expensive) wines on show.

Christmas is around the corner and if there was one wine that I could have in my stocking, it would be the Mazi Chambertain from Harmand Geoffery. This is a spectacular wine by any measure and has a reminded me how good Burgundy can be.

Thanks again to Sam, Lamont’s and Sommeliers Australia.


Domaine A – Pinot Noir – 2010 (17.5 – 18). Deep colour compared to some here, perhaps reflecting the extra bottle age. Quite a meaty wine that lacks some floral prettiness initially, but this really opens up with air to reveal ripe strawberry fruit. On the palate, there is actually some pepper and spice. Good length, fine tannins and structured oak are all sympathetic, while the taut acid suits the style well. Long and fine close, this has an elegant structure. (Tasmania).

Ocean Eight – Pinot Noir – 2010 (17.8). Very pale colour, though the wine is not crystal clear. Strawberry aromas to the fore with a touch of herbaceousness and soy. Very pretty fruit on a palate that is fresh and bright. Supple and textured, the long and savoury finish here is shut down by the tannins and oak. Experience suggests that this should fill out and deepen, both in colour and weight, over the next few years. (Mornington Peninsula).

Mac Forbes – Pinot Noir – Woori Yallock – 2010 (17.5 – 18). The nose is closed and unyielding right now. This has sappy, cherry fruit characters on the palate, the length is excellent and the structure well judged. Souring acidity adds to the wine and there are hints of fresh red plum and cedar to close. A lovely wine that will be at its best in 5 – 7 years. (Yarra Valley).

Provenance – Pinot Noir – 2010 (18 – 18.5). Fresh strawberry with hints of raspberry compote. The palate is a revelation, with dark cherry fruit, a touch of herbs and plenty of spice to close. The oak is firm, though complements the fruit, while the powdery tannins are fine and restrained. The depth and intensity of this wine makes it the standout in this bracket. Now to 10 years. (Geelong).

Pegasus Bay – Pinot Noir – 2009 (17.5). Fleshy fruit on the nose with plum and savoury notes too. The palate is fleshy, long and full of plump fruit. The tannins are slightly chalky which adds to the appeal. This is a very forward, approachable style with generous, sweet fruit and appealing structure. Of all the wines tasted, this is the wine that I would serve today if friends popped over as it is just so easy to drink. (Waipara).

Evesham Wood – Pinot Noir – 2009 (18). Tight red berries up-front here with a hint of violet perfume and even aniseed. The palate is bright and fresh, with a touch of oak and spice on display. Succulent and juicy, with excellent tannins and acid that really freshen up the finish. I like the way the acid and tannins cut through the fruit. With chewy/savoury characters to close, this wine grew on me. (Oregon).

Rippon – Pinot Noir – 2009 (18 – 18.5). I like this a lot. The nose is dense, though the fruit characters are hard to pin down. The palate is in the same mould and is silky, soft, textured, supple and long. There is density to the fruit, though again the flavour profile is hard to pin down. It was noted by some that this was the most complex wine on show from NZ, with a hint of truffle, mushroom, white pepper and savoury spice. Evolves and builds with air to show lovely texture. Great drinking now, but even better in 5 years.

Domaine de Montille – Volnay – 1er Cru -Pinot Noir – La Carelle – 2009 (17.5 – 18). Silky, sweet, perfumed, cherry-like fruit aromas to open. This is quite straightforward initially, though there is nice structure and the fruit develops in the glass and in the mouth. Supple and silky, this needs a few years to develop, but will offer plenty of drinking charm. A lovely spicy wine.

Domaine Harmand Geoffroy – Mazi Chambertin – Grand Cru – Pinot Noir – 2009 (18.5 – 19). An outstanding wine that combines lovely fruit with savoury, almost earthy characters in a dense and powerful package. The palate is unbelievably good, with intense fruit, superb structure and superb balance. The palate is near seamless and evolves for some time with a touch of chocolate developing over the cherry fruit. This fans out on the finish and develops a panoply of flavours. The fruit has absorbed the high-quality oak leaving the textural components rather than overt flavours. The length is truly outstanding. An amazingly powerful wine that could be drunk now or in ten years with pleasure.

Domaine Bonneau de Martray – Corton – Grand Cru – Pinot Noir – 2009 (18.5). Whilst closed on both the nose and palate, the fruit is ripe, in the attractive sour cherry spectrum, with a touch of savoury spice and plum. This is a savoury wine that relies more on texture than primary fruit to deliver impact. The finish is very long, powerful and dense and evolves for some time on the palate. The tannins are silky, yet slightly chewy to close. Whilst not as overtly powerful as the Mazi, this is like the proverbial iron fist in a velvet glove, as the latent power is palpable. Needs time to live up to its potential.

Domaine Meo Cazumet – Vosne Romanee – 1er Cru – Pinot Noir – Les Charmes – 2008 (18.5). The (sweet) oak is more apparent on both the nose and palate here. The fruit is very subdued now, but there is no doubting the quality of this wine. There is great intensity to the fruit and the palate evolves and builds for a long time. The fruit has great depth and power, though of all the wines here, this needs the most time to hit its peak. Angular, long, tannic, intense, powerful, textured and precise, this is an outstanding wine of great structure, but please be patient.