Reviewed: 11th January 2015
Pinot Noir is the Holy Grail for many winemakers and consumers alike. Site selection is critical, as is the use of the best varietal clones in the vineyard.
Over the last decade, the overall quality of Australian (and New Zealand) Pinot Noirs has really lifted, with great efforts being taken to plant vineyards in the right (cooler) locations, as well as careful clonal selection to ensure that the fruit produced is of suitable quality. There has also been a refinement in the way the fruit is handled in the winery.
All of these factors, when added together, have resulted in a plethora of excellent (if not overly cheap) wines from the likes of the Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula, Tasmania and Central Otago.
The wines reviewed below epitomize the results of this quest for excellence. From the good value Madfish to the truly outstanding wine from Coldstream Hills, all wines are worth exploring. From a value perspective, the Shaw & Smith straddles the middle ground between quality and price. Not cheap, but very good.
Coldstream Hills – Pinot Noir – Reserve – 2013 (18.7+). Starts off quite closed in a more masculine style. There is no doubting the quality of the fruit here, but this is shrouded in a cloak of structure. That said, the tannins are very fine. Given air, the fruit builds and there is a herbal edge to add life and interest. Needs years to show its best, but will handsomely reward those who can cellar it. (RRP $85).
Hardys – Pinot Noir – Eileen Hardy – 2013 (18.3). A lighter style that, whilst relatively austere and one-dimensional now, has excellent fruit quality and superb wine-making. The way this builds in the mouth with air is a treat, developing complex, cool climate varietal characters. The dense fruit, earthy notes, excellent mouth-feel and great length make for a classic new-world Pinot. Just give it plenty of air if you are going to drink it now (RRP $95).
Shaw & Smith – Pinot Noir – 2013 (18+). Succulent sweet fruit, yet there is a savoury element, with earthy undertones. Opens with pretty, strawberry-like fruit on the palate, followed by souring, cherry/plum-like acidity. There is excellent length and persistence on the finish. This is a very impressive wine that whilst a joy straight out of the bottle, will age very well in the short-medium term. (RRP $45).
Madfish – Pinot Noir – 2010 (17). A sappy, savoury expression of Pinot. Lighter fruit weight, but with enough depth to elevate it above the ordinary. Smart wine, with the fruit building on the finish. A decent effort for a relatively cheap Pinot. (RRP $18).