Bass Phillip Pinot Noir – 2015 Vintage Review
Barry Weinman: 31st May 2017
When it comes to Australian Pinot Noir, the reputation of Bass Phillip is unequalled. Their reputation is backed up by the prices that their top wines sell for. The range tops out with the Reserve at closer to $600. The entry level wines, however, are most reasonably priced, starting with the Old Cellar ($35), followed by the Crown Prince ($60).
Several things struck me during the tasting:
The Crown Prince is the best value Pinot. There is a clear family resemblance across the range, especially between the Crown Prince, Estate and Reserve, and the Crown Prince gives access to the Bass Phillip style at an affordable price.
A second point is that the Gamay is seriously good drinking and, at $50, is a relative bargain. Despite having the more illustrious Pinot range open, this is the wine that I chose to have a glass of with dinner.
Finally, the wines are different to other new world Pinots. For a start, they are unfiltered. The wines for this tasting arrived shortly before we started, so there was a slight cloudiness apparent. The clarity was restored once the wines sat for a few hours. The challenge is that, when served in a masked line-up, the wines stand out. So objective assessment becomes a little more difficult.
The wines are also made embracing biodynamic principles, which may result in more vintage-to-vintage variation. I n 2015, the wines are notable for their relatively low alcohol content, ranging from 12.5 to 13.2%.
If you are familiar with Bass Philip, then you will require little encouragement to seek out the range. If you are not familiar with the wines, then the Crown Prince is a great entrée. If you are looking for a delicious drink over the coming cooler months, then the Gamay is my pick.
N.B. Points not allocated as the wines were easily identified in the tasting.
Bass Phillip – Gamay – 2015 ($50). The colour is a touch more earthy than the Pinots. The fruit here is serious, with genuine depth and complexity. The palate is alive and delicious. The fine acidity balances the ripe berry fruit perfectly, leaving the palate fresh and ready for a second sip. The delicacy of the fruit is a real highlight (this grape deserves more popularity in Australia).
Bass Phillip – Pinot Noir – Old Cellar – 2015. (RRP $35). Trademark cloudy appearance. There is an attractive fleshiness that reminds me of Central Otago. Relatively straightforward and approachable, yet there is enough depth to the fruit on the finish to make an impression. Drink over the next 2 – 3 years. 13% alc.
Bass Phillip – Pinot Noir – Crown Prince – 2015 ($59). A delicate wine that has high quality, plum-like fruit on show. The palate is elegant, supple and fine, with the acid adding drive to the finish. Superb mouth-feel a highlight. Will be great with food now, but sure to improve over the next 5 years.
Bass Phillip – Pinot Noir – Estate – 2015 ($80). Just a hint of cloudiness. Extremely complex and concentrated, yet the vibrant fruit has density without excessive weight. Cherry, jubes, clove and nutmeg complement the strawberry characters. On the finish, the fine tannins and acid serve to keep the fruit in check and keep the palate fresh and alive. Supple mouth-feel and excellent line/length. Finishes with fine tannins and a whisper of oak. It took two days to hit its best, so cellaring potential is assured. 12.5% alc
Bass Phillip – Pinot Noir – Issan Vineyard – 2015 ($85). Brick red colour. This is a different style compared to the Estate. Initially subdued on the nose. The red berry fruit is pretty and fragrant, building depth with air. The palate is balanced and supple. Whilst not overtly powerful, there is depth to the fruit that is quite captivating. Takes on a masculine structure, reminding me of Gevrey Chambertain. 12.8% alc. Vineyard established in 1994.
Bass Phillip – Pinot Noir – Premium – 2015 ($220). Opaque, brick red colour. Nose initially muted, but the fragrant, pretty fruit came to the fore with air. The balance is exemplary, the fine acidity providing a refreshing counterpoint to the dense fruit. There is depth behind the floral fruit, with fine oak providing structure. With air the fruit builds in waves, and fans out across the palate. After two days on the tasting bench, this was outstanding so a sure bet for 5 – 10 years in the cellar.