Category Archives: Pinot Noir – Wine Reviews

Pinot Noir: New Release May 2019

Barry Weinman: 25th May 2019

Pinot Noir remains the holy grail for many wine drinkers. At its best, the grape is capable of producing wines of extraordinary beauty and complexity. All too often, however, events in the vineyard (and winery) conspire to make less than exciting wines.

In this tasting, for example, of the 16 wines reviewed only two made it to this review. Fortunately, the two that made it are both cracking wines. Different in style to each other, but both delicious examples of Australian Pinot Noir.


Pooley – Pinot Noir – 2017 (18/20pts – $45). Perfumed and lifted fruit on the nose leads onto a palate that has sweet cherry and berry fruit, with just a hint of fresh plum and spice. This is quite rich and opulent, in a most attractive way. On the finish, the fruit flavours linger and are framed by fine acidity and tannins. Great drinking now with food.  From Tasmania

Mac Forbes – Pinot Noir – Yarra Valley – 2018 (18/20pts – $33). Whilst the single vineyard wines from Mac Forbes tend to steal the limelight, it was the entry-level Yarra Valley Pinot Noir that got the panel the most excited, due to the value that it offers. Initially a little shy, but there is really good fruit on show. Builds depth with air, the fruit becoming very attractive and fragrant. The palate is a little lean and sinewy to start, but again hits its straps with air. Good value.

Mac Forbes 2015 Release

Mac Forbes 2015 Release

Although many of you will have trouble believing me, the life of a wine taster is more often dull and tedious than exciting or fun. Having to wade through dozens of wines each week to find the gems that I can recommend is hard work.

There are however, two occasions where tasting is a joy. One is sitting down with a few friends to try some old/interesting wines from our cellars. The other is sitting down with a capable winemaker to try a cross-section of wines and discuss the philosophy behind those wines.

Falling into the second category was sharing a meal with Mac Forbes while tasting through his 2015 releases.

Mac takes a hands-off approach to winemaking, in an effort to allow the individual vineyards truly express their characteristics.

How the wines are sealed deserves a special mention. Depending on the variety, Mac is looking for the seal to aid in the wines development. As you would expect, a number of the whites and the Yarra Valley Pinot are sealed with screw caps, but two other closures are currently in use. One is a nifty cork alternative and the other is natural cork.

The use of Ardea Seal synthetic cork rather than a screw cap was dictated by the oxygen permeability characteristics, which mimic cork. These look smart, appear to seal well, and are easier to extract (when young at least). The top wines are currently sealed with natural cork, and use of this will increase in 2016.

The rationale given for the move back to cork relates to the impact that cork can have on the wine as it ages. This includes permeability, as well as the effect the cork itself has on the wine. When asked about the risks associated with using corks, Mac believes that with careful selection of the supplier, as well as rigorous testing of each batch of corks, the risk of taint can be minimised.

There is no doubt in my mind that cork producers have had to lift their game, so I will be interested to see the feedback that Mac gets over the coming years.

Whilst the focus is on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, there is also an excellent 2016 Riesling sourced from the Strathbogie Ranges. I swear I could taste the mineral composition of the soil in this wine. Racy, balanced and morish!

Chardonnay – 2015


The 2015 Yarra Valley Chardonnay is a wine that will make a few friends. Here is a wine that offers a degree of generosity to the fruit, yet has balance along with decent textural components. At $30, this represents excellent early drinking.

The Single vineyard wines offered more personality and, whilst a little more restrained, had increased depth and power. At around $50, the Hoddles Creek and Woori Yallock Chardonnays are not exactly cheap, but they do showcase the quality of Yarra Chardonnay.

Pinot Noir – 2015

Like the Chardonnay, the Yarra Valley Pinot Noir deserves to be popular. The fruit is ripe and succulent, with excellent acidity and mouth-feel. A great drink over the coming summer.

It was the single vineyard Pinots however that really showcased what Mac Forbes is trying to achieve. Crafting individualistic wines where the vineyards and climate dictate what the wines will taste like. The hands-off approach in the winery includes the use of no new oak in any of the single vineyard wines.


The Coldstream ($50) is the only wine that is made from fruit coming from flat lands in the Yarra. I really liked this wine as it combined a degree of generosity with elegance and poise. The Hoddles Creek and Yarra Junction (both $50) come from higher up in the valley, with the microclimate influencing how the wines express. For me, the Hoddles Creek was my pick and will cellar well for at least 5 – 8 years.


At the top of the range are the Wesburn and the Woori Yallock ($75). I was surprised at just how differently these two wines showed. The Wesburn was all minty with a hint of eucalypt, whereas the Woori Yallock was refined and elegant, with a purity to the Pinot fruit that no other wine in the line-up could match. A brilliant wine.

Felton Road 2015 New Release

Felton Road – 2015 New Release

Barry Weinman: 20th November 2016

The chance to taste the newly released 2015 Felton Road Pinots was an opportunity too good to miss. Needless to say, the quality of the wines was outstanding.

The quality of the Chardonnays was right up there with the Pinots, and the Rieslings provided an interesting counterpoint to the styles typically produced in Australia.

N.B. This was not a blind panel tasting, so please take my points as a guide only.


Felton Road – Riesling – Bannockburn – 2016 (17.5pts – $39). Fresh lime juice and floral characters leap from the glass. Gorgeous, off-dry palate, with apple and rosewater flavours. The finish is long and fine, with enough acid to keep the balance. Different to a German Kabinett, but worthwhile.

Felton Road – Riesling – Dry – 2016 (18.3pts – RRP $39). More minerality here, with subdued fruit initially. The palate is bright and fresh, with steely characters to the fore. Reminds me of a Clare Riesling, though with less overt citrus characters. Builds depth and power in the glass.

Felton Road – Riesling – Block 1 – 2016 (18 – 18.5pts – $51). Restrained and taut, giving away little on the nose. The palate is off-dry (though appears less sweet than the Bannockburn), with similar apple and floral characters, though there is more depth and texture, with excellent acidity adding balance.

Felton Road – Chardonnay – Bannockburn – 2015 (17.5pts – $56). The nose is quite complex, with barrel ferment and lees characters over creamy oak. The palate is quite firm and structured, with honeyed fruit notes. Long, and a touch robust right now, there is a nutty minerality to the finish. Not quite the depth of the Block wines, but will develop with a year or two in bottle.

Felton Road – Chardonnay – Bannockburn – Block 2 – 2015 (18.5pts – $69). So much more finesse and poise than the standard wine. There are all of the worked characters, but this is more subtle and balanced. Minerality and fine acidity add to the restraint and balance. A modern reserved style that will age well for years to come.block_6_chardonnay

Felton Road – Chardonnay – Bannockburn – Block 6 – 2015 (18.7pts – $69). The finest of the chardonnays and very restrained and elegant. The palate is brilliant. Fine and elegant, the subtle fruit is perfectly ripe. The structural components are tightly married to the fruit, making for a seamless finish. A superb wine. Now to 8 years.

Felton Road – Pinot Noir – Bannockburn – 2015 (18+pts – $76). Not quite as fruit forward as the 2014, this has more savoury characters to the cherry/plum fruit. Quite earthy, with almost brambly fruit. With air, the fruit shines. The mouth-feel is supple, though the tannins provide a firm edge. Would benefit from a few years in the cellar.

Felton Road – Pinot Noir Cornish – 2015 (18.5pts – $89). Quite closed and tight. The palate is fine, elegant and structured, though the high quality fruit is somewhat suppressed. That said, there is no denying the quality or the outstanding mouth-feel and texture. This will blossom in 3 – 5 years as the cherry fruit emerges from its structural cocoon.calvert_2015

Felton Road – Pinot Noir – Calvert Vineyard – 2015 (18.6pts $89). Restraint and balance are the key features. Supple, seamless, earthy notes, cherry, spice and brilliant mouth-feel. Very long and fine, this is the most refined wine to date and my pick to drink now (or in 5+ years).block_3_pinot_2015

Felton Road – Pinot Noir – Block 3 – 2015 (18.8pts – $122). Wow, this has the balance of the Calvert, with more intrinsic depth and power to the fruit. The cherry fruit sits comfortably within the structural elements. There are earthy notes and great length, but the sublime fruit is the main focus. A wonderful wine anytime over the next 8 years. My pick of the tasting!

Felton Road – Pinot Noir – Block 5 – 2015 (18.5+pts – $122). The vibrant fruit is more overt than in the Block 3.There is inherent depth and power, yet there is silky, almost jube-like fruit on the palate. Despite being seamless, on the palate this is actually quite closed and subdued. An almost ethereal wine for the aficionados, though this may be overlooked initially.

Pinot Noir – New Release


Pinot Noir – New Release

Barry Weinman: 3rd July 2016

Ethereal at its best, yet notoriously difficult to get right. Given the challenges in producing the wine, finding good value Pinot is indeed difficult.

This task has been made a little easier with the release of the 2014 Artemis Pinot Noir from the Southern Highlands of NSW. The quality is excellent and, at $25 from Dan Murphy, the value is undeniable.

Howard Park’s Flint Rock is another excellent value wine, from a producer normally associated with Cabernet. A pretty, elegant style from the Great Southern.

The Walkerville Pinot has an interesting back-story. Produced by the Rich family (Philip Rich is formerly of Prince Wine Store), the wine is made by the talented Sandro Mosele from Kooyong Estate. The first vines were planted in 2006, and 2013 is the first vintage released (220 dozen produced).


ARTEMIS PINOT NOIRArtemis – Pinot Noir – Southern Highlands – 2014 (18pts – $25). Lighter hue. Lovely fruit here. This is an elegant style, where the fine structural components frame the gentle fruit nicely. Excellent length and the finish fans out across the palate. Will evolve and build for a few years in bottle, as the fruit builds depth with air. A bargain!

Walkerville – Pinot Noir – South Gippsland – 2013 (18pts – $55). This has rich, high quality fruit, and the wine has been seriously made. Cherry, plum, fennel, spice, with hints of cedar from the oak. The tannins shut down the finish, so give it a bit of air. The palate is very long and textured. A savoury treat that would be a delight with roast duck.224325-11HPPN web smallHoward Park – Pinot Noir – Flint Rock – 2015 (17.8pts – $28). Vibrant, forward, sweet fruit, with hints of fennel and spice. Cherry flavours on the palate are balanced by souring acidity. Was even better the next day. Delicious, this will also do well with a couple of years in the bottle.

Yerring Station – Pinot Noir – Village – 2013 (17.5pts – $24). Subdued initially, building a pretty floral fragrancy with air. The palate is slightly sappy and savoury, with decent length. Builds density and complexity in the glass, with the fruit evolving for some time on the finish. Slightly chewy tannins to close suggest short-term cellaring might be in order. Good value.

Red Burgundy

Red Burgundy – Part Two

Barry Weinman: 10th February 2016

The panel looked at a few of the Red Burgundies imported by Lamont’s in Cottesloe.

With a number of producers and villages represented, there are a variety of styles available. They vary in price and quality, but are worth trying. If John Jens is in the restaurant, you may be able to try one or two by the glass.IMG_0865


Domaine Des Beaumont – Pinot Noir – Morey Saint Denis – 1er Cru – Les Millandes – 2013 (18.5+). Closed on the nose. The palate is dense and powerful, though it needs some time for the fruit to build into the structure. A masculine wine, with cherry, plum and real purity to the fruit. Impressive. (RRP $180).

Pierre Morey – Pinot Noir – Pommard – 1er Cru – Grands Epenots – 2012. (18.3). (RRP $200). Quite deep smelling, with floral notes and hints of roast meats. There is depth and power to the fruit. The palate is long, dense, savory and powerful, with supple cherry and spice. Superb drinking now, but will age well in the short term.

Domaine Bzikot – Pinot Noir – Volnay – 2013 (18). (RRP $80). Bright and fresh, with vibrant fruit and acidity. Mouthwatering and succulent, this is long and expansive. Builds in the glass. Good Value! Crying out for roast duck or other rich dishes.

New Burgundy Imports


New Burgundy Imports

Barry Weinman: 23 December 2015

Fluctuations in the Australian dollar have impacted on the price of some imported wines over the last few years. Whilst the big houses’ prices have stayed relatively stable, I have noticed fairly big shifts in the price of some wines, particularly from Burgundy. For a period, there was a flood of great value wines, but as the dollar has fallen, prices have risen accordingly.

Prices today now appear to be back around traditional levels. With this in mind, I was pleased to be able to look through a range of direct import wines brought in by Lamont’s. Whilst the wines are in no way cheap, they do offer a cross-section of styles, often showing excellent typicity and high quality.

My notes below are first impressions. There were over 60 available for tasting, so I did not dwell on any of the wines for long. Also, as the tasting was not a blind tasting, I have not allocated points to any of the wines.


After very good vintages in 2009 and 2010 for both red and white Burgundy, 2011, 2012 and 2013 were more variable.

According to Jancis Robinson (, in both ‘12 and ‘13 the high quality of white Burgundy proved much better than most expected. The downside was that volumes were much reduced. 2011 was not so lucky.

Reds fared better in some parts in 2011, but again, the ‘12s and ‘13s fared were stronger overall.

The Wine Enthusiast was more supportive of 2011, as was The Wine Advocate.:

First Impressions

Pernot Belicard – Chardonnay – Puligny Montrachet – 2012. Fairly straightforward, but clear typicity. Minerality and texture over fresh fruit, hints of grapefruit and melon. ($122)

Pernot Belicard – Chardonnay – Puligny Montrachet – Champ Canet – 2013. Fine minerality and fruit, with hints of flint. This is really smart. The palate is bright, textured and long, with a fine finish. ($186).

Pernot Belicard – Chardonnay – Puligny Montrachet – Perrierres – 2013. Bigger, richer and more expressive. Long, powerful palate with stone fruit in the peach spectrum, minerals and melon. Great length to close. ($186).

Pernot Belicard – Chardonnay – Mersault – Perrierres – 2013. Refined and balanced. Less overt power than its sister wine from Puligny, but with lovely grace and balance. Long and fine, with gentle minerality to close. A graceful wine. ($255).

Pierre Morey – Mersault – 1er Cru – Charmes – 2013. Quite generous fruit, yet the acid and minerals add restraint and balance. Long and refined, this is a smart wine with a zesty finish. ($199).Pierre Morey

Jean Monnier et fils – Meursault Genenrieres – 1er Cru – 2013. The potential is there, but this is quite acidic and restrained at present. Hints of smoke to close. Taut and fresh, give it 5 years to show its best. ($98)

Phillippe Livera – Pinot Noir – Gevery Chambertain – Clos Village – 2011. Fragrant cherry fruit on the nose. The palate is light and fresh, the weight matching the gentle fruit. Good length, this wine will suit current drinking. ($104).

Phillippe Livera – Pinot Noir – Gevery Chambertain – Clos Village – 2012. More depth and density compared to the 2011. Cherry fruit and supple spice, with a core of minerality. This finish is defined by fine, drying tannins which frame the fruit perfectly. Long and supple finish. Now – 5 years. ($104).

Phillippe Livera – Pinot Noir – Chapelle Chambertain – Grand Cru – 2010. Feminine, delicate fruit on the nose. The palate has cherry and spice, with cedary oak. The power here really builds, gaining depth and texture. The length is a feature. A spectacular wine with innate power, reflecting the vintage. ($N/A).

Domaine Humbert Freres – Pinot Noir – Gevery Chambertain – 1er Cru – Estrournelles St Jacques – 2012. A lovely purity to the fruit, with power and structure. This is a big wine that needs a few years, but will reward ($255).

Jean-Marc Millot – Pinot Noir – Echezeaux – Grand Cru – 2011. Limpid appearance. This is pretty, refined and elegant. There are cherry fruit notes with subtle spice. Delicate, this is a great effort for the year. ($264).

Pierre Morey – Pinot Noir – Pommard – 1er Cru – Grand Epenots – 2012. Cherry, spice and supple tannins all feature here, with bright acidity driving the finish. Angular, this needs a few years to let the high quality fruit shine. ($192).

Pierre Morey – Pinot Noir – Pommard – 1er Cru – Grand Epenots – 2013. For current drinking, I prefer the balance here. More feminine and refined, with gentle structure. Drink over the next few years while waiting for the 2012 to hit its straps. ($196).

Emilie Geantet – Pinot Noir – Gevery Chambertain – Vieille Vignes – 2013. Grace and power is a feature of all Geantet wines, and this is no exception. Refined, elegant and silky. Souring acidity adds life. Cherry spectrum fruit and a very clean finish. ($125). Emiie Geantet

Emilie Geantet – Pinot Noir – Gevery Chambertain – 1er Cru – Les Champeaux – 2013. Seductive nose, with cherry and anise. The cherry fruit here is breathtaking: intense, yet refined and balanced. The finish is long and supple, with tight knit oak adding depth. Evolves and builds. A superb wine and my pick of the tasting. I might need to have a word to Santa… ($192).


Crittenden Estate – Pinot Noir

Crittenden Estate – Pinot Noir

Barry Weinman: 18th November 2015

Wines made with Pinot Noir are some of the most challenging to make. That said, there are a few winemakers in Australia who have mastered the art, including the likes of Phillip Jones at Bass Philip and Mac Forbes.

Rollo Crittenden produced an excellent range of wines in 2012, from a vintage that was widely acclaimed across the region. The release of the 2013/2014 wines presented an excellent opportunity to get a further glimpse at how the wines at Crittenden Estate are progressing.

Barrel Hall

Barrel Hall at Crittenden Estate*

What struck me about all the wines reviewed was their drinkability. From the entry level Geppetto, to the powerful Zumma, there was an immediacy to the wines that was attractive and moreish. With the exception of the Geppetto, all the wines will benefits from a few years in bottle, but they are drinking well now.


Crittenden Estate Peninsula PinotNoirCrittenden Estate – Pinot Noir – Geppetto – 2014. (17). A touch closed and subdued on the nose initially. The palate is refined and elegant, with pretty fruit balanced by fine tannins and supple oak. Cherry and menthol come to mind. Soft and supple, this is an uncomplicated wine that is good drinking. (RRP $24).

Crittenden Estate – Pinot Noir – Peninsula – 2014 (17.7). Whole bunch notes on the nose, over sour cherry fruit. The palate is taut and muscular, with fine tannins and texturing oak shutting down the fruit. Everything is in place, but this needs a year or two to hit its straps. ($34 from the Winery)

Crittenden Estate The ZummaPinotNoirCrittenden Estate – Pinot Noir – Kangerong – 2013 (17.8). A heady nose that combines perfume with fresh red berries and a jube-like lift. The palate is soft and plush, with soft tannins, quality oak and gentle acidity. Great drinking now. ($40 from the Winery).

Crittenden Estate – Pinot Noir – The Zumma – 2013 (18). Powerful, high toned fruit on the nose. The palate has dense fruit, with souring cherry and satsuma plum overtones. Slightly chewy tannins add textural oak adds interest. A serious wine that is drinking very well now, but will cellar for at least 5 years. ($57 from the Winery).

* Images courtesy of the Crittenden Estate Website:

Felton Road 2014 Vintage

Felton Road 2014 Vintage

Barry Weinman: 20th September 2015Cornish Point 2014

Felton Road Winery is one of the oldest wineries in Central Otago. The first vines were planted in 1992, and the first wines produced in 1997. Amazingly, Blair Walters has been the winemaker for every one of those vintages, meaning that 2014 is his eighteenth vintage at the winery.

The winery is located in Bannockburn, a is a (slightly) warmer sub-region of the otherwise cool Central Otago region. Sitting in an inland basin, Bannockburn has warmer days, yet cooler nights.

The winery has 32 hectares of vines spread across four vineyards, three of which are currently in production. The region is surprisingly dry, with annual rainfall of approximately 350mm/year. The rain is spread over all 12 months of the calendar, ensuring excellent vine health.

The winery is certified bio-dynamic, though no fuss is made about this. Blair suggests that it helps in their quest to accurately express a sense of place. Production currently sits at around 12,000 cases.

The team at Felton Road suggest that 2014 may well be their best vintage ever! To complement these, we also tasted a five wine vertical of the Chardonnay and the Cornish Point Pinot Noir.

This tasting coincided with the launch of the new Reidel “Central Otago” Pinot Noir glass, and these were used to great effect. (I look forward to comparing them to the “Chianti” glass, which remains my benchmark all-purpose glass).

Conclusion: Be it the Chardonnay or any of the Pinot Noirs, the wines of Felton Road set the benchmark for Central Otago.

A special thanks to Red and White for hosting this tasting. As the wines were not served in a blind line-up, my points are for illustrative purposes only.

Reviewed – 2014 Vintage

Felton Road – Chardonnay – 2014 (18). A delicate and creamy nose, courtesy of the barrel ferment and malo characters. With air, the pineapple, nectarine and grapefruit aromas build. The palate is defined by minerality and delicate spice. Almost Chablis-like, yet there is a core of ripe, elegant fruit that will build with time in the bottle. Long, fine and restrained, with excellent Bannnockburn 2014balance and mouth-feel. A saline-like tang to close.

The winemaking for the Felton Road Chardonnay has evolved over time. The 2014 only saw 10% new oak. Careful attention is paid to picking times, with the fruit picked relatively early. As a result, the wine went through 100% malolactic fermentation, yet retains lovely acid balance.

Felton Road – Pinot Noir – Bannockburn – 2014 (18.5). Lovely nose that has precise varietal characters over quite generous fruit. The palate is fine and lively, with minerality and spice over cherry-like fruit. Silky and supple, with texturing oak and slightly chewy tannins. The acidity adds drive to the finish. A precise wine that will benefit from a year or two in the cellar. A lovely drink.

A blend of three different vineyards, 4000 dozen made.

Felton Road – Pinot Noir – Cornish Point – 2014 (18.5+). Block 3_2014Feminine and perfumed, the nose is delicate and quite beautiful. Precise, ripe fruit on the palate that is both subtle and supple. There is a mineral character that presents texturally, with very fine fruit tannins and texturing oak adding grip on the very long finish. Builds depth and power with air, and there is serious structure. Give it 5 years.

Matured in 30% new oak, which was air-dried for three years, 1100 cases made.

Felton Road – Pinot Noir – Block 3 – 2014 (18.7). Vibrant fruit on the nose, with depth and obvious power to the fruit. Lovely fruit on the palate. Silky mouth-feel, the fruit builds and fans out with air like the proverbial peacock’s tail. Tremendous length and presence, though this is quite understated. A joy to drink now, but will build if you are patient.

From the oldest vines on the property and some of the oldest in Central Otago. 12 – 14 months in oak. No fining or filtration, indigenous yeast. Natural malo. 600 dozen produce.

Felton Road – Cornish Point Pinot Noir – 2009 – 2013

Felton Road – Pinot Noir – Cornish Point – 2013. (18). Lovely perfumed nose. Ripe, fresh cherry and red berry fruit over spice notes. The palate is rich and dense, with excellent mouth-feel and texture. Chewy tannins, mineral-like acidity to close. A lovely wine from a warmer year.

Bannockburn – Pinot Noir – Cornish Point – 2012 (18.6). Detailed, accurate and almost Burgundian. Complex earthy notes meld with the ripe fruit into a seductive, enticing nose. Fantastic mouth-feel and texture, the drying tannins complementing the fruit brilliantly. Depth, presence, power, yet supple and restrained. A great wine from a very good year.

Felton Road – Pinot Noir – Cornish Point – 2011 (17.5). There is an immediacy here that is attractive, but this lacks the depth and structure of the best. Good length, with the acid driving the finish. Drinking now with food. From a challenging year.

Felton Road – Pinot Noir – Cornish Point – 2010 (18.3 – 18.5). Relatively closed and restrained on both the nose and the palate. Precise and fine, with cherry and red berry fruit to the fore. The mouth-feel is a standout. Near seamless, with silky tannins and supple oak just holding the fruit in check. Really needs another 5 years to hit its straps. With air, this opens up. From a cooler year that proved to be very good.

Felton Road – Pinot Noir – Cornish Point – 2009 (18+). Lovely immediacy to the fruit on the nose. This reflects in the palate. Silky, textured and delicious, with slightly chewy tannins. The dense fruit on the palate is good to go now. A powerful wine from a cooler year.

Felton Road Chardonnay – 2009 – 2013

Blair takes a fairly hands-off approach to the Chardonnay, avoiding filtration where possible, due to the naturally stability of the wines. Whole bunch pressed, barrel fermented with wild yeast. They spend 12 months in up to 15 year old oak, with a small amount of battonage to add texture.

Felton Road – Chardonnay 2013. Lovely nose that has mineral and spice notes over nectarine and white peach. The palate is defined by taut acidity and supple, creamy texture. Drinking well now, but will open with time.

Felton Road – Chardonnay 2012. More complexity here, with an almost Burgundian feel. The nose has curry-leaf minerality over stone fruit notes. The palate is supple, rich and complete with excellent length and texture. An excellent wine that can be drunk any time over the next 5 years.

Felton Road – Chardonnay 2011. Has a presence that is very attractive. Stone fruit and spice, with a touch of smoke and flint to close. A complete wine that is drinking well now. Delicious!

Felton Road – Chardonnay 2010. Delicious. Complex, developed, chewy and textured, with just a hint of honey. A decent drink now.

Felton Road – Chardonnay 2009. Fine, supple, rich and textured, Powerful fruit and great length of flavours. A touch of viscosity adds to the mouth-feel. Drinking perfectly now.


Affordable Pinot Noir

Reviewed by Barry Weinman

30th July 2015

Affordable Pinot Noir

1266D0C0-88CA-4E37-B802-472BB561A2D5201A97F8-812F-4490-8EA7-7B6900989F9ANotoriously difficult to produce, Pinot Noir remains the Holy Grail for many winemakers and enthusiasts alike. At their best, Pinots possess an almost ethereal quality, fanning out and caressing all parts of the palate.

Finding good Pinot Noir is difficult enough. Finding affordable Pinot Noir that offers good drinking is a great challenge.

Whilst none of the wines below are exactly cheap, they do offer a lot of interest at their respective price points. The Singlefile is a joy to drink, with supple fruit and a silky mouth-feel.

The Villa Maria is notable for the way it builds in the glass and bottle over time. This was at its best 2 – 3 days after being opened.

In contrast, the St Mary’s offers an insight into how regional influences can impact on the flavour profile of the wine. This wine speaks of its Limestone Coast origins, with menthol and eucalypt characters. Not a classic Pinot, but a really interesting expression of terroir!


Singlefile – Pinot Noir – 2013 (18). Beautiful, precise, perfumed Pinot fruit characters. The palate is silky and textured, with delicate cherry fruit over pretty floral notes. Subtle oak adds depth. There is excellent mouth-feel, with an expansive palate. A joy to drink now, but the quality fruit will build in the bottle for a few years. A bargain (RRP $33).

Villa Maria – Pinot Noir – Cellar Selection – 2012 (17.8). Really pretty colour. Ripe cherry fruit characters with savoury complexity on the nose. The palate shows cherry and plum, with decent depth to the fruit. Gentle grip from the oak and tannins adds mouth-feel, whilst a hint of stalkiness adds structure and interest. With air, the fruit builds nicely, so a few years in the cellar will not hurt. (RRP $40).

St Mary’s – Pinot Noir – Limestone Coast – 2013 (17.4). Mint and eucalypt over dense, dark fruit, with decent power and intensity. The minty characters continue on a palate that is both intense and long. The fruit flavours linger and evolve for some time. Perhaps a touch of whole bunch fermentation, contributing to the rich fruit. More typical of the region than the grape, but an interesting wine ($35).

Negotiants Imported Wine Tasting – June 2015

Chateau Musar, New Zealand Pinot Noir, French Wines

12th July 2015

Reviewed by Barry Weinman

Here are my first impressions on a range of excellent wines imported by Negotiants. Part of the Yalumba group, Negotiants has the most extensive range of high quality wines in Australia, so products should be widely available (though they may need to be ordered in).

The two highlights for the tasting were the bracket of Pinot Noirs, and tasting though several wines from Chateau Musar with Ralph Hochar, the grandson of founder Gaston Hochar.

Situated in Lebanon, Chateaux Musar was founded in 1930, with the aim of producing fine wines in the tradition of Bordeaux. Gaston’s son Serge was named Decanter Magazine’s inaugural “Man of the Year” in 1984. This was in recognition of his remarkable achievement in producing wines through the Lebanon civil war.

The Bekaa Valley is now home to a number of vineyards and wineries, but Chateau Musar remains their most famous export.


Marc Bredif –Chenin Blanc – Brut – NV. Creamy, textural nose. The palate is rich and generous, with decent acidity to keep the fruit balanced, and there is good length. An interesting and worthwhile alternative to Champagne. Will take antipasto very well.

Pol Roger – Champagne – 2004. Complex nose, but not overtly influenced by lees. The fruit really shines here, with pinot richness adding depth. Long, this is a very subtle, fine wine.

Pol Roger – Champagne – Rose – 2004. This has the palest salmon colour. A touch more red fruits on the nose compared to the vintage. Fine and elegant, with zesty acidity, but the subtle complexity drives the finish. Sublime.

Domaine du Vieux Telegraph – Chateauneuf du Pape – la Crau – 2012. Supple, subtle red fruits on the nose, with complex mineral and spice notes. The palate is alive, with vibrant fruit leading into savoury, earthy notes. Very long and fine, with minerality and texture, a wine of real presence and style.

Chateau Musar – Rhone Blend – Hochar Pere Et Fils – 2008. Lighter, pale colour, tending towards brick red. Lovely fragrant fruit with spice and depth to the nose. The palate is savoury and complex. The fruit is subdued, allowing the gentle complex characters to shine. The acid drive adds length. Good now with hearty food, this is from a lighter year, and is made to drink earlier than the premium wine.

Chateau Musar – Cabernet Blend – 2007. Lighter colour reflecting the age and the style. There is serious power to the fruit, yet the wine comes across as elegant and refined, with great length and texture. Not mainstream, but a lovely drink. (33% new oak and is from a strong year).

Chateau Musar – Cabernet Blend – 2000. Quite Burundian. Feminine, floral, complex, with ripe, savoury, spicy fruit. The palate is remarkable for the way the fruit builds and gains depth. A savoury treat.

Pinot Noir

Nautilus – Pinot Noir – 2012. Nice balance of fruit and savoury complexity on the nose. The palate is fresh, with the structured fruit giving way to oak and fruit tannins on the close. Quite serious, but needs a year or two. From Marlborough.

Fromm – Pinot Noir – Clayvin Vineyard – 2013. I liked this a lot. Serious fruit with cherry and spices – clove and cardamom. The palate is fresh and light, with an almost ethereal character. Delicate, refined and very long, this is a delightful wine. Now – 5 years.

Grasshopper Rock – Pinot Noir – Earnscleugh Vineyard – 2012. Restrained and taut, yet with a core of vibrant fruit running through the palate. Quite savoury to close. A fine effort from Central Otago, without the fleshiness often seen from this region.

Valli – Pinot Noir – Gibston Vineyard – 2013. Dense ripe fruit, showing cherry, plum and spice, typical of Central Otago. The palate is dense, with earthy notes adding depth and interest. The long finish sees the tannins dry up the fruit somewhat, making this a good prospect for a few years in the cellar, or served with lamb now.

Two Paddocks – Pinot Noir – 2013. A complete wine from Central Otago that is a great drop now. Deceptive, as the intrinsic quality is easy to miss due to the ease of drinking. Who needs food?

Ata Rangi – Pinot Noir – 2013. Brilliant colour. The nose is complex, yet delicate and refined. The palate has vibrant fruit, with a cloak of oak and tannins. The souring, cherry-like acidity really cuts through on the finish, ensuring drive and focus. With excellent length and persistence, the fruit fans out on the close. A brilliant wine that can be drunk any time over the next 10 years.

Francois Feuillet – Pinot Noir – Chambole Musigny – 1er Cru – Les Sentiers. A lovely nose that combines savoury/spicy notes with supple fruit. The palate is bright and fresh, with menthol and hints of tar and aniseed.

Geantet-Pansiot – Pinot Noir – Gevery Chambertain – 1er Cru – Le Poissenot – 2010. Quite savoury at first, with meaty/earthy notes. That said, there is a core of ripe, powerful fruit that defines the wine. The palate is quite elegant, with the earthy/savoury minerality carrying the length of the palate. Very long, this is a fine wine indeed. Not cheap, but very good.

Dugat – Py – Pinot Noir – Gevery Chambertain – Ville Vignes – 2008. Concentrated fruit on the noseDepth provided by the complex earthy notes. Old vines really show their worth here. On the palate, the balance is excellent, though the fruit is actually quite muted, shut down by the structural components and savoury oak. Superb wine in the making, and remarkable quality for a village wine.