Tag Archives: Pinot Noir

Bannockburn – Current Release Pinot and Chardonnay

Reviewed: 3rd August 2013

Michael Glover, the winemaker at Bannockburn is a (self-proclaimed) very lucky man!  According to Michael, the quality of the fruit that comes from the Bannockburn vineyards is so exceptional, that it makes him look good.

I am the first to agree that the fruit that goes into the Bannockburn range is truly outstanding.  I am not so naive as to say, however, that the winemaker has not had a significant role in harnessing the quality fruit and transforming it in to a range of stunning wines.

One of the highlights of the tasting was to see the terroir of the vineyards expressed in each wine that we tried.  Michael is passionate about site expression and believes that this only happens when yields are very low.  I use the term terroir loosely, as for me, it is the intersection of the soil, the climate, the vines and, most importantly, the people who transform the grapes in to the finished product.

Michael’s fingerprints are all over these wines, but that is a very good thing.  There is a consistency across the entire range, where texture, complexity and depth are valued over power and where the winemaking inputs are supple and subtle.  Having said that, with the exception of sulphur, these wines are made without additions in the winery.

These are very high quality wines where the winemaking has allowed the fruit to truly express its sense of place, albeit in a very tight, age-worthy package.  Even the sauvignon blanc (a wine of great complexity) would benefit from three to five years in the cellar.

The two highlights of the tasting were both from the stellar 2010 vintage.  Both the “standard” chardonnay and the Stuart pinot noir are nothing short of spectacular.  The rest of the range is remarkably consistent and of very high quality.  In many ways my choices come down to personal preference, as these are all excellent wines.

Two caveats for the tasting:  Firstly, this was not a blind tasting and the winemaker was present.  Secondly, all the reds were sealed with natural cork.


Bannockburn – Sauvignon Blanc – 2012 (17.7).  This wine has a very complex, worked and powerful nose, with spice, struck-match and flint-like minerality.  The palate is dense and powerful, though surprisingly closed and restrained at present.  Lemony, long and fine, I would like to see this again in a year or two, as it is sure to age well for 5+ years.  100% barrel ferment in puncheons.  2/3 French, 1/3 Italian (made from acacia rather than oak).  The vines are 25 years old and have low yields (2kg/vine).  Aims to be uniquely Bannockburn!
(After 3 days on the tasting bench, this developed remarkably floral fruit aromas).

Bannockburn – Chardonnay – 2010 (18.5+).  Beautiful nose that stands out for its elegance and finesse, with hints of almond meal.  There is a delicate minerality running through both the nose and palate.  There is crisp stonefruit, with layers of creamy oak and delicate floral notes on the palate.  Very long, though this is restrained and a touch linear now.  Superb balance between the restrained fruit and quality oak.  With near seamless palate transition, this is a spectacular wine!  From 30-year-old vines, the wine spends 2 years on lees and has 100% malo-lactic fermentation.  It took 24 hours on the tasting bench for it to open up and show its best, but the result was memorable!

Bannockburn – Chardonnay – S R H – 2009 (18).  Richer and more developed, but yet retains the elegance of the standard release.  Fine and restrained, with seamless oak and very precise, focused acidity to close.  Mouth-feel and texture the key here.  Whilst I marginally preferred the focus and poise of the 2010 “standard” release, this is a remarkably fine wine.  Wait 5 years to start drinking.  ($77, only 100 cases made).

Bannockburn – Pinot Noir – 2009 (17.8).  Chewy, dense, textured, long, sappy and savoury.  This wine is not about primary fruit, it is about the textural experience.  There is, however lovely fruit underneath this, with spicy, dark cherry notes.  The silky finish brings it all together, but it needs years for the fruit to emerge from its cocoon.  Lovers of structured Burgundy will get a kick out of this wine.

The similarities to Nuit St George were remarkable, to the point that I had to open a bottle of 1er Cru Burgundy as a comparison.  The similarities were marked, though there was a touch more ripeness to the fruit of this wine.  2009 was a low yielding, tannic vintage, and the wine had 100% whole bunch fermentation.  12.5% alc. $53 rrp.

Bannockburn – Pinot Noir – Stuart – 2010 (18.5+).  In contrast to the structure of the 2009 pinot, this wine is seductive and totally gorgeous.  Initially, this is lighter in structure, while the fruit is more floral.  This is immediately approachable, yet has elegance, length and persistence.  The perfume flows from the palate back into the nose, boosting the enjoyment further.  Silky and very fine, though the structure and power really builds with time in the glass.

A delightful wine now or in five + years.  The ethereal notes that this wine offered up as it sat in the glass harked to the great wines from Chambolle Musigny.  (Named after the founder Stuart R Hooper.  $70rrp and a bargain).

Bannockburn – Pinot Noir – Serre – 2008 (18.5).  Gorgeous fruit on both the nose and palate, though this is cloaked in a shroud of restraint.  On the palate there is cherry, spice and a wonderful silky mouth-feel.  The long and savoury finish cries out for food.  Again, this is near seamless.  Amazing intensity with the proverbial peacock’s tail finish (the fruit really fans out and evolves, providing flavour and texture to the entire palate).

Using the comparisons to Burgundy again, this is more in the mould of Vosne Romanee.  The fruit for this wine comes from a separate, close-planted vineyard.  (9000 vines per hectare, average yield 500gm of fruit per vine, but can be as low as 250gm/vine).  $91rrp.


Pinot Noir – New Release

Pinot Noir – New Release

Reviewed: 23rd June 2013

A couple of interesting pinots from Dalrymple came in during the week, so I put together a small bracket to see how they came up. Dalrymple is a Tasmanian winery and the fruit for all three wines came from the Coal River region. The quality across the range was very high, with the wines offering an attractive blend of fruit and spice.

For me, the standard wine represents the best value ($35). There is a noticeable increase in sophistication with the Cottage Block ($45) and the Block CV90 ($55), but this comes at the expense of approachability today. Try all three and see for yourself.


Dalrymple – Pinot Noir – Cottage Block – 2011 (18+). Pretty, floral fruit on the nose. The palate is floral, but there is real persistence to the fruit and a surprising degree of depth. This is a very smart wine, with the cherry and spice characters from the fruit lingering for a very long time. Tannins and oak are very fine and complement the fruit well. A very finely crafted wine.

Dalrymple – Pinot Noir – Block CV90 – 2011 (18/18.5). A touch closed and reductive to start, but this wine has quality fruit and it has been deftly handled. The finish is slightly chewy at first, but with air, it builds depth and the fruit becomes more vibrant in the glass. The fine tannins suppress the finish slightly, so give this some air or a few years in the bottle.

Squitchy Lane – Pinot Noir – 2010 (18). The nose on this is very classy, showing a lovely blend of ripe fruits and more savoury characters. The palate is quite firm, with souring acid that sets this up well for food. Long and supple, this is the most food-friendly pinot here. The next day, this wine really hit its straps, showing depth and possessing a generosity of fruit that made it a joy to drink with a hearty seafood stew.

Dalrymple – Pinot Noir – 2011 (17.8). Pristine and focused fruit on the nose. The palate is supple, though quite linear at present. There is good depth to the fruit and the finish is very silky. The winemakers have worked very well with the fruit weight, as the oak is of high quality and sits behind the fruit. A very good Australian pinot that drinks well now.


Beaune and Beyond

Hosted by Phillip Rich at Lamont’s in Cottesloe

Reviewed: 3rd June 2013

I must admit that I had reservations about attending this tasting as I had spent the day working in Sydney and had flown in just in time to attend. The thought of a hot shower and warm bed was very appealing. I am so glad that I did attend though as it was a fantastic evening.

Phillip Rich was in town to showcase a range of wines that he imports in to Australia. Two things made the night so enjoyable. Firstly, the wines ranged from very good to spectacular. The red Burgundies from Hudelot Noellat in particular were nothing short of spectacular.

The other factor that made the night so enjoyable was our host. Phillip is a warm and engaging speaker. He shared his great knowledge with us in such a way that it felt like catching up with an old friend.

If you get the chance to attend one of his tastings in the future, jump at it. I am sure you will enjoy the experience as much as I did.

NB. This tasting comes with the usual caveats. It was not a blind tasting (and I had a lot of fun), so please use my points as a guide only. Wines are available in limited quantities from Lamont’s and other select independent retailers.

  • Tasted:        16
  • Reviewed:   11


Pierre Peters – Champagne – Chetillons – 2005 (18 – 18.5). A very impressive wine that balances delicate floral notes with complex autolysis characters (brioche, bread dough etc.). The palate is very subtle, showing balance and poise. Youthful and quite lean, this needs time in the bottle to really open up.  To get the most out of this wine now, try letting it warm up in the glass a little as this lets the pristine chardonnay fruit really shine.

Copain – Chardonnay – Tous Ensemble – 2011 (17 – 17.5). Delicate lemony fruit that is quite taut and linear at first. An elegant, modern style that opens up to show grapefruit and nectarine characters. The finish is elegant and quite seamless. Don’t serve to cold.

Copain – Chardonnay – Laureles – 2011 (17.5 – 18). Compared to the Tous Ensemble, there is a real step up in richness here. There is still the grapefruit and citrus notes, however the mouth-feel and texture are the real highlights. Finishes with lemon pith and precise minerals. A lovely drink.

Copain – Pinot Noir – Tous Ensemble – 2010 (17.5+). A lighter hue here. Lovely red fruits to the fore, with red cherries and lifted perfume. The palate is very pretty and has good texture and structure. Good length and intensity on the finish rounds out the package. A wine to enjoy now and, as such, represents quite good value

Copain – Pinot Noir – Kiser En Haut  – 2010 (18+). This wine still has the lovely perfume of the Tous Ensemble, though there is more depth and structure to the fruit and the mouth-feel is more textural. Whilst this is a lighter style compared to a NZ pinot, there is superb intensity, density and an elegant structure to the palate. A balanced and youthful wine that has intrinsic fruit power and is very age-worthy.

Copain – Pinot Noir – Kiser En Bas  – 2010 (18 – 18.5). This is a compelling wine that blends many of the characteristics of the previous two wines from Copain. Both the nose and palate display lovely perfumed fruit, silky mouth-feel, cherry fruit notes and fine oak handling/ lovely souring acid. A wine that balances fruit and structure expertly. A wine that can be drunk now or in 5 years.

Felton Road – Pinot Noir – Cornish Point – 2010 (18.5). Gorgeous nose that has sweet fruit that is balanced by complex cherry and spice aromas.  Real density and serious fruit weight is apparent on the palate. The oak is evident now, but complements the fruit very well. A delicious wine that offers a degree of generosity that only the new world seems to achieve. Put in to the tasting as a yardstick, and very nearly stole the show.

Hudelot Noëllat – Pinot Noir – Vosne Romanee – 2011 (18). In the glass, this wine has a lovely, vibrant colour. The nose is dense, earthy and weighty, yet retains a lovely perfumed character. The palate is supple, fragrant and spicy, the depth of the fruit evident in the texture and mouth-feel. With excellent length and wonderful balance, this wine actually represents good value at around $90!

Hudelot Noëllat – Pinot Noir – Beaumonts – 1er Cru – 2011(18.5+). This has a classic Burgundian nose that, like the Vosne, has fragrant, perfumed characters sitting atop the dense fruit. Opens up to show sappy sour cherry, spice and earthy notes. The palate here is spectacular, with superb fruit that is balanced, very long and near seamless. The structured nature of the finish suggests that this should continue to develop well in the bottle. Brilliant wine.

Hudelot Noëllat – Pinot Noir – Clos de Vougeot – Grand Cru – 2011 (18.7). Even more density to the colour here and the fruit is much more closed than the Les Beaumonts. Whilst this is fresh and supple, with almost new world richness to the fruit, the wine is dense, structured, powerful and tannic. A truly great wine, but one that needs 5 – 10 years in the cellar to start to express itself.


Ostler – Current Release

Reviewed: 25th April 2013

I was pleased to have the opportunity to meet with Jim Jerram from Ostler recently to try their current range of wines as well as several older Caroline’s pinot noirs.

Located in the cooler Northern Otago sub-district of Waitaki Valley,  the pinot vineyard was first planted in 2002. The relatively thin top soil, with limestone substrate was the key attraction to the producers when they purchased the land for the vineyard.

The pick of the wines was the 2010 Caroline’s pinot. A superb wine that is worthy of time in the cellar. The bargain though, and the one that I will recommend the strongest is the Blue House Vines pinot from 2011. Not overly complicated, but bright and delicious.


Ostler – Riesling – 2011 (17 – 17.5). Floral fruit on the nose, with subtle spice. The palate is textured and there is a degree of phenolic richness. Whilst there is noticeable sweetness, the excellent length and acid on the finish sets this apart, leaving the palate relatively dry to close. An interesting alternative to Australian rieslings. This has 10.6 g/l of residual sugar and is the 1st vintage from this vineyard (planted in 2008)

Ostler – Pinot Gris – Audrey’s – 2011 (17). Lovely floral notes here. This is an amalgam of Turkish delight, spice and phenolic texture. Quite a chewy finish adds interest, but the finish is a touch closed at first. The mid-palate is viscous and textured and this opens and develops richness in the glass. There is good acidity to close. A portion of this wine ferments in old oak.

Ostler – Pinot Noir – Blue House Vines – 2011 (17). Lighter hue than the other pinots tasted here. Soft, fresh and vibrant, this has attractive, albeit uncomplicated fruit aromas. The fresh cherry fruit is the key feature on the palate, though there is enough structure and souring acidity to make this quite delicious. This is an early drinking style that will work really well with food now.

Ostler – Pinot Noir – Caroline’s – 2010 (18+). More density to the fruit compared to the Blue House Vines. The nose is closed, but hints at potential. The palate is dense, structured, powerful, and chewy. The tannins and oak are present, but add texture and complexity rather than overt flavours. With air, this opens to show sweet red fruits and the structure really builds. Whilst this is a wine that needs time to show its best, the balance is spot on. The wine has new world fruit, but is not as fleshy as many Central Otago wines.

Ostler – Pinot Noir – Caroline’s – 2008 (17.5). Typical of the style, but from a cooler year. Perfumed, spiced, floral, red fruits on display. In the mouth, this is silky and supple, developing texture and body on the mid-palate. Lovely texture and mouth-feel, this is very good drinking now, but also has the potential to develop more texture and complexity. Fined and filtered which is not normal for the producer.

Ostler – Pinot Noir – Caroline’s – 2006 (17.5). Very seductive nose! Silky and supple, with masses of red fruit on the palate. Textured and soft, the dusty tannins add to the long, fine, spicy finish. Excellent persistence. Very impressive given the age of the vines.

Burgundy 2008

Boot-Full of Wine

Tasting notes from Italy (and beyond)

March 2011

One of the most important events on the calendar of the Institute of Masters of Wine is the Annual Burgundy tasting. This year, the 2008 vintage was featured, and the tasting was organised in association with Les Domaines Familiaux de Tradition. I was lucky enough to be able to attend.

2008 was a difficult year in Burgundy, and has been christened “the miracle vintage”. The miracle to which they refer is the burst of sunshine the region experienced, accompanied by fresh (and, importantly, drying) northerly winds from the second week of September to the beginning of October.

The cool and humid start to spring was a harbinger of things to come. The whole growing season was wet and cool, with the crop beset by coulure climatique (physiological failure of fruit set) and millerandage (variation in berry size). 2007 was also a cool and wet vintage, but by the end of June, the 2008 vintage was further than three weeks behind where the 2007 grapes were at the same time.

Rot and mildew were a constant threat (those growing organically or biodynamically were particularly challenged), and called for attentive vineyard management. The period of sunshine helped greatly to keep these maladies at bay in the weeks before harvest, but though the sun shone, it was cool, especially at night. Thus the wind concentrated the sugar in the grapes, but full physiological ripeness was difficult to achieve.

The other key to producing good wines in this vintage (other than obsessional vineyard practices) was strict and often laborious sorting. I have heard that some producers rejected up to 40% of their fruit, giving yields as low as 16hl/ha.

As a result, I went to the tasting expecting that acidity levels would be very high (they were – in fact malolactic fermentation took ages to be completed), and that some wines (both red and white) would be a bit lean (indeed some were).

My overall impression was that whites fared better than reds, and that the Cotes de Nuits shaded the Cotes de Beaune (though I enjoyed several of the wines from Corton). I will confess that I am, as Michael Schuster puts it, one who likes my white Burgundy “taut, refreshing, aromatically complex and minerally”. There were no fat white Burgundies here!

But this vintage (though some would argue, every vintage) was more about the producer than the provenance of the wine. Those producers who were fastidious in both the vineyard practices and in their sorting were able to do great things. Below I will highlight a few producers whose wines I thoroughly enjoyed.


Chassagne-Montrachet – Les Chenevottes – 1er Cru (White). Lean and tight, rhubarb and citrus on the nose, good length and depth of palate. 17.5 pts

Beaune – Clos des Féves – 1er Cru (red). Wonderfully complex and balanced, amalgam of fruit and secondary flavours, silky tannins. 18.5 pts

Savigny-lés-Beaune – La Dominode – 1er Cru (red). Bright red translucence, very expressive nose, fruit and savoury elements, elegant and balanced. 18.5 pts


Chambolle Musigny (red). Sulphurous initially, which blew off. A thoroughly well made wine – each element of fruit, tannin and acid playing a part, but not individually intrusive. 17 pts

Morey-Saint-Denis – Clos de la Bussiére – 1er Cru (red). Lifted nose of sweet strawberries and cherries. A leanness to the palate but fruit flavours not unripe. 17 pts

Bonnes-Mares – Grand Cru – (red). When one tastes wines like this one realizes why people just go crazy about red Burgundy. This was a near perfect expression of pinot noir – cherry fruit, silky tannins, austere but with a rustic edge. Controlled power. 18.5 pts


Corton-Charlemagne – Grand Cru (white). Full, rich and powerful, with layers of complexity – palate variegated but integrated. Effects of battonage, MLF and oak evident, good acidity, and very persistent length. 18 pts

Corton – Grand Cru (red). Intense fruit concentration, with ripe tannins. Far too young – has a great future ahead. 18 pts


Bienvenues Bâtard-Montrachet – Grand Cru (white). A bigger yet balanced expression, stylish, subtle and long palate. High quality oak. 17.5 pts

Gevrey-Chambertin – Les Cazetiers – 1er cru (red). Serious nose gives way to a serious palate – with fruit and savoury flavours, silky mouthfeel, good balance. 17.5 pts

Mazis-Chambertin – Grand Cru (red). After the initial sulphur has blown off, this is the proverbial peacock’s tail. Aromas keep building in the glass, flavours likewise on the palate. 18.5 pts


Chablis – Grand Cru – les Clos. Citrus minerality, austere and lean. Acid levels high. Evidence of oak and malo (not atypical for Grand Cru Chablis) 17.75

Beaune – Clos des Mouches Blanc – 1er Cru (white). Depth to olour and flavour. Wet stone and lychee notes. Elegant mouthfeel. 17.5 pts

Grands Echézeaux – Grand Cru (red). Depth to aroma and palate, cherry and even soy. Again, far too young, (and in this case, a bit cold also – new bottle recently emerged from the cellar and opened ~12 deg C. Showed better when warmed.) 18 pts


Vosne-Romanée – Aux Malconsorts – 1er Cru (red). Hints of coffee on the nose (probably from oak). No lack of phenolic ripeness here – the particular mingling of fruit and tannins and acid suggest long aging potential. 18.5 pts


Latriciéres-Chambertin – Grand Cru (red). Layers of complexity, luscious and classically expressive. 18.5 pts

Ciao for now!

Brendan Jansen

** Chanson is not part of Les Domaines Familiaux de Tradition but is an Institute sponsor

Burgundy Masterclass – Hosted by Philip Rich

Reviewed 28 August 2011


Dr Brendan Jansen

Philip Rich is a specialist wine importer and highly knowledgeable wine columnist with the Australian Financial Review. So when news of this tasting masterclass reached me, I was keen to attend.

Philip is indeed a European, and Burgundian in particular, wine aficionado. In the tasting he presented three brackets of Burgundy (2 of white, and 1 of red, all from the 2009 vintage) and a bracket of Barolos from the 2007 vintage in Piedmont, Italy (an appropriate accompaniment to Burgundy, as he described Piedmont as the Burgundy of Italy).

Here is a list of the wines:

Bracket 1 (White)

  • Jean-Marc Pillot – Chassagne Montrachet – 2009
  • Jean-Marc Pillot – Chassagne Montrachet – Baudines – 2009
  • Jean-Marc Pillot – Chassagne Montrachet – Vergers – 2009
  • Jean-Marc Pillot – Chassagne Montrachet – Morgeots – 2009

Bracket 2 (White)

  • Henri Boillot – Bourgogne Blanc – 2009
  • Henri Boillot – Meursault – 2009
  • Henri Boillot – Meursault – Charmes – 2009
  • Henri Boillot – Corton Charlemagne – 2009

Bracket 3 (Red)

  • Hudelot Noellat – Bourgogne – Rouge – 2009
  • Hudelot Noellat – Chambolle Musigny – 2009
  • Hudelot Noellat – Nuits St Georges – Murgers – 2009
  • Hudelot Noellat – Clos de Vougeot – 2009

Bracket 4 (Barolo)

  • Mauro Veglio – Barolo – DOCG – 2007
  • Mauro Veglio – Barolo – Arborina – DOCG – 2007
  • Mauro Veglio – Barolo – Castelletto – DOCG – 2007
  • Mauro Veglio – Barolo – Rocche dell’ Annunziata – DOCG – 2007

Without going into detailed tasting notes of each wine, I will leave you with my general impressions of the tasting, and highlight a couple of the wines which were particularly impressive, for quality and/or value for money.

Firstly, the rise in quality as we moved from Village to Premier Cru to Grand Cru was quite apparent, manifest especially by both greater palate persistence and intensity.

Secondly, the whites in particular were all in a linear, more angular style. I for one prefer my white Burgundy in this style – no excessive oaking or buttery malolactic and leesy characters. In fact the 2 Meursault wines, though with more sinew and body than the Chassagne Montrachets, were nowhere near the plump examples I have tasted before, and I may have found it difficult to pick them as Meursaults in a blind line-up. Though partly a feature of the 2009 vintage, I suspect Philip has sourced wines with a more slender and elegant expression of white Burgundy – for which I am personally grateful!

My favourite of the first bracket was the Baudines (18 pts), which had a lovely texture and mouthfeel to accompany its superb acid. In the second bracket, the Corton Charlemegne (18.5 pts), though still young and closed, spoke of richness and balance on the palate, guaranteeing it a long life ahead.

Of the Red Burgundies, the Hudelot Chambolle Musigny (17.25 pts) displayed more funky, feral and undergrowth characters than the other wines – which I usually enjoy, but in this case possibly indicated some premature aging – it just tasted older than it should. The Nuits St Georges Murgers (18.25 pts) was cleaner and “purer’ with tight tannic structure and backbone. The Clos Vougeot was very young, and its scents had to be coaxed from within the glass. Nonetheless the palate already shows amazing depth, length, and complexity (including cherry fruit, liquorice and clove) (18.75 pts)

The Barolos, bar the first bottle (which I thought had too much volatility to represent a non-faulty bottle), were exemplars of the tar and roses/violets and ripe tannins of the appellation. The fourth (Roche dell’Annunziata – 18.5 pts) was my favourite, and even had some Barbaresco-esque spicy complexity.

To end, a special mention of the Vilmart Champagne, described by Tom Stevenson MW as being the ‘greatest grower Champagne I know’, which was served at he beginning of the tasting. This was a superb, perfumed, elegant and complete NV Champagne, and set the tone for a great tasting! (18.5 pts)

Ciao for now!

Brendan Jansen

Editors Note

Xavier Bizot’s Selection

3 August 2011

Xavier Bizot has an illustrious pedigree when it comes to wine. His family owns Bollinger, and his father-in-law is Brian Croser of Petaluma fame.

Xavier was at Lamont’s in Cottesloe to showcase a cross-section of the wines that he distributes in Australia. The range consists of imported wines and the wines made by Brian Croser under the Tapanappa label. This is an idiosyncratic range, but there is an obvious focus on producing stylish, refined wines from carefully selected sites.

Please note that the majority (I think all) of the wines were sealed with a cork. Also, this was not a blind tasting, so my points are only preliminary.

A special thanks to John Jens and the team at Lamont’s. Not only was the function superbly run, it delivered extraordinary value!


Domaine Marcel Deiss – Pinot Blanc – 2009 (17.5). Dry and austere on the nose, though there are obvious varietal and regional characters. Think slate and a touch of mineral. There are floral hints on the palate, but this is all about texture. Rich, round, viscous and even a touch oily. The length is a standout, aided by a touch of residual sugar to flesh out the palate. Sat well alongside some scallops.

Domaine Marcel Deiss – Premier Cru – Burg – Single Vineyard – 2003 (17-18). Aromatic, even Sauternes like aromas. Powerful fruit notes with lychees, tropical fruits and a touch of rose. The palate is very textured and viscous, without the oiliness of the pinot blanc. This is a high impact, turbocharged wine of some charm. The botrytis component turns the dial up to 11! A wine to taste on its own perhaps. The wines from Deiss focus on the vineyard perhaps more than the grapevine. They are using numerous clones of the various grapes, but also blending different varieties (13 in this case) when producing their single vineyard wines.

Tapanappa – Chardonnay – Tiers Vineyard – 2008 (18+). Tight, austere and elegant. There is creamy fruit on the nose, with lees and very fine oak highlights. Excellent palate that is expansive yet full of nervous energy. This is modern and very tight. The palate has some pineapple, melon and lemon fruit characters. Fine and elegant, with a tangy finish courtesy of the lemony acid.

Tapanappa – Chardonnay – Tiers Vineyard – 2007 (17-18). Quite a different style to the 2008. The fruit was initially very subdued, with the medium toast oak providing the dominant flavours and aromas. This really opened up in the glass displaying powerful fruit that soaked up the oak. Very powerful and complex. Most people preferred this wine, though I would rather drink the 2008.

Chateau Pierre Bise – Cabernet Franc/Merlot – Anjou Villages – Sur Schistes – 2009 (17). Floral fruit, though the structural components are never far away. Savoury, sappy, long and juicy, this is an interesting wine that has seen no oak. From the Loire.

Ceretto – Barolo DOCG – Zonchera – 2007 (18+). This is a lovely wine. Cherry and savoury notes that are fine and balanced. The palate has plenty of tar, leather and spice. The mouth-feel is tight and restrained due to the (very fine and supple) tannins. The finish is somewhat grippy right now, but the balance is spot on. The length of the finish is a feature. Give it 5 – 10 years to open up a little.

Tapanappa – Merlot – Whalebone Vineyard – 2003 (17 – 17.5). Perfumed nose redolent of violets. The palate has cedar, plum and floral notes. The tannins are still remarkably firm, though they are supple enough to make this a good drink. Needs years more to show its best.

Tapanappa – Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz – Whalebone Vineyard – 2006 (17 – 18). I struggled to understand this wine at first as it was very closed and tight. The sweet, ripe fruit really builds and the textured finish is fine and savoury, with a souring finish. Points awarded for potential.

Tapanappa – Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz – Whalebone Vineyard – 2004 (18+). This wine had to compete with the aromas of a superb Wagyu steak. The fruit shows chocolate, leather and spice, with tight knit oak in support. This has lovely mouth-feel and excellent length. It is supple, textured and quite delicious. A quality wine!

Francois Lumpp – Givry AOC – Pied de Clou – 2009 (17). Quite shy, with delicate fruit. This has been well made. Sympathetic winemaking allows the fruit to shine, as the oak is only secondary and the tannins are nicely polished. Good short term drinking.

Domaine du Clos de Tart – Pinot Noir – 2008 (NR). How do you point a wine that is so unique. From a single monopole vineyard, Clos du Tart is the name of the winery, the vineyard AND the appellation. Created in the 12th century, the vineyard has only had three owners in its history. Destined to live for many years, this is hard to appraise now as the wine is very closed… Herbal, savoury and a touch stalky, this is tight, focused and very long. Spicy notes (clove and cinnamon) dominate the palate. The tannins impart a talcum powder like effect on the finish.

Chateau Pierre Bise – Chenin Blanc – Coteaux du Layon – Rouannieres – 2009 (17.7+). Fresh and vibrant nose with floral soap/talc aromas. The palate is intensely sweet and concentrated. The palate is viscous, rich and oily, with ground almond and cashew nut textural components. There is 220grams/litre of residual sugar, though the refreshing acidity prevents this from getting too cloying in the mouth. Delicious.

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir

Reviewed: 25 July 2011

A strong line up of chardonnay and pinot noir has resulted in a number of worthwhile wines. The highlight for me was the Yerring Station pinot, a wine that is full of poise. At $38 it is not cheap, but it is worth a try. (Dan Murphy have it online for $32).

The wines from Robert Oatley are also worth commenting on. Both displayed generosity to the quality fruit and skilled winemaking. These are wines that can be consumed in the short term with pleasure. At around $25, they represent value.


Fraser Gallop – Chardonnay – Wilyabrup – 2010 (18). Forward, floral fruit with a hint of citrus and melon. This is a tighter style compared to the Oatley. It is long and refined, with a drying finish. Quality fruit and oak, with serious length. Avoid drinking now as this needs 3 – 5 years to show its best.

Robert Oatley – Chardonnay – Craigmoor AC1 Vineyard – 2009 (17.8). Lovely lemony fruit with subtle barrel ferment and lees effects. Creamy and seductive, the palate matches the nose, with flint and minerals to the fore on the (very long) finish. The charry oak is a touch dominant, but should settle.

Windows Estate – Chardonnay – Single Vineyard – 2010 (17.5). Very creamy, with well integrated winemaking inputs. Opens with peach and pineapple fruit, with a touch of mineral and curry leaf to add interest. The quality fruit has real length of flavour. Needs time to show its best. (Another really smart wine from this producer).

Devils Lair – Chardonnay – Fifth Leg – Crisp – 2010 (16.8). Floral nose with tropical fruits. Zesty and racy palate that hints at its chardonnay origins, but in a fresh and vibrant package. An excellent alternative to sauvignon blanc.

Yering Station – Pinot Noir – Yarra Valley – 2010 (18). More angular and precise nose. Beautifully weighted fruit that is more to do with sappy/savoury notes than bright fruit. The palate has excellent structure and mouth-feel, while the tannins are fine. Needs a few years to hit its straps, as this blossomed after sitting on the tasting bench for a couple of days. A very smart wine.

Robert Oatley – Pinot Noir – Mornington Peninsula – 2010 (17.6). Succulent, sweet and juicy fruit. This is at the ripe end of cherry, hinting at plum. There is also some tar, combined with earthy notes. The palate has more of the same in a soft and approachable style. Silky tannins and a touch of oak make for good early drinking. Good buying if you see it around $25.

Chard Farm – Pinot Noir – River Run – 2008 (17.5). Cherry fruit that is tight and focused. A complex wine. The fruit on the palate has excellent depth and balance. There is a slight astringency running through the palate and the tannins are fine and the oak supple. This is a powerful wine that has yet to reveal itself fully. Interestingly, this was preferred to its more expensive siblings in this tasting.

New Release Imports

Reviewed: 30 January 2013

An interesting point came up for discussion during the tasting came when one panellist berated me for not giving the white Burgundies higher points. He pointed out that the wines had only recently landed and will undoubtedly be better in a month or two’s time when they have settled.

The problem with this view is that I can only assess what is in my glass and compare that to my personal frame of reference. Perhaps my points are a little low, but this is better than having them too high.

Another point was made in regards to the points that are given to Australian wines. It was suggested that these wines were significantly better than many Australian wines and therefore should get higher points. I would counter with the view that the wines are different. A $30 Australian chardonnay scoring 17.5pts is, in my mind at least, the equal of a Burgundy scoring 17.5pts. That the wines are stylistically different does not diminish my enjoyment for both.

Indeed, I would suggest that for the average consumer who does not try many French wines, the Australian wine will be more enjoyable. We are naturally influenced by our past experiences and what we are familiar with.

This is the beauty of wine; it can be all things to all people!

A fascinating tasting of high quality wines.

White Burgundy

Domaine Jean Monnier & Fils – Chardonnay – Puligny Montrachet – 2008 (17.8). Restrained and tight, this is a lovely wine with really potential. There are hints of pineapple, grapefruit and pineapple on the nose in quite a modern style. Very long, slightly viscous, yet not cloying, with a lovely minerality to the fruit on the palate. The acid and oak are well judged and the oak is high quality.

Thiery et Pascale Matrot – Chardonnay – 1er Cru – Meursault-Charmes – 2010 (17.8). Minerals and curry leaf over peach, nectarine, cashew nut and citrus fruit characters. The palate matches the nose perfectly, with intense, yet refined fruit matched to high quality oak. Seamless and creamy, the finish is a treat.

Thiery et Pascale Matrot – Chardonnay – Meursault – La Barre – 2010 (17.7). Restrained on the nose compared to the Puligny. This is an elegant wine of some charm. The fruit is remarkably long and is carried by grapefruit like acidity. The length here is outstanding as is the mouth-feel and texture. The fruit builds and evolves and there are minerals and nutty fruit on the finish. A few years would only help this wine.

Thiery et Pascale Matrot – Chardonnay – 1er Cru – Puligny Montrachet – Les Chalumeaux – 2010 (17.5+). Lean and angular, this is a wine for another day. It really needs time to fill out and expand on both the nose and the palate. Perhaps from a cooler year, the structure and acidity are excellent. In terms of descriptors, the wine shows lemony fruit and acid, stonefruit, grapefruit, melon and mealy complexity.

Thiery et Pascale Matrot – Chardonnay – Puligny Montrachet – 2008 (17.5+). Quite forward fruit on the nose combined with strong minerality, curry leaf and almond meal. The palate is very rich and round, showing more of the mineral characters, lemon zest, almond meal and complex, struck match and flint highlights. Not for the faint hearted, this is a rich white Burgundy.

Domaine Jean Monnier & Fils – Chardonnay – 1er Cru – Meursault – Genevrieres – 2010 (17.5) Creamy fruit on the nose, with minerals and spice. Somewhat developed and honeyed, but the acid is still fresh and keeps the palate alive. Long and succulent, this is a good wine that opens and evolves. There is a touch of vanillin oak to close. A Subtle, yet abundant wine with excellent length.

Assorted Red Wines

Emilie Geantet – Pinot Noir – Gevrey-Chambertin – 1er Cru – Cherbaudes – 2010 (17.8+). More density here. Powerful, spicy fruit with hints of licorice, clove and even star anise. Long and savoury, this is a step up in terms of fruit density and quality. Textured, long and almost chewy, this is a quality wine. Needs time.

Emilie Geantet – Pinot Noir – Fixin – 2010 (17.8). Lovely nose showing ripe, fragrant fruit. The palate is more about structure and spice than ripe fruit. There is excellent length and depth to the quality fruit and the texture really fleshes out with air. An excellent Fixin from a producer to watch out for.

Domaine Thenard – Pinot Noir – 1er Cru – Givry – Clos Saint Pierre 2009 (17.3). Initially tight and restrained, this opens to show perfumed fruit on the nose and palate, with spice, cherry and plum over cedar. The fruit is not overly dense, but it is ripe and the wine is well made.

Domaine Des Combiers – Gamay – Fleurie – La Cadole – 2011 (17 – 17.5). Fragrant and lively fruit on the nose, with red berries and gentle spice. The palate is fresh, light, succulent and juicy. There are savoury hints to close on an easy drinking and quite delicious red wine. This may have seen some carbonic maceration to add more life to the fruit.

Domaine La Cabotte – Cotes du Rhone – 2008 (17). Clean and fresh, with dense dark fruits. Think licorice, spice, cinnamon and cherry. The palate is textured and spicy , with little oak influence, but really deap tasting fruit. Smart wine.

Chardonnay, Pinot and Rose

New Release

Reviewed: 15 February 2012

Is it just me or are wineries releasing their wines earlier and earlier? Many of the wines reviewed here need a year or two to show their best. If you are drinking them young, don’t serve them too cold and give them time in the glass to open up.

There were also a few good value pinot noirs.



Chene Bleu – Grenache/Shiraz – Rose – 2009 (16.5). Lovely pale salmon colour. Savoury, dry and refreshing, this has nice mouth-feel and texture. Good length and a touch of oiliness on the finish adds interest. This is a smart wine that will suit antipasto well.

Poudriere – Rose – Bastide Du Claux – 2010 (16.9). Very pale colour to what is a very pretty wine. Dry and refreshing, this has some lovely red berries on the palate with a savoury finish. Good mouth-feel and weight with a hint of oak influence perhaps?


Howard Park – Chardonnay – 2009 (18+). Deeper colour here. Tight and lean on the nose, showing white peach, citrus and hints of honey and toast. The power and quality of the fruit really comes through on the palate. This is complex and very intense, with rich stonefruit notes over a textured, complex finish. The vanillin oak and buttery lees notes complement the fruit very well. A serious wine of real power, this will delight over the next 5 years. From the Great Southern.

Singlefile Estate – Chardonnay – Family Reserve – 2010 (17.9+). A tighter style that works really well. This is elegant and long, showing grapefruit, peach and nectarine on the palate. Quality oak adds complexity to the finish. Pineapple acid adds to the finish as does a touch of mineral and struck match. This got even better with a day on the tasting bench.

Deep Woods – Chardonnay – 2011 (17.5+). Subdued and tight, this is seamless and silky in the mouth. An unusual wine in that no features define the wine, but it is very enjoyable. An elegant wine with a touch of musk to close. Will take a couple of years to hit its straps and fill out.

Yering Station – Chardonnay – Village – 2010 (17.2). Compared to the Howard Park, this is delicate and refined. A precise wine with hints of citrus and nectarine over a creamy finish. Very well made, the gentle oak and lees contact really adds to the package. Good length too. One panellist noted that the wine was very well made, using the fruit to best effect.

Hill-Smith Estate – Chardonnay – Eden Valley – 2010 (17). Complex, creamy nose, with an appealing minerality on top. Powerful fruit on the palate that has been massaged with some skill in the winery. Quality oak is a bit obvious now, but should settle, as the wine integrates well with air.

Yering Station – Chardonnay – Little Yering – 2010 (16.9). Well made, if uncomplicated wine with varietally correct fruit characters and enough winemaking inputs to flesh out the palate. Easy drinking and enjoyable.

The Arm Chair Critic – Chardonnay – Over & Under – 2010 (16.5). This received good support with the panel appreciating the good length and pretty fruit that had grapefruit overtones. Will be better in another year or so and should represent good value.

Pinot Noir

St Huberts – Pinot Noir – 2010 (17 – 17.5). Delicate fruit on the nose. The palate hints at strawberry. This is very well made and quite silky, while the textural components add life to the mid palate. Very good length, this needs 5 years to show its best. Great to see a wine of this quality under this label.

Yering Station – Pinot Noir – Village – 2010 (17.3). Fresh, vibrant and appealing wine. There are hints of cherry and plenty of spice, with good length and a touch of complexity on the finish. This actually builds nicely in the mouth, suggesting that a few years would see it improve. Develops fleshy fruit of real appeal with air. Cherry and spice to close.

Mad Fish – Pinot Noir – Grand Stand – 2010 (17.2). A bigger style with immediate appeal. There is lovely cherry fruit with hints of plum and aniseed on the finish. In fact, there is a touch of fresh fennel and star anise. This is lush and velvety in the mouth and oh so easy to drink. Not that complex, but who cares.

Yering Station – Pinot Noir – Little Yering – 2010 (16.7). Some appeal here. This is a straightforward, slightly sappy wine that would suit food well. There is, perhaps, a touch of carbonic maceration that adds a hint of candy.