Vineyards in Mendoza, Argentina.

Bass Phillip

The 2019 vintage pinots from Bass Phillip are among the first wines released under the new ownership of the domaine and the range has shifted slightly to omit the Crown Prince and Old Cellar wines and add a new entry-level wine called Bin 17K. The grapes were harvested and vinified under Phillip Jones and finalised and bottled under the new watch of winemaker Jean-Marie Fourrier who represents a syndicate of investors.

It is no secret that the 2019 vintage has delivered great pinot noir across many of Victoria’s top producers and these wines are no exception. They have a familiar sense of depth and concentration, as well as a sense of complete phenolic ripeness and vivid freshness. These wines have always demonstrated immense concentration and complexity, and landed the palate on a point of precision and purity. Packed with perfume and red cherry fruits, these herald a great vintage from a great producer under new ownership.

The inaugural 2019 Bass Phillip Bin 17K Pinot Noir is an amalgam of 100% estate-grown fruit and it holds a floral edge to the nose with light pink and red perfume as well as strawberry, raspberry and light red cherry fruits. The palate has juicy ripe red cherry fruit delivered in a very direct style. Tannins are soft and approachable yet Bass Phillip’s signature mode of power with poise is intact here.

The 2019 Estate Pinot Noir offers a rich and ripe first impression with sappy forest berries and a violet-like floral edge, as well as fresh blueberry. The palate is rich and punchy with genuine weight of ripe red cherry fruit set in a sapid frame of lithe and fresh tannin. The acidity emerges as a salient, refreshing influence at the finish and holds a precise lasting impression. A wine to drink over the next six years.

The 2019 Premium Pinot Noir is symphonic in terms of richness, intensity and complexity and yet it retains a sense of focus in terms of palate structure that harnesses so much interest. The aromas of red flowers, orange peel, pomegranate, red cherry and raspberry as well as red plum all sit so fresh and vital. The expressive red cherry and berry fruits explode and encompass the palate from the get-go with an air of such resolute balance and density. Captivating. Red cherry and blueberry flavours hold the long finish. Drink this over the next decade or more.

The 2019 Reserve Pinot Noir has a more taut feel and is unequivocally powerful and refined. Aromas of red cherry and blueberry are framed in fresh pastry, light cedar and baking spice notes as well as hints of mushroom and sappy forest aromas. The palate has a carefully groomed and refined feel with such concise and deeply flavoured blueberry and cherry fruit flavours. This is very seductive and moreish now but will reward cellaring for more than a decade.

Bass Phillip.

Bannockburn

This historic Geelong-based producer has also delivered some of its best pinot noir in recent vintages, with the 2019 Estate and Serré both pitched into a high-quality realm. The 2019 Estate offers serious depth and detail, with a signature leaf and dried bark edge to the spice-dusted red cherry and redcurrant fruits. The silkiness of the tannins is really the key though, delivering such length with seemingly little effort. Drink this over the next six to eight years.

The 2019 Serré was fermented as 20% whole bunches and this has driven breathability and lively aromatic definition into this wine in a ripe vintage. It has a rich core of ripe red and dark cherry fruits as well as an earthy, forest-like feel and a resoundingly silky texture on the palate. Here’s a pinot with good ripeness in the tannin department that builds and claims a velvety, rich dark cherry fruit finish. All you’re looking for in a top end pinot. Drink over the next decade.

Hurley Vineyard

I find the Hurley pinot noirs among the most discreetly detailed and fascinating made anywhere in Australia. They hold steadfastly to single parcel expressions that are very consistent in style from year to year. The Hommage bottling is notably absent from the 2019 vintage line-up and entirely classified to the Estate blend, along with selected barrels of Garamond and Lodestone. The Hurley model is a concise one and delivers watertight quality and consistency.

They waited later to harvest in 2019 in order to accumulate the desired intensity of aromas and flavours as well as the desired texture that only comes with phenolic ripeness. All three pinots have a roundness that reflects the vintage but this is also tempered by the 20 months elevate in barrel and Hurley’s 2019’s remain as faithful to vineyard and vintage as ever.

There is much to admire in the 2019 Estate with red cherry, redcurrant and dried rose as well as leafy elements and a spicy, aromatic edge too. The palate has a smooth fleshy feel with fine tannin texture and a very fresh, succulent finish. Very smartly resolved and drinkable for the next five years.

The 2019 Lodestone has an impressively bright and expressive nose with bright red cherry and pomegranate as well as sliced strawberry and a rose-like floral edge. The palate is so smoothly delivered with plush layered and fine tannin being a real signature and highlight of this wine. It finishes with a wealth of vivid red cherry fruit flavour. Drink this one over the next eight years.

Garamond holds the podium of quality in this trio of Hurley 2019s with ethereal rose-like perfume, complex dried spices as well as red cherry and leafy tones as well. The palate has such impressive composure and fine-layered tannins and the attractively tart red cherry fruits sit deep. Has a sense of elegance with intensity and power – all hallmarks of great pinot noir. Drink over the next decade or more.

Craggy Range

Expat Australian winemaker Julian Grounds has reinstated small batch trial winemaking over at New Zealand’s Craggy Range and the first such release is a single block single clone parcel from the Te Muna Vineyard, Block 19 Abel clone. Whilst Grounds did send some of this parcel into the Aroha blend from vintage 2019, he decided to bottle a portion separately on the basis of “sheer behaviour of the vines”, which sit in a much richer soil that retains moisture and delivers a distinctly different texture.

The 2019 Craggy Range Pinot Noir T01 is a very expressive wine on the nose with intense perfume and a clear sappy (70% whole bunch) style with ripe red and darker cherry fruits, along with plenty of spice. The palate texture has lattice-like tannins and a quite bold central surge of red and dark cherry fruit flavours, some darker plum fruit tones, too. Drink over the next five years.