Pinot from the Macedon Ranges, Tasmania and the Mornington Peninsula, with a main course serve from the Yarra Valley and a side of Martinborough, New Zealand, round out this issue of Pinot Report. The stakes are high and this collection of modern-leaning pinot noirs set a high standard across the board.
Josh Cooper has delivered much in just a few years, including taking out our Young Winemaker of the Year Award in 2020. While he has developed a deep-set fascination with cabernet sauvignon and claret, he maintains a strong fix on single site pinot noir and chardonnay wines.
From South Gisborne, the 2020 Ray-Monde Vineyard Pinot Noir (A$65) offers such ebullient strawberry and bright red cherry fruit aromas as well as blueberry and sweet fragrant perfume. The palate has silky texture with smooth-honed tannins set in a supple, finely groomed mode. Pomegranate and kirsch to close, this is so upbeat and will drink well over the next eight years or more. 96
The 2020 Doug’s Vineyard Pinot Noir (A$65) nails the double act of freshness and richness with intense blueberry, dark cherry, violet and spice aromas. Lots going on in the glass and it is only just getting started. The palate is also still settling in and for now it has a granular and brazen crunchy style of tannin that will fill out and emulsify in time. Some smoky bunchy nuances, the acidity sets up a long crunchy red cherry and yellow plum fruit finish. Try this from 2024. 96
There’s a new look to the 2019 Ata Rangi Crimson Pinot Noir (NZ$38) but it’s the same delicious wine we’ve all come to love since its introduction in 1990. Bright red cherry and rose-like perfume, as well as a sappy edge that adds further interest, with orange peel and plenty of spice complexity. The palate has a supple and elegant feel with a plush, fresh core of spicy red cherry and plum fruit. Bright, vibrant and gently creamy. Drink now. 93
The 2018 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir (NZ$75) is an amalgam of the oldest parcels and contains around 40% of Abel clone material. There’s a warm season at work here, with a hot, dry November and December, a record hot January, then a wetter, cooler run to harvest. The wine has trademark spices and florals with aromas of red cherry and summer berries, forest wood, five spice and rose. The palate has smoothly layered tannins and a core of fresh red cherry fruit swathed in more savoury woody spices, cranberry and blood orange. All with convincing drive, too. 95
Ex-pat Australian Jane Eyre has settled into a new winery just in time for the 2021 French harvest and on the back of some well-earned recognition in the French wine press. She is no doubt happy to finally have a winery of her own after sharing a cellar in Bligny for many years.
Getting these Aussie pinots made was a roller-coaster ride; the press at Yering Station was all set to load with the Yarra Valley pinot after three weeks on skins, and Eyre had to stop, pack and get one of the last flights out of Australia to make it back to France before the pandemic stopped the world in its tracks.
Then there was the new Tasmanian project in collaboration with Jim Chatto. With grapes yet to be selected, this inaugural 2020 pinot was made with careful counsel and air-freighted samples to arrive at the final blend. Incidentally Chatto has a reciprocal Savigny-lès-Beaune arriving soon in Australia which has been overseen by Eyre in Burgundy. More on that next issue.
The 2020 Jane Eyre Yarra Valley Pinot Noir (A$65) is made with grapes sourced from the Thousand Candles Vineyard and contains 20% whole bunches. This is nicely tuned into the cooler vintage character with fresh aromas of sliced strawberry and cherry, as well as red florals, gentle oak spice and fresh leafy nuances. The palate is sleek, layered and crisp with fresh cherry flavour. Elegant, fine, focused and pure. Drinks well now. 93
Eyre’s 2020 Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir (A$65) is a dry-grown parcel from Merricks and was also made with an inclusion of 20% whole bunches. This shows a cooler, slightly reductive and peppery edge on first opening with rose and violet florals, summer berries, orange peel and forest floor, turning spicy with air. The palate has very evenly layered build and gently grainy tannins deliver fresh, pure cherry flavour. Drink over the next five years. 94
The new 2020 Tasmania Pinot Noir (A$65) is an amalgam of three sites across Tasmania being the Glengarry Vineyard in the Tamar Valley planted in 1991 (50%), then Marions Vineyard (25%) also Tamar and Bird Vineyard (25%) in Pipers River. The resulting wine is very perfumed with rose, sandalwood, violet and fresh forest-like tones across fresh and spicy strawberry and cherry fruits. The palate offers attractive depth with sturdy tannins framing bright red cherry fruit flesh. Succulent with a little chew, try from 2023. 93
I’ve reviewed the 2020 Giant Steps Fatal Shore Pinot Noir from Tasmania in the Top New Releases on page 135. You’ll also find the 2020 Giant Steps Wombat Creek Vineyard Pinot Noir in that same section, a deliciously sappy whole-bunchy edition that was punched out fresh and lively.
The three single vineyard pinots here all wear the livery of the cooler 2020 growing season, which began with a cold winter and a cool spring and finished with a mild late summer. Low yields of fresh, small bunch pinot is the result and the wines have a compactness with bright acids a highlight.
The 2020 Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Pinot Noir (A$65) sits more in the blueberry fruit zone with less of the redder fruits seen in the other single vineyard pinots. It has brambly aromas as well as an earthy edge, the oak is very much in the background. This vineyard always delivers quality skin tannins and they are well-placed here adding some good depth and smoothly ripe texture to bright blueberry and plum flavours. Finishes smoothly. Drink over the next six years. 94
The 2020 Applejack Vineyard Pinot Noir (A$65) is the most sappy and brambly of the 2020 single vineyard pinots. It has plenty of fragrance with deep-set spice beneath herbs and florals as well as fresh strawberry, raspberry and red cherry fruits. A little flint, too. The palate has a taut, elegant and fine feel with tart red fruits delivered amid bright acidity, a real stamp of the season. Holds tight on the finish for now. Try from 2023. 94
The 20-year-old Primavera Vineyard (A$65) up in Hoddles Creek has really performed well in 2020. This offers such a showy and attractively expressive style with an abundance of fresh-sliced strawberry, blueberry and red cherry fruit on the nose, fragrantly sweet and exuberantly sappy. The palate is succulently plump and has plush bright mixed berry fruit flavours. Acidity elevates this beautifully and the plush, ripe tannins roll deep and even. Drink over the next six years. 95