Kat and I attended a tasting for Pinot Noir the other night. Ah Pinot – the Holy Grail for all aspiring winemakers. Anyone who talks about this grape will mention how unforgiving it is, how hard it is to grow and how temperamental it can be. At the slightest sign of bad weather it will go into melodramatic death throws, complain about the cold (or hot) and whinge all the way to the bottle. If you can massage its temperament, treat it kindly and give it loving kisses in the vineyard it will reward you with the most sublime wine. If you don’t it will most likely call you cheating hag in front of all your friends and just downright embarrass you. Is it worth this risk? Well some winemakers think so and we are glad they are out there.
There were a couple of Frenchies in the mix on the night which were a starting pair to give sense of occasion and remind us all that this is where it all started – but I am going to skip them as this is Wine Around Oz and (with a few exceptions) I am not here to wax lyrical about foreigners!
In fact I’m not going to prattle on about everything we tasted, just the tidbits that blasted breath-taking flavours into the laughter gear and brought a tear to the eye.
Mornington Peninsula, Vic $70
As far as I am concerned MP is the bees knees wine region when it comes to Pinot in Oz. If you race into a bottle-o in need of a pinot for the lamb barbie you are on your way to, you don’t recognise the any of the labels, then grab the one from MP and you’ll probably be right. Yabby Lake is no exception, making all the right moves. Took some time to open up, so a decanter wouldn’t go astray but then it comes up smelling like roses. Well, more like mixed dark berries and some woody characters and then it just flows on in to the laughter gear with an entrance Halle Berry would be proud of. Fruity, with a touch of dark cherries. If you can afford the $70, get stuck into some yabby.
Macedon, Vic $50
Anyone who pours this little baby is going to think they’ve been hoodwinked. It’s cloudy! Yep none of the refinements of the landed gentry here, just an unadulterated raw pinot that is kinda like the starting 18 at the Dungog football club – looks like it has NO idea and yet seems leave those watching with an open mouth wondering how did they didn’t appreciate the finesse on the opening siren. Also like the Dungog starting 18, this wine is unfined and unfiltered. The winemaker apparently wants to let the wine do the talking in the raw form – and at some time in the future I am hoping to find out more as I think he just became the target for a video interview due to this wine. To me, the nose had some stinky sweet cherry and burnt oak. Sounds gross but it just drew me in more. Despite it’s heavy appearance it had a smooth entry, was beautifully rounded, fills the palette and had great length. Fruit rich flavours befitting a more expensive wine. In fact was almost better than Yabby Creek for $20 less.
Orange, NSW $35
Only a quick entry here to say that this was one of the cheapest wines on tasting but definitely was punching above it’s weight. The 14.5% alcohol played havoc with the nose and made it a little harsher than some of the others but big full dark fruit style to try and match the big alcohol. Worth it for this price.
Marlborough, NZ $25
Once upon a time the king-of-the-grapes god’s son (the prince) strayed into the land of the long white cloud. He rode in on his trusty horse with his polo-mallet weapon strung to his side. Here he met and fell in love with the nymph pixie princess. She and her people were the guardians of all fruits in this land which gave great joy to the humans. They married and had a son called Pinot. Alas, Pinot was a complicated soul and struck out readily with the force of his father’s weapon. So it became that drinking a Pinot from New Zealand is like being struck in the head by a polo-mallet made of fruit.
NZ takes the fruit aspect of new world wine to the next level in this wine. Coming from the austere, restrained and refined Frenchies from the beginning of the night through the Aussies on to this shows the whole gamut of fruit flavours in pinot. Vibrant like Las Vegas, fruit driven, floral, balanced with a decent length. If you like your fruit you will love this wine and for the price grab it if you can find it.