This is a wine more than 10 years in the making, and a hugely exciting addition to the Pinot Noir landscape. It’s a wine I’ve been looking forward to trying ever since a chat I had with winemaker Jim Chatto while we checked out different Hunter Valley vineyards during the sodden 2012 vintage.Much of Chatto’s time as a winemaker has been spent, and continues to be in the Hunter Valley where Shiraz and Semillon are the staples. So why a Tasmanian Pinot Noir?
Firstly he is a lover of great Burgundy, and one of those few lucky souls who along with some mates gets a Domaine de la Romanee Conti allocation each year. Not unsurprisingly then, making great Pinot is the dream. To make such a wine, Tasmania became a logical choice. Not only is it something of the Pinot promised land in Australia, but it is where he met his better half, Daisy, while working in Tasmania in the late 90s.So with the grape and state worked out, the search began for the ideal site in the early noughties. One of the key things Jim was looking for was a southerly site. He’s a strong believer, among other things, in the importance of latitude when it comes to great Pinot. And so it was that Isle Vineyard was landed upon, some 50kms south of Hobart. It’s one of the southernmost vineyards in Tasmania, and therefore Australia. A cool, and potentially marginal place to grow grapes, however the vineyard itself is a warmer, north facing site. And of course that higher latitude provides for just that extra bit of daylight in summer.
Planting of the site began in 2007 with multiple Pinot clones. The view was not only to benefit from the different characteristics multiple clones can bring to a wine, but also as a way to trial these different clones in the vineyard and potentially refine which and how many clones remain as the site becomes better understood over time.Five years on, with just enough vine maturity, the first vintage of this wine was produced. It’s an exciting first wine, and bottle age may indeed produce something pretty special. Over a few days it revealed an increasingly beautiful nose of dark cherry, some sexy oak, cloves, and an appealing smokiness. To drink it shows lovely palate weight and a bit of viscosity, while never becoming heavy. Spice. A beautiful citrus note, along with some earthiness gradually emerge with time. There’s an intensity and vinous quality to the wine that course right through to its long finish. Very good now. Potentially great in 5 years or so. I considered giving it the 4.5 stars, but for now I'll let some time in the cellar and a plus sign do the work for me. Great debut. 4 Stars +
Rated: 4 Stars +