Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Red's Top 5 - 2013


2013 has been a quieter wine year. Between the day job and a 1 year old son, there isn’t nearly as much time left over for vinous pursuits. That being said there has still been a reasonable amount of consumption, and some real highlights. As ever, this list is not necessarily the 5 highest scoring wines, but the 5 most memorable. These are wines that really stood out and whose tastes still lingered in the memory months after having been imbibed. In alphabetical order -

2008 Bindi Original Vineyard Pinot Noir (Macedon) – In an environment of ever increasing interest and quality when it comes to Australian Pinot, and a couple of very good vintages of late in many of the Pinot regions (2010 & 2012), this stood out above them all. At 5 years of age it has really started to hit its stride and should drink beautifully over the next 5 years. Generosity, elegance, and complexity all in one.

2009 Domaine Tempier Bandol (Bandol, France) – Given its relative scarcity, Mourvedre tends not to be a regular part of the drinking diet, but when I drink a good one I wonder why I don't make more of an effort. This wine matches perfectly ripe fruit with those appealing gamey, earthy Mourvedre characteristics. Beautiful, prominent tannins. Should be at its best in another 5 years or so.

2010 Marius Symphony Shiraz (McLaren Vale) – McLaren Vale Shiraz would rarely sit in any favourite list for me. This is not a comment on quality, simply a flavour profile that’s not generally to my liking. The Marius vineyard, however, is a unique bit of dirt in this region that is producing remarkable wine. The 2010 undoubtedly displays regional richness, but there is also a freshness and savouriness to match, and beautiful mouth puckering tannins to boot. Such prominent and quality tannins, the result of a long maceration, mark it out as unique amongst Australian Shiraz.

2012 Mesh Riesling (Eden Valley) – I’m always partial to Eden Valley Riesling, and then when you combine a great vintage like 2012 with the gun winemaking duo of Jeffrey Grosset and Robert Hill Smith, there was always a danger this wine would end up in my top 5. It’s incredibly primary and vinous at this stage, and can be enjoyed as such, but the length and latent detail and complexity will see this wine evolve beautifully over the next decade and beyond.

2011 Oakridge 864 Funder and Diamond Vineyard Drive Block Chardonnay (Yarra Valley) – Not exactly a sexy name, but certainly a sexy wine. Intensity, energy, and length, all within a fine boned framework that will flesh out over the next few years. Great Yarra Valley Chardonnay and a superb addition to the 864 stable.
All these wines have found homes in my cellar, and I look forward to drinking and reviewing them as the years roll on.

Monday, December 2, 2013

2012 Chatto Pinot Noir (Tasmania)

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 +
RRP: $45
ABV: 13.0%
Closure: Screwcap
Drink: 2015-2022

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