Stonier’s annual spotlight on pinot

Stonier’s annual international pinot noir tasting, SIPNOT, held in Sydney last week, once again shone a searchlight on this fascinating grape.


In past SIPNOTs, the Burgundies – of which there are usually about four, one being a grand cru – often come up smelling less than rosy, and seeming poor value compared to the Aussies and Kiwis.

This year, with the 2011 Southern and 2010 Northern Hemisphere vintages in the frame, the clear bargain-buy in a field of 12 was Dawson & James 2011 (tasting), from Tasmania’s Derwent Valley. The vineyard reportedly dodged the deluge that hit most of eastern Australia during the 2011 growing season. It was delicious in a fine-boned, ethereal style; highly aromatic, with feather-light tannins and, at $55, a steal.

The Burgundies mostly acquitted themselves well, my equal-top wines being the Comte Armand Pommard Clos des Epeneaux 2010 ($195) and Jean Grivot Nuits-St-Georges Les Pruliers 2010 ($200). The Pommard was deep and lovely without any of the astringency this wine has displayed in the past; the Grivot was ultra-complex and multi-faceted: it kept growing and giving more aromas and flavours the longer it was in the glass.

Just behind them on my score-sheet was Flowers Sea View Ridge Estate 2010, from California’s Sonoma Coast ($120), an elegant, energetic, seamless pinot. The lone grand cru, Domaine Duroche Charmes-Chambertin 2010 ($195) was also right up with the best; a little animal perhaps, but fine and penetrating with great length and texture.

Then came Dawson & James (tastings), Bindi Original Vineyard ($80 – tastings), Mt Difficulty Long Gully (Central Otago, $100 – tastings), Burn Cottage (Central Otago, $85), Stonier KBS Vineyard ($75), Williams Selyem Russian River Valley ($175), a very bretty Robert Groffier Chambolle-Musigny Les Sentiers ($220) and a thin and vegetal Bannockburn Serre ($95 – tastings). 

All good fun.


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