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New Tastings: Pinot noir

Expect to hear relentless debates for the next year or so over which is the greater vintage for southern Victorian pinot noir: 2012 or 2013?

The ‘12s are a wonderful crop of pinots, for sure, and the top cuvées from all leading producers are now released, but some voices have been heard suggesting the 2013s are even better. The early-release cuvées, usually the cheaper bottlings, are out but the top wines – the reserves and single vineyard bottlings – are mostly yet to hit the shelves.

Early indications are very strong indeed.

For example, the single vineyard Giant Steps 2013 pinots are out, and the Applejack Vineyard (tasting) I think is even better than the ’12 – which was famously pipped for the Jimmy Watson Trophy because of lack of remaining stock. The ’13 Sexton Vineyard (tasting) is equally outstanding. The Ten Minutes by Tractor 10x (tasting) is a beauty, so is the De Bortoli Estate Grown Dixons Creek (tasting), while these producers’ big guns were yet to appear at time of tasting.

Among smaller makers, Circe (tasting) and Journey Wines (tasting) are superb. Stonier’s (tasting) and Coldstream Hills’ (tasting) entry-level wines are very promising. And from Tasmania, Jim Chatto’s Huon Valley ’13 (tasting) is nothing less than magnificent.

But the bulk of my latest 113-wine pinot tasting is from the 2012 vintage, and the field is chock-full of superb wines. At the top of the heap are the Kooyong single-block wines, capped by the heavenly Haven (tasting) (and the Estate is great value for money – tasting); also Timo Mayer’s amazing Granite pinot from the Upper Yarra (tasting), Curly Flat (tasting), Moorooduc Estate The Moorooduc (tasting), Ten Minutes by Tractor Judd vineyard (tasting), and Hurley Garamond (tasting).

Arguably the top wine of the entire tasting was Dog Point 2012 from Marlborough (tasting), a full-bodied, deep-coloured, powerful wine which made the lighter wines seem almost effete. This is a grand cru of a wine: truly magnificent.

Also for those who prefer plenty of stuffing in their pinot and aren’t afraid of tannin, Larry McKenna’s Escarpment single-vineyard 2012 bottlings from Martinborough are truly impressive, none moreso than the flagship Kupe (tasting).

There’s a great range of styles reviewed, from ethereal wines which would partner tuna tataki to blood-and-thunder styles to stand up to steak. Enjoy.

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