New release pinot noir

Eldridge Estate

Three producers – Ten Minutes by Tractor (the 2013 vintage), Eldridge Estate (the 2014s) and De Salis (2013s) – dominate the 80 new-release pinot noir tasting notes uploaded to the app this month.

The first two are located on the Mornington Peninsula, which has emerged in recent years as second only to the Yarra Valley for the title of most outstanding pinot noir region in Australia. This judgment is based on the sheer number of top quality wines being produced. Mornington is a much smaller region, so its achievement is no small praise.

Ten Minutes by Tractor, owned and directed by Martin Spedding with Moorooduc Estate’s (tastings) Rick McIntyre as contract winemaker, produces deliciously complex, multi-faceted pinots. They may not be the most deeply coloured, concentrated or bold fruited, but they are detailed, nuanced wines that fascinate. There’s the McCutcheon (tasting), Wallis (tasting), Coolart (tasting), and Estate blend (tasting) 2013s, and the 2014 10X (tasting) wines. Not for the first time, I found the McCutcheon vineyard the most outstanding of an outstanding group.

Eldridge Estate (pictured) is a much smaller producer drawing on its own, single, 3-hectare vineyard on high-altitude Main Ridge. The wines are superb, and in 2014 I feel the oak is more subtle than in previous vintages, permitting the fruit to express itself better than ever.

Owner David Lloyd has segmented his harvest more precisely than ever, and produced separate bottlings from the MV6 Clone, what Lloyd calls Eldridge Clone 1 (tasting – an unnamed clone which he imported from France himself), and two Clonal Blend wines, N (tasting) and S (tasting), picked from the north and south ends of the vineyard, which Lloyd has come to recognize are quite different in their expression. A difference which can only be attributed to terroir. He told me:

“I had the tannins tested from the 2015 North and South barrels of pinot. The difference is about 25% more in the North than the South. I am further testing my hypothesis on this for the 2016 wines and presenting the results as a paper at the International Cool Climate Symposium in the UK in late May. I was always a bit cynical about terroir, but this work has me quite captivated.”

Back to the 2014s. In addition, there is the Eldridge Estate Pinot Noir (tasting) and the Eldridge Estate Clonal Blend (tasting). So, six different wines, all well worth your attention; all subtly different and all superb.

Finally, the Orange region’s latest sensation: De Salis. Owner/winemaker Charlie Svenson is having a red-hot go with pinot noir (and, incidentally, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, sparkling wine and much else). His 2013 Lofty (tasting – named after the high-altitude vineyard, on the side of Mt Canobolas) pinot noir comes in two levels, the Blue Label and the regular white label. The Blue Label at $65 sets a new price-level for Orange pinot, and in my view is also setting the standard for pinot in the region.

There are many others in the tasting. Lisdillon (tasting), Curly Flat (tasting), Castle Rock Estate (tasting), Quealy (tasting), De Bortoli (tastings) and others are also in on the act. There’s a lot of terrific 2014 and ‘13 pinot noir on offer at the moment.

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