Pinot noir pleasures


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I’ve recently uploaded 85 new pinot noir reviews, mostly Australian wines with quite a number of New Zealanders. There’s always a lot to get excited about with pinot, although finding good value is as hard as ever. I find many pinots expensive, without any special distinction.

Mornington Peninsula winery Stonier is one of the most serious players in pinot. Its new releases from the 2013 vintage number seven – six single-vineyard bottlings and the Reserve. One of the single-vineyard wines is W-WB (tasting), which stands for Windmill Vineyard, whole-bunch, differentiating it from the regular Windmill Vineyard pinot (tastings). All the wines subtly different and all very good, but my favourite was the Reserve (tasting), which at $55 is not the dearest wine of the collection. The others step up to a peak of $85.

All the wines share the Stonier style, which is quite particular. Don’t expect dark-coloured, big-framed, “look-at-me” pinots. These are fine-boned, restrained pinots of medium-depth ruby colour and chocolate, vanilla flavours to go with the cherry spectrum fruits, the tannins invariably soft and gentle. They are fragrant, subtle wines which no doubt reflect the terroir of the Mornington Peninsula region focusing on the Merricks North area. The most ethereal of them (not for the first time) is the Merron’s Vineyard (tasting), a delicate wine from a relatively high-altitude site at Red Hill.

Others of special interest are the William Downie 2015 wines (Yarra, Gippsland and Mornington – tastings) – quite big, ripe, structured wines, which I suspect will show better after another year or two in the bottle. Like many micro-boutique wines, they are released very early, perhaps too early.

In the value-for-money stakes, I was impressed by Tibooburra (tasting) and Giant Steps (tasting) 2015s (both $35), Neudorf Tom’s Block 2014 ($33 – tasting), and Domaine A’s second-string Stoney Vineyard 2015 ($38 – tasting). Dropping down a few dollars in price, and also keen value for money, were 2014 Centennial Reserve (Orange, $30 – tasting), 2015 Paringa Estate ‘Peninsula’ ($29 – tasting), and 2015 Punt Road Napoleone Vineyard ($29 – tasting).

My favourite of the lot was Charteris The Winter Vineyard 2013 from Central Otago ($72 – tasting): a ripper of a wine. It’s marvellously concentrated, fresh, balanced and poised, with great structure as well as perfectly ripened dark cherry fruit.


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