Pinot pleasures aplenty

Tom Carson of Yabby Lake (Photo: Heathcote Wine Hub)

Pinot noir in Australia and New Zealand just gets better and better. Winemakers are building more experience and skill at handling the fruit; vineyard managers are producing better grapes and vineyards are maturing. Vineyards are located in more suitable sites than ever before.

My latest tasting of 55 ANZ pinots yielded what is probably a record success rate. Thirty wines (54%) scored 90 points or more (silver ribbon); 16 (29%) scored 92 or more, and seven (12%) scored 95 points or more (gold ribbon).

These are very strong results. I can still remember when pinot noir was first emerging in Australia in the early 1990s, and the majority of wines were thin and joyless: they looked brown in the glass and tasted green and weedy. Now, although the best pinots are expensive and nudging the $100 mark, it’s even possible to find delicious pinot at moderate prices – witness Yering Station 2015 (AUD $40), Paddy Borthwick 2015 and Scotchman’s Hill 2014 (both AUD $35), Medhurst 2015 (AUD $38), Artwine Saint Vincent 2015 (AUD $30) and Ray-Monde Deux 2015 (AUD $26).

At the top end, we have 2015 Yabby Lake Block 6 (AUD $95 and 96 points), Ashton Hills Reserve, Main Ridge Estate Half Acre, Grosset, Gembrook Hill, Yabby Lake Block 2 and Akarua Bannockburn — all from the very successful 2015 vintage — and Gembrook Hill from 2014. All gold ribbon scorers.

Holm Oak’s The Wizard was right up there with them.

Tom Carson’s three single block Yabby Lake pinots merit a special mention. These are spectacular wines. Although I rated the stemmy Block 1 a little behind the other two, it’s still very good, and to his credit, Carson has the courage to enter his wines into wine shows, where they impress the judges just as surely as they do wine scribes and other observers.

Finally, I’ve also critiqued the latest crop of Marchand & Burch French Collection Burgundies, six wines from the very good 2014 vintage. The best wine was the most expensive wine, the Clos de Vougeot, as we might expect. But the village-level Gevrey-Chambertin and Vosne-Romanée were also excellent. The cheapest wine, the AUD $59 Marsannay, was the least of the six, but also good in its station, earning a silver ribbon.

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