A parade of pinot pleasures

Nick (left) and Gary Farr (Photo: Wine By Farr)

Gorgeous pinot noir. It is the knock-out grape variety of the moment. The 2015 vintage throughout Australia produced sensational pinots, so grab them while you can. The 2016s won’t be nearly as good, although from what I’ve seen so far they are pleasant wines, just lighter and less intense, less complex, less age-worthy. Good, easy wines to drink young, while we wait for the 2015s to acquire a little more maturity.

My latest pinot noir tasting of 94 wines revealed many stunners. (And don’t worry: I don’t taste 94 wines in one hit. I tasted these in four bites on four separate days, a couple of dozen at a sitting. This is fairer to the wines and easier on my palate.)

The 2015 By Farr wines are outstanding: equal to anything the Farr family has produced. The Sangreal is especially mesmerizing and is already showing as a great wine. I scored it 98, which is high praise from me.

Also in the line-up were Eldridge Estate’s ‘15s, Foxey’s Hangout 2016s and ’15 single-vineyard bottlings, three Moorooduc Estate ‘15s, the Yering Station Reserve and Scarlett ‘15s, the four Hurley Vineyard wines and three Kooyong single-block wines, all from 2015.

Also Montalto’s 2015 single sub-region wines, the new Tapanappa, the new Curly Flat, two wines from Damian North’s Journey Wines including a rare small-batch Lone Star Creek bottling; a selection of Tokar Estate wines from the Yarra (the 2015 regular bottling is a blinder); a number of excellent Rochford wines, and their 2016s –made by the highly experienced Marc Lunt – are among the best ‘16s I’ve seen to date. The ‘Dans Les Bois’ bottling was my top scorer.

Giant Steps’ Primavera (a new single-vineyard bottling from Steve Flamsteed) and Applejack are superb, as you would expect from a great winemaker – and they’re among the best ‘16s I’ve tasted from the Yarra.

The top makers always deliver, as is the case with Dave Bicknell’s 2016 Oakridge 864 Hazeldene Vineyard – his ‘reserve’ selection. A ripper!

There were also the four new 2016 Tasmanian pinots under Peter Dredge’s Dr Edge label – one from the East, one South, one North and the fourth a blend. All superb. Dredge also makes the Meadowbank wines, and their 2016 (trophy winner for best pinot noir at the recent Sydney Royal Wine Show) is a beaut.

New and super exciting for me this tasting were Jonny Hughes’s Mewstone wines from Tasmania: the 2016 D’Entrecasteaux Channel and Hughes & Hughes pinots. The former is an outstanding wine, from the Hughes brothers’ own vineyard at Flowerpot in the Channel Country; the second is a cheaper but also very good carbonic maceration (Beaujolais-like) wine, blended from three Tasmanian regions.

Other smart wines came from Polperro, Ashton Hills, Catlin, Port Phillip Estate, Derwent Estate and Warramunda.

Looking over this line-up, I realise it is an extraordinary selection of pinot noir such as I would not be able to taste together anywhere else, other than my own tasting room. I feel extraordinarily privileged to be able to taste these wines all together in my own time, and in my own controlled surroundings. They deserve time and respect to appreciate their nuances. By no means, all of the wines were as good as those I’ve mentioned, but the poor wines were a small minority. There were a few ‘bretty’ wines, some that were too stalky or too developed, and several that were just plain ordinary, lacking charm and pinosity. But, as I say, they were a minority.

Tastings such as this remind me how fortunate I am to be doing what I do for a living.

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