A pinot noir gala

The Yarra Yering pinot noir vineyard in the Yarra Valley. (Photo: Yarra Yering)

In a tasting of 75 new-release pinot noirs, there’s an element of déjà-vû as the big names that we’d expect to come up trumps, usually do. These are great to drink but the real fun is in discovering wines that are either new to me, or our readers, or haven’t risen to the top before.

One such is Gala Estate, from Tasmania’s East Coast, whose two pinots in my latest tasting both impressed. The 2016 Gala Estate ‘Estate’ bottling (AUD $65 – 95 points) was a ripper: deep in colour for a Tassie wine, loaded with succulent ripe cherry fruit and possessing more body than most of the Aussie wines in the group. The 2017 Gala Estate (AUD $30 – 95 points) was equally good, and great value – again, deeply-coloured and concentrated with lush cherry flavour.

This vineyard is at Cranbrook, between Swansea and Bicheno, not far from the famous Freycinet Peninsula. The Amos/Greenhill family has been farming this land since 1821 and is into its 7th generation, today producing fine merino wool, cereal crops and poppies as well as wine. The wines are vinified by contractor, Winemaking Tasmania.

I first encountered Gala Estate’s wines, most notably the pinot noirs and rieslings, at the Tasmanian Wine Show but they – like many small Tassie producers – keep a low profile. This is largely because their volumes are small and consequently they sell most of their wine within the island state.

Their 2013 Constable Amos Pinot made a big splash in the regional show in 2016, winning three trophies, capped by best red wine of show.

The 2015 Black Label Pinot also won a gold medal at the 2018 Tasmanian Wine Show.

I selected the 2014 Reserve to compete in the 2017 Six Nations Wine Challenge where it finished runner-up, second only to the 2014 Villa Maria Taylors Pass, from New Zealand. Incidentally, the ’14 Reserve is still listed for sale on the winery’s website at AUD $77 (AUD $62 for club members).

For a vineyard that was only planted in 2008, these wines show almost scary potential.

The other outstanding pinots in my tasting were the 2017s from Yarra Yering (another stunner from this great vineyard), Wantirna Estate ‘Lily’, Tolpuddle, and Marchand & Burch Mount Barrow.

Big scorers from across the ditch were Ata Rangi, Neudorf Moutere and Dog Point (all 2016s), while one of my most enjoyed lighter, fragrant, ready-drinking wines was the 2017 Polperro, from Mornington.

Of special interest is another Kiwi wine, Rimapere 2016, produced in Marlborough by Baron Edmond de Rothschild. It’s a very good first attempt and is AUD $60 at Dan Murphy’s.

Best value? After the AUD $30 Gala Estate 2017 it would have to be the Port Phillip Estate Quartier 2017 (AUD $27 – 92 pts).

Great summer drinking!

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