A pinot noir gala
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.
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.
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.
Great summer drinking!