2016 Ingram Road Yarra Valley,
2013 Merricks Estate Mornington,
2015 Hochkirch ‘Maximus’ Henty,
2015 Lucinda Estate ‘Premium’ Gippsland
2018 Pooley Coal River, Tasmania
2017 Wooing Tree ‘Beetle Juice’ Central Otago, N.Z
Based in north-east Victoria, Beechworth is a former gold-rush town packed full of artisans who are making the most of the areas cooler climate to produce outstanding Australian Pinot Noir.
The Mornington Peninsula’s maritime climate and vastly different soil types allows producers to create a diverse range of terroir-driven wines. The cooling breeze that blows off Port Phillip and Western Port Bays is a blessing for the region’s winemakers in minimizing disease pressure. Have a look at this map and see for yourself the clear influence the cooling waters will have on the surrounding farmland.
The three main soil profiles on the Peninsula are sandy, red volcanic, and yellow and brown over clay.
Generally speaking, the further you go south, the cooler the vineyards become (thanks to the Antarctic waters of the Bass Strait), and those in the north tend to be warmer.
For more info on the region go to the Mornington Peninsular Vignerons Association.
Yarra Valley is Victoria’s oldest wine growing district – with its first vines planted in 1838. As Australia’s foremost cool climate wine producing region, Pinot Noir is king amongst the Yarra’s red varieties, with fruit driven wines featuring hints of strawberry and plum. Just a 50km drive from the Melbourne CBD, the Yarra is also the perfect day-trippers wine region.
Originally known for its table wines before the turn of the century – a revival in the 1970s led by local family vignerons, put Gippsland back on the wine map after a lengthy hiatus. With greatly varying soils and climates across its expansive geographic region – which runs across the NSW/Victorian border to the coast of Wonthaggi – wine producers in the South of Gippsland are known for making some of the finest Australian Pinot Noir.
With commercial vineyards operating in Tamar Valley as early as the mid-1800s, this cool climate region – which produces 40 per cent of Tasmania’s wine – is said to be the source of cuttings for the first vineyards planted in Victoria and South Australia. With a similar climate to Cote d’Or, Burgundy, the Tamar Valley is best known for Pinot Noir, Sparkling wine and quaint cellar doors.
The Pipers River region was brought to international attention by vigneron Andrew Pirie in 1974, and continues to be a widely recognised wine region, producing 30% of Tasmania’s vino. With a climate very similar to Champagne in France, it is also the home of Australia’s most reputable sparkling wines, including Dalrymple Vineyard’s neighbouring producers, Jansz Tasmania.
Coal River Valley
A scenic 20-minute drive from Hobart, Coal River Valley is home to the largest concentration of privately owned vineyards in Tasmania. Slightly warmer in temperature than its southern counterparts, it’s also the source of Dalrymple Vineyard’s seductively rich and silky Single Site Coal River Valley Pinot Noir.
With its patchwork of vineyards atop the peaks and slopes that shade Australia’s Wine Capital, the Adelaide Hills region has an uncharacteristically cool climate for South Australia. The perfect place for local big-name producers to try their hand at making Pinot, you’ll find everything from earthy and spice driven wines to bright, silky and smooth. Ashton Hills is our top Pinot pick from the lofty heights of the Adelaide Hills.
As important as it is to discuss the regional differences it is essential to link these differences to the resulting wines. The Wine Yarra Valley Website gives a good explanation on four “styles” of Pinot noir: Aromatic, Fruit Forward, Savory, Structured.
Aromatic or perfumed Pinot Noir
Cooler vineyard sites, earlier picking and the richer volcanic soils can all contribute towards producing a more perfumed style. Often these Pinot Noirs are not so much about body as delicacy and restraint. The most restrained and fine boned Pinot Noirs are probably particularly associated with earlier picked fruit.
Perfumed characters of Pinot Noir include the smell of flowers such as rose, tuber rose and violets. Other aromatic characters are cinnamon, nutmeg, sandalwood and musk. Wine making techniques that ferment whole rather than crushed grapes are significant in allowing the perfumed character of the grape to retained in the final wine.
Fruit forward Pinot Noir
Styles that are more closely identified with fruit from warmer parts of the Yarra Valley and perhaps winemaking methods that are more focused on pulling everything out of the skins (as opposed to the gentler methods that protect aromatics). Soils are likely to be clay and loam over sedimentary rock, and base of the hills and ranges vineyards with some alluvial deposits.
Flavours include strawberry, red and black cherry and raspberry. Quite often a lick of new oak flavour is evident to complement the sweeter fruit notes and to provide some complexity. Choosing to harvest a little later will give a greater sense of fruit sweetness making for a more cooked or jammy sense of berry and cherry character.
Savoury and earthy Pinot Noir
Wine made from Pinot Noir can sometimes have flavour and aroma characteristics that are described as being earthy, mushroom or truffle like, or other times as being similar to aged or game meats. It’s perhaps harder to align these characters with particular parts of the Yarra Valley, making it plausible that these characteristics are perhaps encouraged by wine making techniques and the growing conditions of particular years.
There are however a very small number of vineyards in the Yarra Valley with soils that contain granite. These seem to produce Pinot Noir that is fine boned and restrained, but also tending to show earth and mineral characteristics.
Structured and dense Pinot Noir
As the Yarra Valley moves into it’s sixth decade since replanting began in the 1960’s there is a developing understanding of which vineyards are better for particular grape varieties, and even more particularly, which parts of these vineyards deliver a little extra magic.
Additionally, as vines gain maturity, they also deliver more in terms of grapes that provide distinctive character in the final wines.
It would also be fair to say that there a group of innovative winemakers and vineyard managers whose work at improving biological and soil oriented farming methods for vines has shown remarkable results in the quality of grapes achieved.
This combination of specifically great site, older vines and soil condition oriented vineyard management has started to produce Pinot Noir wines that have more presence, density of flavour and structural components such as acid and astringency. They are far removed from the perception of Pinot Noir being a light and fruity red.