Aussie wine trends: 4. Perfecting Pinot

11th January, 2013 by Patrick Schmitt - This article is over multiple pages: 1 2 3

Burgundy appreciation is clearly evident among Australia’s winemakers, and among those producing Pinot Noir, it’s an obsession.

Pinot NoirBut while it’s a costly addiction, it’s also a healthy one – Australia is producing increasingly refined results with the hard-to-grow grape, although winemakers admit they are yet to make the perfect Pinot.

The changes mirror in many respects those seen with Australian Chardonnay, and stem from a focus on cooler-climate sites, planting of better clones, use of low-vigour rootstocks and increasingly attentive viticulture, along with the fact Pinot Noir vines in many parts of the country are older and therefore producing better quality grapes.

Then there’s the improved winemaking know-how, as well as significant changes in cellar practices, such as the rise in whole bunch fermentations and the reduction in new oak use.

Like Chardonnay, the hot spots for quality Pinot Noir are similar – the so-called “Dress Circle” of regions around Melbourne, particularly Geelong, Mornington and the Yarra, as well as – outside Victoria – above all Tasmania.

Also, not unlike Chardonnay, clonal selection is important, although surpassed in terms of impact on style and quality by vine age – and, some say, rootstock. Management of the vines is also particularly important, with impressive results requiring meticulous viticultural practices. Then there’s the winemaking. Similar to Australian Shiraz, whole bunch fermentations are becoming more popular, while the percentage of new oak is dropping away, and the size of maturation vessel increasing.

At Lethbridge Wines, Maree Collis says there’s been “a big revolution in the quality of Pinot Noir, particularly in Victoria”, noting the technical advances in winemaking and desire to experiment, particularly with whole bunch fermentations.

She also stresses the positive influence of the annual Pinot Noir conference started by Yarra Valley producers 10 years ago. It gives winemakers a chance to try Pinot Noirs from around the world as well as share the results of their trials. However, she adds: “Australia is very young when it comes to Pinot Noir.”

Similarly, at Yabby Lake, Keith Harris says: “Pinot Noir is still a work in progress.” Also, he records: “Twenty years ago if we were talking about Pinot Noir in Australia it would have been with reference to just a handful of producers: Bannockburn, Bass Philip, Giaconda and Paringa.”

Meanwhile, he stresses the positive role of better viticultural practices. “Now everyone in Mornington is low cropped with very strictly regulated canopies, and everything is hand picked… You don’t want anything more than two tonnes per acre, and some years we drop 50% of the fruit.”

Likewise, Martin Spedding, owner and winemaker at 10 Minutes by Tractor, is focused on attentive vineyard practices, and describes his approach to Pinot Noir as “meticulous”. He also notes “an uplift in quality” as the vines surpass “10-15 years” in the ground. Summing up advances in Mornington specifically he says: “Vine age, keeping yields under control and professionalism in winemaking means it’s all coming together.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters

Job vacancies

Sales Executive - Wine and Spirits Awards

The Drinks Business
Central London, UK

On-Trade Channel Manager

Delegat Europe Limited (UK)
London / Midlands, GB

Trade Marketing Analyst

Delegat Europe (UK)
London, GB

Key Account Executive

Delegat Europe Limited (UK)
London / Midlands, GB

Senior National Account Manager

Bibendum PLB
London, UK

ON-TRADE Sales Executive

Roberson Wine
London, UK

OFF-TRADE Sales Executive

Roberson Wine
London, UK

Judging Week Runners

Decanter World Wine Awards
ExCel Centre, London E16, UK

Sales Administrator

Les Caves de Pyrène
Guildford, UK

Retail Commercial Executive

Laithwaite's Wine
Theale, Berkshire

Wine Buyer

Conviviality Plc
Crewe, UK

Sales Account Manager - On-Trade

Berkmann Wine Cellars
Liverpool

Sales Account Manager - On-Trade

Berkmann Wine Cellars
M3/M4 corridor

Media Sales Manager - Hong Kong

The Drinks Business Hong Kong
Hong Kong

Regional Account Manager

New Generation McKinley
London, UK

The Global Merlot Masters 2017

Deadline : 31st March 2017

The Prosecco Masters 2017

Deadline : 10th March 2017

db Awards 2017

Deadline : 28th April 2017

The Global Organic Masters 2017

Deadline : 3rd March 2017

Click to view more

The Global Sparkling Masters

the drinks business is thrilled to announce the launch of The Global Sparkling Masters

The Global Rosé Masters 2016

the drinks business is proud to announce the launch of the Global Rosé Masters 2016.

The Prosecco Masters 2016

Now in its third year, the competition will reflect the growth in popularity of this fresh and exciting sparkling wine from the picturesque regions of Veneto and Friuli.

The Global Pinot Noir Masters 2016

After the success of last year’s competition that judged over 250 wines from no less than 16 countries, the drinks business is proud to announce the third year of the Global Pinot Noir Masters

Click to view more