Aussie wine trends: 4. Perfecting Pinot

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 *

Please note that comments are subject to our posting guidelines in accordance with the Defamation Act 2013. Posts containing swear words, discrimination, offensive language and libellous or defamatory comments will not be approved.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Sales Manager

James Eadie Ltd
London, UK

Wine Ambassador Role

Ramón Bilbao UK
London, UK

Fine Wine Logistics Coordinator

IG Wines
London, UK

Sales Manager

Top Selection
London, UK

Assistant Retail Manager

The Whisky Exchange
London, UK

Marketing Manager

Ellis Wines
Hanworth, Middx, GB

Commercial Analyst

ATOM Group
Tunbridge Wells, UK

Customer Service Executive

Marussia Beverages
Marylebone, London, UK

HR Administrator

Amathus Drinks PLC
London, UK

Trade Marketing Manager

Australian Vintage Limited
Croydon, UK

The World Bulk Wine Exhibition

Amsterdam,Netherlands
20th Nov 2017

The Drinks Business Green Awards 2017

London,United Kingdom
20th Nov 2017

The Global Spirits Masters Lunch

London,United Kingdom
1st Dec 2017
Click to view more

Champagne Masters 2017

The only Champagne blind tasting in the UK, the competition will reward the best wines in the following categories:

The Global Rosé Masters 2017

With wines from the palest of pink to almost ruby red, bone dry to almost cloyingly sweet, reductively handled to barrel-aged, as well as gently spritzy to fully sparkling.

Click to view more