Tasting Notes - 10 value pinots

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Taste Food and Wine 2009 by Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer

Taste Food and Wine 2009 by Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer

Taste Food and Wine 2009 covers the best wine releases for the coming year. Authors Tyson Stelzer and Matthew Jukes say Australia is rubbing shoulders with New Zealand now in quality Pinot Noir production, however the troublesome 2007 vintage had a devasting effect on red wine quality in general, and especially Pinot Noir. Here are 10 great value Pinots that made the cut.

De Bortoli Windy Peak Pinot Noir     2008    $14.00
If you shop well, there is a chance that you could get two bottles of this wine for the same price as our cheapest Kiwi Pinot, which is all the more remarkable, because this wine is the best Windy Pants Pinot to date, and it raises the bar further than we ever thought possible over last year’s wine. Goodness gracious, this is lovely. A beautiful violet and spice nose, textured palate, classy, medium-weight finish that is already totally relaxed - this is incredible.

De Bortoli Gulf Station Yarra Valley Pinot Noir     2008    $16.00   
More intense and with a tad more wood and more tannin than Windy Pants, what would we do without De Bortoli's Pinots? They both come in under the rest of the Pinots in our list and the black cherry, spice and grippy but supple tannins make this an impressive creation. Gulf Station is  more closely related to De Bortoli Pinot than it is to Windy Pants, though. You can’t buy a Bourgogne Rouge at this price so this is one of the best value and best tasting Pinot Noirs on the planet.

Braided River Marlborough Pinot Noir     2007    $19.00   
Fresh and clean with red berries and pretty, lifted rose petal notes on the bouquet, there is a lightness of touch and delicacy which is compelling in this wine. It gently caresses the palate, as opposed to ram-raiding it at speed. This is the  only NZ Pinot under $20 worth even looking. We would love there to be more, and we ask everyone to play ball but this is the wine that we recommend to you this year.   

Scotchmans Hill Swan Bay Pinot Noir     2007    $19.00       
This wine is like fresh-picked, shiny cherries that you can't get in your mouth fast enough. With its really smart, black label, it looks as serious as it tastes. It’s only going to get better over the next twelve months as well! This wine over-delivers, so much so that Scotchman’s Estate wine, which is twice the price, simply isn’t in the frame this year.   
Riposte by Tim Knappstein The Sabre Pinot Noir     2007    $27.00       
A decade ago there would have been a handful of Adelaide Hills Pinot Noirs queuing up to be in this book, but for some reason this region has changed its focus, favouring Shiraz and Chardonnay over the Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Noirs of old. But you’ll never find anyone like Tim Knappstein ever dropping the ball. In fact, quite the reverse. He champions this style of wine and continues to push hard. The Sabre has juicy black plums and spicy baked plum cake flavours giving it the depth of fruit of a much more serious wine.

Paringa Estate Peninsula Pinot Noir     2007    $29.00   
Quite a change of pace for Pinot Noir from our last example at $19, and an enormous step up in intensity - Paringa has juicy red fruits and exotic spices with a beautiful palate and great length. It even manages to hold its 14.5% alcohol with real poise. The pretty mulberry fruit and silky structure enable you to crack on with this wine much earlier than you would normally - we suggest 6pm.    

Spy Valley Marlborough Pinot Noir     2007    $30.00       
With accurate black fruits and spice and a lifted violet bouquet, this is a delicious Kiwi Pinot Noir. Darker and more intense than the Braided River, with plum fruit and coffee/mocha oak it seems ridiculous that in this $10 gap, 30 Pinots did not make the grade. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to find and destroy this wine (dans la bouche).   

De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate Grown Pinot Noir     2007    $36.00   
In a world of terribly skinny 2007 Victorian Pinot Noirs, this is the only one, after a long line, which had balance. So many of its competitors have tragically fallen in this vintage of drought, frost and all of the plagues of Egypt. You know, like we do, that competition is rife around the planet, and now is the time to strive for excellence, not mediocrity. Let the weak fall by the wayside. With lots of complexity and spice and great length and tannin texture, this wine is going to take until Christmas '08 to even start to flatter, but it will run and run for five more years.   

Ocean Eight Pinot Noir     2007    $40.00       
We tasted all the Kooyongs, Giacondas, PHI, Farr and Bass Phillips and there was something nagging at the back of our brains, and that was to return to Yabby Lake and Ocean Eight because they offered twice the excitement for half the money. Brimming with a fruit compote of mixed berries and red cherries, Ocean Eight Pinot Noir offers more action-packed excitement than Brad Pitt on the big screen.   

Auntsfield Hawk Hill Pinot Noir     2007    $43.00   
This wine embodies the perfectionism that Auntsfield seeks. It’s an estate that prides itself in pushing everything to the limit. A relative newcomer to the international scene, Auntsfield is making waves in Europe as well as Australia, which proves that the restraint and complexity in this wine really appeals to all palates. Very pretty fruit characters with lots of raspberry and strawberry (typical of Marlborough) make this a more red-fruited wine than those from Central Otago.   


Reproduced with permission. © Copyright Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer 2008

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  • Adelaide Hills (SA)
  • Mornington Peninsula (VIC)
  • Yarra Valley (Wine) (VIC)

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