Top 10 - The best current release pinot noir

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Taste Food and Wine 2009 by Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer

Don't be a stranger to some of the great pinot noir released this year. Tyson Stelzer and Matthew Jukes bring us their top 10 recommendations from Taste Food and Wine 2009.

William Downie Yarra Valley     2007    $50.00   
It’s as much about texture with Bill’s wines as it is about flavour. This is one of the most thoughtfully assembled wines in Taste 2009 and it requires patience and some effort to coax the full array of flavours and aromas out of the glass this early in its lifetime, but this is a challenge well worth the effort.  In an ideal world you would wait five years, but this wine sells out in seconds so grab a case, try one bottle, put your mind at ease about its enormous potential and extraordinary introvertedness and then save the rest of the bots for some very smart dinner parties. With very fine black cherry fruit and grippy, textured tannins, this is a serious wine with staggering length. Bear in mind all of these notes when you taste this wine and then think of one more mightily important point – this is a Pinot Noir. It doesn’t say this on the bottle, because Bill wants you to enjoy it as a celestial red wine without any prejudice whatsoever. Adding this thought to the mix, go back to the glass and taste it again and then marvel at just how captivating this wine is.

Domaine Georges Roumier Bourgogne Rouge     2006    $60.00   
Domaines Georges Roumier is the name behind some of the most ethereal Pinot Noirs in the world. From a vineyard of less than one hectare, this is a very complete Bourgogne Rouge which is ready to drink right from the start. The 2006 vintage has blessed it with a delicate, pretty, fresh shape and the invigorating aromas of walking through a dewey forest at sunrise.   

Domaine Jean Grivot Bourgogne Rouge     2006    $60.00   
When I (TS) met Étienne Grivot, it became increasingly apparent that the unforced, serene, sensitive personality of the man was somehow translated into his wines. He described his different terroirs as a symphony, conducted and interpreted by the winemaker. Even his Bourgogne rouge accurately reflects its Vosne origins in its delicate red cherry fruit and savoury herb flavours, structured with firm, masculine tannins. This is a Bourgogne rouge for the cellar, and it demands at least five years before you should dare to approach it.   

Yabby Lake Vineyard Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir     2006    $60.00
This is a serious wine with valid delusions of grandeur. The robust fruit runs right up to where the firm tannins start. The bouquet promises a continued explosion of flavour which happens in style like a series of fireworks, setting the next ones off, over and over again. This is a big, crunchy wine with fairly chewy tannins that works extremely well with gamey dishes and serious, classic French cooking.   

Ghislaine Barthod Bourgogne Rouge     2006    $62.00   
Year in, year out, Ghislaine Barthod crafts a range of Chambolle-Musignys that represent the purest definition of Burgundy's most seductive commune. Her Bourgogne Rouge is always reliable and in 2006 it is one of the best from anywhere in Burgundy. It's one of her most evocative, with a lifted palate perfume that defines benchmark Chambolle.

Ashton Hills Vineyard Reserve Pinot Noir     2007    $64.00   
Stephen George continues to elevate his guru status ever further, and in the challenging 2007 vintage he has nailed it. What you must know is that a great winemaker manages to make stunning wine, year-in-year-out, and Ashton Hills is a label to rely on with Stephen being the Jedi Lord of the Hills. His is a  Pinot Noir with silky texture, exotic fruit and wild hedge row spice - feel the force in this wine.   

Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Collection Calvert Vineyard Central Otago Pinot Noir
    2007    $65.00
In the same way that the great wines of Burgundy are classified by their vineyard, the one Grand Cru vineyard in New Zealand is clearly Calvert because it is the source of fruit for all three of the top New Zealand Pinots that have made it into our list this year. Each one of these wines perfectly demonstrates the character and the winemaking style of its owner, and if you ever have the opportunity to taste all three side-by-side, as we did with twenty of our friends on the evening after our Pinot Noir tasting, you will be treated to one of the most complete and fascinating trios of wines that New Zealand has ever seen. Mike and Claudia Weersing, at Pyramid Valley, make wines with sensitivity, intricate detail and an other-worldliness that is both beguiling and hypnotic in equal measure. The supplest of these three Pinots is also the most aromatic and it is these perfumed aromas of Chinese five spice and cooled down plum skin that make it so alluring. For an even more intellectual experience of Pyramid Valley's Pinot Noirs, track down Earth Smoke 2006 and Angel Flower 2006 (both $80, both Canterbury). 

Domaine Méo-Camuzet Bourgogne Rouge     2006    $68.00   
The Domaine wines of Méo-Camuzet rank among the greatest Pinot Noirs in the world and their top labels sell for ear-splitting prices. It is a joy that this brilliance filters down to the entry-level Bourgogne Rouge classification, and in the excellent 2006 vintage it is expressed in this lively, red-fruited wine with a long, finely structured finish.

Craggy Range Pinot Noir Calvert Vineyard Central Otago     2007    $68.00   
Winemaker Steve Smith is obsessed with Pinot and his dedication to this variety means that he travels the world eulogising on New Zealand’s behalf about the wonders to be found within this variety. His own wine mirrors Steve’s near seven-foot Spartan physique with a depth of fruit and a darkness of chocolate and spice that builds on the palate and pounds your taste buds relentlessly with sumptuous flavours of macerated red fruit compote, stewed rhubarb and violet perfume, it's a great wine to be drunk with great friends.   

Felton Road Calvert Pinot Noir    2007    $78.00   
It’s not the delicacy, nor is it the power of this wine that attracts us, because this time Calvert expresses its fruit via the medium that is Felton Road, the most famous winery in the country. Nigel and Blair at Felton manage to enable this celestial variety to resonate in the glass so beautifully that the resulting wine has the whole gamut of Pinot flavours and sensations in one glass. Absolutely mesmerising. Lucky you if you get a chance to drink this wine.   


Reproduced with permission. © Copyright Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer 2008 Members can purchase Taste Food and Wine 2009 from our online partner Seekbooks at a 12.5% discount, postage and handling extra.


  • France - all (FR)
  • NZ South Island (NZ)
  • Mornington Peninsula (VIC)
  • Yarra Valley (Wine) (VIC)

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January 08th, 2009
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