TASTE:

Ques­tions sur­round this cli­matic def­i­ni­tion

Life & Style Weekend - - WELCOME // INSIDE TODAY - With Travis Schultz

AS I POURED a glass of the 2008 Cold­stream Hills Pinot Noir to take the edge off last Sun­day’s mus­tard crusted lamb racks (which, I ad­mit, were wor­thy of a MasterChef elim­i­na­tion), I pon­dered the “cool cli­mate” re­gion­al­ity claimed by the win­ery.

Is the Yarra Val­ley, 50km north-east of Mel­bourne, re­ally a cool cli­mate?

Def­i­ni­tions as to what is a “cool cli­mate” ex­ist but of­ten are loosely ap­plied. The In­ter­na­tional Cool Cli­mate Wine Show de­fines a cool cli­mate wine as one com­ing from a vine­yard south of lat­i­tude 37.5 de­grees south or north of that lat­i­tude where the re­gion has an av­er­age Jan­uary or July (de­pend­ing upon hemi­sphere) tem­per­a­ture be­low 19 de­grees or where the vine­yard is above 800m in al­ti­tude.

On the other hand, other north­ern hemi­sphere def­i­ni­tions cat­e­gorise cool cli­mates by the av­er­age tem­per­a­ture of the seven months of the grow­ing sea­son. This if of­ten re­ferred to as “grow­ing sea­son tem­per­a­ture” or “GST”.

By this def­i­ni­tion, in or­der to be a cool cli­mate, the re­gion has to have an av­er­age tem­per­a­ture be­tween 13 and 15 de­grees over that seven-month grow­ing pe­riod.

Tas­ma­nia has a GST of about 14.4 de­grees and Cen­tral Otago 14.8 de­grees. The def­i­ni­tion is in­tended to cap­ture vine­yards where the vi­gneron faces the strug­gles of slow-ripen­ing fruit and risk of vine dam­age in win­ter.

It is of­ten said that cool con­di­tions are chal­leng­ing but re­sult in bet­ter-qual­ity wines through the re­ten­tion of acid, lower al­co­hol lev­els and bet­ter min­er­al­ity.

But if you find it a lit­tle con­fus­ing as to whether a re­gion is in fact “cool cli­mate”, you’re not alone. Among the best cool cli­mates in the world, there are sig­nif­i­cant cli­matic vari­a­tions.

Take Mosel in Ger­many, for ex­am­ple. The re­gion pro­duces ar­guably the world’s best ries­lings and it has an av­er­age mid­sum­mer tem­per­a­ture of 19 de­grees and an av­er­age mid­win­ter max­i­mum of one de­gree – now that is cold.

By way of com­par­i­son, Stan­thorpe ex­pe­ri­ences an av­er­age mid­sum­mer tem­per­a­ture of 27.4 de­grees and mid­win­ter tem­per­a­ture of 14.8 de­grees.

So the Yarra Val­ley, with a lat­i­tude of 37.7 de­grees and an al­ti­tude well be­low 800m, per­haps doesn’t make the cool cli­mate def­i­ni­tion.

But to be hon­est, as I pour a sec­ond glass of the Cold­stream Hills Pinot Noir, I couldn’t care less. It’s a de­light­ful but gamy style of pinot, with stewed plums on the nose and am­ple spicy char­ac­ters to sup­port a “cher­ri­fi­ca­tion” across the palate. There are am­ple fine tan­nins and the fin­ish has the poise and grace of an Olympic gym­nast.

The re­gion may only be “cool­ish” by world stan­dards but it is un­doubt­edly one of our bet­ter pinot-pro­duc­ing re­gions. Travis is a Sun­shine Coast busi­ness­man with a pas­sion for food and wine.

THE YARRA VALLET IS CON­SID­ERED A COLD CLI­MATE – BUT IS IT RE­ALLY?

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

DE­GREES OF DE­LIGHT: Cold­stream Hills vine­yard Rolling Hills, which pro­duces a won­der­ful pinot noir.

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