IN THE GRIP OF TER­ROIR

The Weekend Australian - Life - - FOOD & WINE -

Wine­maker David Lloyd hands me a glass of bright red pinot noir. I taste it: ethe­real, pretty, per­fumed, silky. We’re stand­ing in his win­ery at Red Hill on Vic­to­ria’s Morn­ing­ton Penin­sula. The build­ing is in the mid­dle of his vineyard, Eldridge Es­tate, draped across a gen­tle slope.

Lloyd eases the bung from an­other bar­rel, squirts a sam­ple of pinot into an­other glass and passes it to me. It looks al­most the same, a shade darker per­haps. It smells sim­i­lar, too — pretty, fra­grant, red­fruity — but on the tongue it’s dif­fer­ent: more weight, more grip, more per­sis­tence.

Both wines were grown on the same slope, just out­side the room we’re stand­ing in.

The first pinot I taste comes from the vines on the up­hill, southerly sec­tion of the small vineyard, closer to the win­ery; the sec­ond comes from the down­hill bit a lit­tle fur­ther away to the north.

If you go to the win­ery’s web­site or look it up on Google satel­lite — or in­deed stand on the bal­cony of the cel­lar door and gaze out over the prop­erty — you can see this down­hill patch clearly: a rec­tan­gle of vine rows, nes­tled in the cor­ner, just a stone’s throw from the rest.

Same vines — same clones, farmed the same way, made the same way — but the wines are in­dis­putably dif­fer­ent; a vivid demon­stra­tion of the re­al­ity of ter­roir. And so, since 2012, they have been bot­tled sep­a­rately.

It’s fash­ion­able in aca­demic wine cir­cles to pooh-pooh ter­roir be­cause — ar­gue the sci­en­tists — although it can be tasted, it is hard to mea­sure.

In­deed, just a cou­ple of months ago a pro­fes­sor of viti­cul­ture at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia pub­lished a book un­am­bigu­ously ti­tled Ter­roir and Other Myths of Wine­grow­ing.

But David Lloyd, who spent many years in science ed­u­ca­tion be­fore mov­ing to full-time wine­grow­ing, isn’t one of the nay-say­ers. As well as bot­tling this demon­stra­tion of pinot noir ter­roir so that wine drinkers can taste it for them­selves, he has also metic­u­lously quan­ti­fied the dif­fer­ences be­tween the two sec­tions of the vineyard — the grapes grown in the slightly heav­ier ground of the north­ern sec­tion have mea­sur­ably higher lev­els of tan­nin, for ex­am­ple, which ac­counts for the ex­tra weight and grip on the tongue. He will be pre­sent­ing his find­ings at an up­com­ing sym­po­sium on cool cli­mate wine.

The 2012 vintage of the North and South pinot noirs are avail­able from the win­ery as a twin pack for $150. The 2014 vintage of the North and South pinots come as part of a six­pack ($387, in­clud­ing free de­liv­ery) that also in­cludes the 2014 Clonal Blend Pinot Noir, the 2014 Ga­may, the 2014 MV6 Pinot Noir and the 2014 Eldridge Clone 1, the first re­lease of a pinot pro­duced from a spe­cial Bur­gun­dian clone of the grape that tastes dra­mat­i­cally dif­fer­ent from all the other wines: wilder, more un­der­growthy, more se­duc­tive.

If you’re a pinot nut — and I know there are a lot of you out there — this six­pack would make a per­fect in­dul­gent birth­day present to your­self. eldridge-es­tate.com.au

Eldridge Es­tate on Vic­to­ria’s Morn­ing­ton Penin­sula

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