PINING FOR PINOT
We look beyond the French borders to pick other incarnations of this elegant ambrosia
KOOYONG ESTATE, MERES PINOT NOIR 2013
Mornington Peninsula, Australia ‘Cool climate’ has become such a trendy Aussie wine speak, you hear it even from winemakers in very warm regions, using the term for their hillside vineyards. Mornington Peninsula, which sticks out of the south-eastern coast into the Bass Strait, is one of the few Aussie wine regions that can truly claim to have cool climate status. Here, vineyards lap up the moderate temperatures to produce quality Pinot Noir.
One of the top producers in Mornington Peninsula is Kooyong Estate. The Meres, its prized single vineyard, is known for its low vigour and yield, producing a wine that is rich and expressive. The 2013 vintage is a silky ambrosia, with delicious primary flavours of cherries and plum, and tertiary notes of mushrooms, almonds and tamarind. Drink it now or cellar it for another five more years.
$129, from Hermitage Quality Wines. Tel: 6438 1120
NEWTON JOHNSON WINES, FAMILY VINEYARDS PINOT NOIR 2016
Hemel-en-Aarde, South Africa Pinot Noir isn’t exactly top of mind when it comes to South Africa’s red wines: most drinkers would mention Pinotage—the funky quaff born out of a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault—instead. This is good news for those who are looking for Pinot Noirs that are off the radar. The valley of Hemel-en-Aarde, which means ‘Heaven and Earth’ in Afrikaans, is home to just 15 wineries specialising in Pinot Noir. The maritime influence means the area is ideal for growing Pinot: winds come straight off the sea and give the area a cooler summer.
Hemel-en-Aarde-based Newton Johnson Wines’ Pinot Noirs are grown in the clay soils of vineyards with altitudes between 150m and 300m. 2016 was hotter than usual, and the fruit were picked a little earlier to protect against the heat. The wine’s floral perfume and soft tannins are reminiscent of a top Burgundy, while its expressive red fruit core channels a Central Otago spirit. $90, from Stellez Vine. Tel: 9756 4509
WEINGUT RUDOLF FÜRST, CENTGRAFENBURG SPÄTBURGUNDER 2014
Franconia, Germany German Pinot Noirs or Spätburgunders (sometimes shortened to ‘Spats’ in vino conversations) from regions like Ahr, Baden and Franconia have been giving their Burgundian counterparts a run for their money. German winemakers are taking a ‘less is more’ approach, reducing yields and using a gentler extraction to create fresh, elegant Pinots. Others like Franconia-based Weingut Rudolf Fürst are picking the fruit a little earlier to keep its natural acidity. The winery’s flagship Centgrafenburg Spätburgunder Grosses Gewachs (German First Growth) 2014 has shades of a feminine Chambolle-Musigny, thanks to its rich bouquet of red fruit, figs and white petals, and a satin-smooth finish.
From Wein & Vin. Tel: 8828 3113
FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA, DIRECTOR’S CUT, RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY PINOT NOIR 2016
Sonoma County, California Francis Ford Coppola, director of the critically acclaimed The
Godfather trilogy, doesn’t need to get behind the camera to make you an offer you can’t refuse. The grizzled auteur has been involved in the wine business for 40 years, first purchasing the Napa-based Inglenook winery in 1975 before setting up his eponymous winery in Sonoma County in 2006.
The Director’s Cut, Russian River Valley Pinot Noir hails from an area regularly blanketed by fog from the Pacific. This phenomenon brings down daytime temperatures, extends the fruit’s growing season, and builds its acidity. The Russian River Pinot has a delicious red cherry core, slightly soft tannins and flirty minerally touches. There’s a Beaujolais-like bubble gum flavour that accompanies its finish, like a youth with a little attitude. We’d age this youngling for another five to ten years to let it mellow. $75, from Hermitage Quality Wines. Tel: 6438 1120
BURN COTTAGE VINEYARD, PINOT NOIR 2015
Central Otago, New Zealand Central Otago’s Pinot Noirs rarely let us down, and this was another hit. We finished this bottle of silky ambrosia in one night, without any food pairing. Primary notes of rose and strawberries give way to savoury accents of mushrooms, dried leaves and cedar. Acidity is firm, wrapping around the flavours like a coil. A subtle note of Earl Grey tea emerges when the wine is left to breathe. Established in 2002, Burn Cottage Vineyard is a 24-hectare estate located in the foothills of the Pisa range of mountains. The winery makes only Pinot Noir and Grüner Veltliner; a streamlined focus that has clearly paid off. This is one winery to watch. $88, from 1855 The Bottle Shop. Tel: 6251 1855