Two weeks ago, I had the privileged task of judging the Australian Pinot Noir Challenge with four (very) esteemed colleagues on the Mornington Peninsula. We tasted over 200 of Australia’s best Pinot Noir wines in two days, and narrowed the field to 17 gold medals, of which 5 were trophies for their best of region. This week we are offering a mixed pack of my three top golds. Two of these took out trophies for their best of region, whilst the other, widely regarded as one of Australia’s best wines, was just pipped for its regions best wine. The wines are;
- Dirty Three ‘Dirt 3’ Pinot Noir 2018 – Gippsland, VIC
- Tolpuddle Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018 – Coal River, TAS
- Giants Steps ‘Primavera Vineyard’ 2018 – Yarra Valley, 2018
These wines are all single vineyard wines, from three great vineyards and great regions of Pinot Noir in Australia. The winemakers, Marcus Satchell, Adam Wadewitz and Gary Flamsteed, are names to be familiar with when it comes to handling and expressing this fickle grape. 2018 was a strong year for Pinot in Australia, a generous vintage with some fruit power, structure and elegance. All of these wines displayed pure fruit, finesse, fragrance and restrained power… hallmarks for quality wines. They are all medium bodied with solid intensity, though the Giant Steps is considerably lighter in the glass.
We’re excited to offer this bunch of wines in this format. We’re confident they are a trio of some of the Australia's best Pinot Noir’s you will find from the 2018 vintage, wines that express their vintage and regions. The wines are all very limited in production, and as such, we will only offer six packs this week. We hope you enjoy, and please shout out with any questions.
Dirty Three ‘Dirt 3’ Pinot Noir 2018
This won the trophy for best Pinot Noir for Gippsland in 2018, with three other golds in the region. Gippsland is an underrated, cool (climate) and exciting area for Pinot Noir; specifically, the area where this vineyard is, in Leongatha South, close to the revered Bass Phillip vineyard. The wine is a ‘barrel selection’ of this vineyard, with only 100 cases being produced. It has density, structure and power for Pinot Noir, with a darker cherry/ spice combination. It has the most muscle of the three wines in the pack, with generous fruit, but also ability to age. I would say 3 to 5 years is the sweet spot for this wine. Planted in 1998.
Tolpuddle Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018
Is this the most exciting terroir in Australia? It is taking the notice of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir lovers the world over, and especially here in Australia. This Pinot has quickly become one of the most collected red wines in Australia, thanks to the formidable team at Shaw + Smith. Everything they do is quality, but the Tolpuddle project has taken them to new heights. They purchased the vineyard in the early 2010’s and have been releasing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from it since 2012. The last few years have seen quality soar, with international press following.
It is the classiest and finest of all three in the pack. Classic Pinot Noir perfumes with sweet plum, red cherry, violets, rose, fresh green herbs and some Chinese spice. The palate is supple, but coiled tight to the finish, with an elegant and tightly framed depth of fruit and tannin that is all silk and class. An awesome wine that will go 10 years and shouldn't be touched for at least two more, if you can resist. It has a 95 from James Suckling, and there is no doubt loftier scores will follow. Vineyard planted in 1988.
Giant Steps ‘Primavera Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2018
After a quick chat to Steve Flamsteed, you want to stop talking and just taste his wine. His passion for honest wine is infectious, his approach is soulful, knowledgeable and intuitive, and he is crafting some of the highest quality ‘minimal intervention’ wines in Australia. Steve is in the Yarra Valley, where he has been the head winemaker of estate Giants Steps since 2003 (read more here: https://www.australianwine.com/en-AU/our-makers/steve-flamsteed). His wines and authentic approach recently earned him the GT gong of Winemaker of the Year, joining an illustrious list.
The Primavera Vineyard is in Woori Yallock, which is considered ‘Upper Yarra’, being slightly higher and cooler than Coldstream and Healesville. This wine is the lightest of the three in the pack, but the perfume is wild, with red fruits, dry herbs, pepper, spices and orange oil aromas. The flavor haunts, long on the palate with a lively acidity. It has energy and length that its colour does not suggest. A bone-like minerality as well. It doesn’t have the stuffing of the other two, but intrigue, personality and poise. This won the trophy for best Pinot of the Yarra Valley. Vineyard planted in 2001.