In my town, in Sydney, you could go to wine tastings three or four times a week However, you could count really good comparative tastings on one hand in a year. One of those is Pinot Noir Australia by The Woollahra Hotel. Current releases from almost all the major Pinot Noir producers are available for tasting. Notable absentees this year were Bindi and Bass Phillip.
In this post, I will give some general impressions, part 2 will have individual reviews.
1) The 2011 vintage is really not good. The wines from it are light and watery (this is Pinot Noir, and probably all reds). Sure, you may find the odd well structured wine, but wouldn't a producer who is capable of doing this, produce a much better wine in 2010 or 2012?
2) The Mornington Peninsula wines, which I have always regarded as Shiraz drinkers' Pinot Noirs because of their deep colour and cherry/plum flavours, are generally lighter and more structured now and more varied, depending on producer and location.
3) There is no particular trend. We seem to be still in an experimentation phase. Tasting profiles of brands change. Australian Pinot Noir has overcome its 'fruity' phase, but I would like to see more expanding finishes of the wines - which is the whole reason for the wide Pinot Noir glasses.
4) The more expensive reserve style or single block wines are often not better. They tend to be more elegant, but often less expressive. Character or personality in the wine is shaved off. Price is a function of volume in this case.
So there you have it. Reviews to follow.