Monday, September 5, 2016

34 Pinot Noirs

This annual Pinot Noir tasting in Sydney tends to give a good overview of the state of the nation as far as Pinot Noir is concerned. Unfortunately, this year, a number of the big names were missing. Still, when you have the option to taste 150 wines in a couple of hours, I tend to drift to the better known wines, where I can expect good results. I should do it differently next time and seek out the unknowns who's bottles don't even get opened - sad.

There was one wine which stood head and shoulders above the others. This was the 2014 By Farr Farrside Pinot Noir. This is a very complete wine, with dark fruit, very silky, with soft notes, but a firm finish. This is now the best By Farr wine (96 points).

In the bracket of outstanding wines (93/94 points) were
- 2014 By Farr Sangreal ( quite powerful, with overt cherry flavours, silky tannins)
- 2014 Lerida 'Josephine' (relatively light, strawberry and earth, long finish)
- 2012 Glaetzer-Dixon 'Reveur' (good intensity, mushroom notes, lively)
- 2012 Bannockburn 'Serre' (black cherry, silky, good length)
- 2015 Soumah 'Equilibrio' (strawberry flavours, quite ripe and silky)

In the next bracket (90-92 points) were a number of well known wines. They were good wines, but either had no feature that stood out (like the Curly Flat), or some detracting aspect (like the Paringa Estate). I put in this group the 2013 Curly Flat, 2014 Lerida Estate 'Cullerin', 2013 Stonier Reserve, 2014 Oakridge 864, 2015 Marchand & Burch 'Mt Barrow', 2012 Paringa Estate, 2013 Bannockburn Estate, 2015 Garagiste 'Balnarring',  2012 Savaterre (could have gone in the group above), 2015 Farr Rising, 2013 Brokenwood 'Indigo Vineyard', 2015 Holm Oak (outstanding fresh fruit), 2014 Shaw & Smith.

I rated the following wines a bit below this group (89 points): 2011 Curly Flat, 2013 Yering Station Estate, 2014 Scorpo, 2013 Picardy, 2013 Gembrook Hill, 2013 Moorooduc Estate 'Garden Vineyard', 2013 Yeringberg (disappointing!).

The disappointing wines (85-88 points), given their reputation, were
- 2014 Ashton Hills Reserve (lacking structure)
- 2015 William Downie Gippsland (juice, fault in winemaking or bottle?)
- 2014 Freycinet Estate (fruity)
- 2013 Kooyong Estate 'Haven' (drowning in sulphur)
- 2014 Holyman (unbalanced and thin)
- 2013 Moss Wood (why do they stick with it in Margaret River?)
- 2014 Pooley 'Butchers Hill' (too sweet)

A caveat to these rankings: the tasting was in a crowded room, the glasses were small and there was not much time.

With a couple of exceptions, there were no lolly water Pinot Noirs. These times are thankfully over. Given the line-up, I had expected a few more examples of truly outstanding wines with great personality. Usually, in large tastings like this, I do a taste-off with my three or four favorites. I was not inspired to do that this time. Power in the Pinots has been scaled back, which is a good thing, but now that many winemakers have mastered the art, they seem to go for 'safety first'.    

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