Thursday, July 25, 2019

Bass Phillip 2017 Releases

I had an opportunity to taste the highly anticipated 2017 releases from Bass Phillip yesterday, in their first showing. The line-up did not disappoint.

The Chardonnays are quite different from the Australian norm, or any norm for that matter, and it takes a bit of time to get your head around it. The 2017 Estate Chardonnay has its focus on texture. There are nutty characters on the palate, cashew and almond, and if you want to describe fruit, you would pick white peach. There is not much of citrus and the acidity is subdued. It reminds me of a Rhone white (92 points).

The 2017 Premium Chardonnay, from a different vineyard, has similar characteristics, but is more intense, and more elegant at the same time. The 100% new oak in which the wine was matured is only lightly toasted and provides some softening and balance, not really flavour. The wine has a long acid profile along the palate and great energy towards the finish. This is quite an exceptional wine (95 points).

Bass Phillip has two main Pinot Noir vineyards. The  smaller home vineyard, 40 years old, and the Leongatha vineyard, 20 years old. The fruit sourcing has recently changed a little bit. The 2017 Crown Prince Pinot Noir remains the work horse of the Leongatha vineyard. The aromatics on the bouquet are very intense and complex. The complexity continues on the palate and is a major departure from previous years. Dark cherry and forest floor notes dominate. There is also some Asian spice. The wine has more power on the back, and remains strong on its fruit flavours. Silky tannins round out the picture (93 points).

The 2017 Estate Pinot Noir is now a blended wine from the two vineyards mentioned above. Basically, more fruit from the home vineyard goes into the Premium, so the Estate is supplemented with the best fruit from Leongatha. This has not at all diminished the quality of this wine. It has a similar profile to the Crown Prince, with strawberry flavours and olive notes in addition. The purity of this wine is excellent. It is very harmonious and elegant. This wine is quite open now and very long on the finish (97 points).

The 2017 Premium Pinot Noir is more closed now. It seems a bit meaner and leaner, but the fruit intensity is very high, easily covering the 100% new oak. This wine goes on and on. In fact I experienced something most unusual on the finish: the flavours seemed to finish, but suddenly came back. This wine clearly has what is termed a 'peacock's tail', an expanding finish in the mouth found in some Burgundy grand crus. This wine needs to be cellared for at least seven years in order to experience all its components more fully (98 points). 

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