Friday, August 7, 2009

Bass Phillip Pinot Noir

Not often does one have a chance to taste several of Phillip Jones' Pinot Noirs accompanied by his always very interesting and insightful comments.

Several years ago, Bass Phillip branched out into a number of different labels from contractor fruit from the area. The wines did not reach the same quality, and last night I learnt that Phillip Jones has given up making wines from contractor fruit, probably because it was risking the brand image.

We drank the last wine made in this way, the 2007 Bass Phillip Old Cellar Pinot Noir. The wine had lovely flavour, but a fairly short finish. One for drinking now.

Then it was on to the levels 2-4 of the wines from his own vinyards. the 2008 Crown Prince Pinot Noir was only just bottled. It showed ripe and plummy flavours; not a very big wine and quite tannic and acidic.

Then it went a real step up and the burgundian flavours and texture started to show. First, the 2006 21 Pinot Noir. In 2006, no premium or reserve wines were bottled and it was the winery's 21st birthday, therefore the name and a wine comprising all of the Bass Phillip fruit. This wine was of medium weight, strawberry fruit flavours and secondary characteristics starting to show, like mushroom and spice, before fanning out to a steely finish. For me, the typical Bass Phillip characteristics, very soft texture, a big mouthfeel and super silky tannins started to show.

The 2007 Estate Pinot Noir again is not big, but has intense flavours and a very long fine finish. While Philip gave the 21 only a lifespan of 5-7 years, he predicted more than 10 years for this wine and was reporting that the early wines he made 20 years ago are drinking really well now. These are low alcohol wines, not overly tannic, but with a fair bit of acidity.

The 2007 Premium Pinot Noir was a similar wine, yet the fruit showed more concentration and the flavour spectrum goes from strawberry to more cherry flavours.

Phillip Jones' wines have always been very naturally made and he has followed biodynamic principles for a number of years. I believe it shows in the wines freshness and complexity. I am starting to warm to this approach, I must say. Phillip told me that in order to express 'terroir', biodynamic principles should be applied. He has noticed that in this way a lot more minerals and soil components are absorbed in the wine. Interesting.

It was a standout tasting by one of Australia's icon wine makers. If you can (it comes in very small volume) grab some of his wine, you will not regret it.

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