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Pinot Noir Benchmark Tasting

When reading the June/July issue of Gourmet Traveller WINE Magazine I noticed for the first time that the magazine conduct regular tastings that readers can attend simply by booking & paying $40. Upon seeing there was a such tasting being conducted focussed on Pinot Noir from Victoria I felt compelled to attend as it would give me a unique opportunity to taste benchmark wines prior to the release of my 2011 ODEON Pinot Noir (Lenswood, Adelaide Hills). 


When: Tuesday 26th June 2012
Where: The Carlton Wine Room
Who: Gourmet Traveller WINE & Hosted by Nick Ryan.
Why: $40 to taste 9 benchmark Australian (Victorian) Pinot Noir is a lot cheaper than buying a bottle of each. 

It was a very interesting night of tasting with several winemakers in attendance. Not only did I find the tasting extremely valuable for benchmarking my own wines, I also found the shared opinions of those attending really beneficial. Below is a list of the wines & my tasting notes. Note: The room was dark so there are no notes on colour - except that as everyone already knows - colour is irrelevant in Pinot Noir. 

As for the issue of clones - always a hot topic with Pinot Noir - in almost all cases the wines below were reported to be 100% MV6. It took 14 minutes for someone to raise the concept of clones in the discussion - a bit surprising.

For the sake of completeness, both Pinot Noir wines I produce are sourced from the D5V12 clone. If that means nothing to you, don't worry, you're amongst the majority. 


Wine 1 - 2010 Quely Seventeen Rows Pinot Noir - Balnarring, Mornington Peninsula

Spiky VA lift up front. Brooding - the wine has an intensity unfamiliar with Pinot Noir. Walking a line of tension with a fruit profile of cherry & herb. Not immediately bright & distinctly varietal but like a middle aged man driving a convertible with the room up in summer, you feel like it's hiding something...  


Wine 2 - 2010 Sticks No. 29 Pinot Noir - Yarra Valley

Sulphidic, struck match complexity lift on the nose indicating some fun was had with barrel fermentation. Palate is juicy, lively & fleshy. Berry fruit flavours surrounding a nice acidity however the finish appeared to show a sticky sweetness. 


Wine 3 - 2011 Medhurst Pinot Noir - Yarra Valley

Lovely floral & spice aromas. Tight. A very nervous wine - it seems to be keeping a secret that will be revealed in years to come. As 2011 was a cooler, high acid year, I suspect this will be very rewarding of careful cellaring. 


Wine 4 - 2010 De Bortoli Reserve Release Pinot Noir - Yarra Valley

Best wine of the first bracket. Perfume, layered, plump in the mouth. Tannin profile of this wine is the highlight, velvety but assertive. Masculine Pinot Noir from the Yarra Valley!


Wine 5 - 2008 Lethbridge Mietta Pinot Noir - Geelong

Funky town! Seduction in the unique profile of dark fruit & earth.  Beautifully lifted aromatics. Maintained it’s very drying tannins. 


Wine 6 - 2010 Dromana Estate Pinot Noir - Mornington Peninsula

Delicate & varietal. A great stepping off point for textbook Mornington Pinot. Expressive of the variety, clean & fresh, aromatic. Medium intensity across the board with a straight line finish. 


Wine 7 - 2010 Montalto Pinot Noir - Mornington Peninsula

Lovely SPICE on the nose. Very up front. Palate evolves with juicy, sweet fruit on the darker edge of the fruit profile. Ripe dark cherry & dark chocolate. 

Great complexity in an unrelenting palate. Goes on & on & on. 


Wine 8 - 2009 Paringa Estate Pinot Noir - Mornington Peninsula

DEPTH. Has a depth & intensity that is so intense it is very unnerving. 

“Brawny” single vineyard - masculine. Layer upon layer of interest. Dark brooding fruit, tobacco, spice, toast. 


Wine 9 - 2010 Stonier Reserve Pinot Noir - Mornington Peninsula

Spice, struck match complexity, savoury lift & some spicy cherry. Fresh with a touch of floral delicatness on the nose. Palate is layered, wine builds & builds through the length of the palate. 

Oh & yes, I snuck my wines into the tasting so I could compare... 


Wine 10 - 2011 Vinteloper Pinot Noir - Adelaide Hills

Excellent varietal expression on the nose with a peak of light coloured red fruit - strawberry, fresh cherry. On the palate, length, juicy but with nice acid line with balance maintained. 

Does show a lifted vanilla on the nose which can dominate the perfume of the varietal character however this appears to blow off with time. 

The lift of aroma is a peak in this line up. 


Wine 11 - 2011 Vinteloper ODEON Pinot Noir - Lenswood, Adelaide Hills

Shows delicate varietal character and has a low intensity front & middle palate but it explodes on the finish - back palate intensity is impressive - the wine "flares out like a peacocks tail". 

Compared to the other pinot in the lineup, this wine has a peak of bright fresh red fruit that the others, particularly Mornington Peninsula do not have. It also demonstrates a higher intensity of floral aromatics over the spice, sweet red fruit & toast. 

It’s a ballet dancer - it’s up on it’s toes - it has tension. 

Tobacco, strawberries & cream, cherry, great acidity. 

Bright red fruit. 

I hope you've found some value in my notes (should you have read this far!)

Comments are welcome - email david at or hit me on twitter @Vinteloper




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