When it comes to Pinot Noir, Australia’s cooler climate regions are turning out quality expressions to rival some of the world’s best.
Winemakers love a challenge, and there is no doubt that Pinot Noir is a challenging grape to grow.
It’s also a challenging wine to make, requiring careful handling. And while Australian winemakers haven’t had the centuries-long experience with the variety that winemakers of Burgundy have enjoyed, there’s no question they’ve absorbed the lessons of that famed region’s approach to the grape.
Pinot is very much a ‘just-right’ kind of grape, needing good soils, even temperatures, and a certain level of dappled sunlight.
Here in Australia, cooler climate regions have proven themselves marvellously compatible with Pinot Noir, and years of experimentation have resulted in a clutch of wine regions that do it about as well as anywhere else in the world.
The Apple Isle is blessed with climatic conditions that are almost custom-made for the production of premium Pinot Noir grapes.
Pristine waters, agreeable soils and temperate conditions all contribute to beautifully expressive fruit that results in fragrant yet elegant Pinot Noir of nuanced yet satisfying flavour.
The variety makes up almost half of Tasmania’s total wine production, and names like Josef Chromy and Son of a Bull – among others – have ensured that the region’s reputation for quality Pinot Noir has been rigorously upheld.
2. YARRA VALLEY (VICTORIA)
Without question, Pinot Noir is a standout among Yarra Valley wines, and the most-planted variety in the region.
The sublime environment and many micro-climates of Victoria’s original wine region results in a spectrum of premium Pinot Noir styles, from light, fragrant and fruity to savoury and structured.
Established producers like Rochford rub shoulders with smaller, boutique wineries like Helen’s Hill and others, all turning out Pinot Noir of benchmark quality in Australian wine.
3. ADELAIDE HILLS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA)
This charming, cooler climate South Australian wine region has long held a reputation for the quality of its Pinot Noir.
Indeed, of all South Australia’s regions, it is the pre-eminent area for the production of the variety.
Similar to the Yarra Valley, the abundance of growing sites and aspects results in a diversity of styles, from the savoury and herbaceous to ripe, vibrant and fruity.
Notable producers like Zilzie and younger producers like Pike & Joyce are among the standard-bearers for Adelaide Hills Pinot, which is regularly regarded as some of the best Australian Pinot available.
4. GREAT SOUTHERN (WESTERN AUSTRALIA)
While relatively young compared to other wine regions, Great Southern’s ascendancy has been rapid and assured despite its geographical isolation.
Its five sub-regions have each begun to carve out identities of their own with cooler climate wines that have wowed judges for years now.
Pioneers like Forest Hill and Plantagenet in Mount Barker, as well as Wignalls in Albany and Apricus Hill in Denmark, have taken advantage of the agreeable mild summer conditions, seabreeze influences and varied soil-types to produce premium Pinot Noir that ranges from rich and fruit-driven to lighter, primary fruit styles.
This month from Wine Cellar