This is another good 10X pinot noir release from Ten Minutes by Tractor on the Mornington Peninsula. This leading producer always offers a wealth of useful regional vintage information. Specifically, the 2018 vintage saw a late budburst (20 September – two weeks later than 2016), a warm spring, perfect conditions at flowering (24 November compared with 11 November in 2016 and 5 December in 2017) and consequent good yields coupled with an early harvest (17 March, compared with 1 April in 2016). Overall, it was 10X Tractor’s shortest ever hang time of 179 days from budburst to harvest.
In the glass, the 2018 10X pinot noir is a vivid red in colour, and has a smokey, minerally aroma. The palate is quite fruity, with good length, and displays a balanced expression of cherries and spice. It gained complexity with time in the glass – a good sign. Overall, this is a good release that can be approached now. Rating: Good. Abv: 13%. Price: $34. Website: www.tenminutesbytractor.com.au. Source: Sample.
This wine from Domaine Ponsot is in a very difficult stage of its development. It presents in a raw fashion, with very fruit driven aromas of cherry and blackcurrant and resounding acidity and hardness on the palate. It is quite a difficult wine to appreciate at this point, and needs at least a further decade of cellaring to even show its potential. I don’t think decanting will be sufficient to present it for current drinking. Reflecting on this wine across its dimensions of esteemed producer, great vintage and wonderful vineyard, it is difficult to recommend this wine at this stage. Oh well, someone has to try these wines. Sealed using the unusual Ardea seal. Rating: Good (in the future), Acceptable now. Abv: not recorded. Price: $300+. Website: http://www.domaine-ponsot.com.
I don’t normally post on non-vintage Champagnes, but the quality of this Charles Heidsieck wine was quite compelling. Golden in colour, it has an overt and rather delicious aroma of biscuit and yeast. The palate is dry, fresh, has racy acidity, together with definitive lemon and cedar notes. This is a very attractive, special occasion style Champagne, that presents excellent value at around $95. Rating: Very Good. Abv: not recorded. Price: $95. Website: https://charlesheidsieck.com/en.
This is an excellent pinot noir from Curly Flat in the Macedon Ranges and the 2017 vintage. It has a subtle and attractive aroma of rhubarb. The palate is restrained with racy acidity, but also has a plump cherry like viscosity. Burgundian in style, this is an excellent Villages level type pinot noir, that is ready to drink now. Rating: Good to Very Good. Abv: 13.3%. Price: $29. Website: https://www.curlyflat.com. Source: Sample.
This is a bright pinot noir from Castle Rock Estate in the Porongurup region in Western Australia. It has a primary fruited aroma of cherries and spice. There is evident CO2 on the palate, which complements its chirpy acidity and gentle cedar influence. Ready to drink now, this is an approachable wine. Rating: Good. Abv: 13%. Price $38. Website: https://castlerockestate.com.au. Source: Sample.
This is a delicious pinot noir from Curly Flat in the Macedon Ranges and the 2017 vintage. It has an attractive aroma of black currant, cherry and bacon. The palate has great length, cedar, considerable balance and a savoury, enjoyable mid palate. It actually reminds of a Côte de Nuits villages wine from a warmer vintage such as 2015. In terms of comparative pricing, it presents as a bargain and will suit drinking over the next 5 years. Rating: Very Good. Abv: 13.3%. Price: $52. Website: https://www.curlyflat.com. Source: Sample.
This is a sound pinot noir from De Bortoli in the Yarra Valley, and the 2018 vintage. It has aromas of cherry, raspberry and strawberry. The palate is balanced with fresh acidity. More pleasant than complex, this wine will suit consumption over the next couple of years. Rating: Good. Abv: 13.5%. Price: $20. Website: debortoli.com.au
With the 2019 harvest underway, I spent the morning in the winery at Helen & Joey in the Yarra Valley. Here are a few vineyard photographs and observations.
Photo above: East-west planted pinot noir, looking to the west.
Grafted merlot vines planted on north-south facing rows, and nearing harvest.
Phylloxera continues its march through the Yarra Valley. Replanting in a neighbouring vineyard in the distance on the left, together with seemingly declining vigour in the vineyard in the distance on the right.
No viticultural comment, but a nice view from the office. Mount Dandenong is the peak in the distance.
This is a very good pinot noir from Bernard Huber in Baden, Germany. Stylistically, it is much closer to Burgundy than new world pinot noir. Its aroma has herbal and cherry notes, and is both savoury and restrained. The palate has resolutely firm acidity and good length. Ready to drink now, this moreish pinot noir/spätburgunder may improve with with short cellaring. Rating: Good to Very Good. Abv: 13%. Price: $65. Website: na.
This is a good value Oregon pinot noir from Duck Pond. The aroma speaks only of pinot noir, and is Burgundian in character, with its notes of rhubarb, beetroot, cherry and cedar. The palate is slightly more full bodied, with good length and balance. Ready to drink now. Rating: Good to Very Good. Abv: 13.8%. Price: $30. Website: www.duckpondcellars.com
An independent Australian and international wine review. Since 2009.