And so to the final instalment of our series of great wines to mark Saturday’s International Pinot Noir Day.
I’ll start by saying that my late father-in-law insisted one should “never underestimate the value of time in the market”.
Now I’ve been around great wine for nearly 40 years and I guess one of the benefits of that is I’ve met a few wine folk along the way and a mutual understanding has been arrived at re standards. I’m also in the fortunate position where my editor is an overworked kindly soul, who – within reason – will let me write on whatever viiously takes my fancy at any point in time.
I’m sharing the above with you because I’ll only request samples of wines I think will be up to this standard so if you do send me something unsolicited for review, thank you and please make sure it’s good.
Secondly, and more importantly for you dear reader, is that if you worry that I’m an easy touch for a high score, I can assure you I’m not. In fact I’m apoplectic at the Australian epidemic that is “points creep”.
Simply, I only review wines that I really enjoy, and which in effect at a minimum, would earn a strong silver medal score or better on our show circuit.
The three wines that follow are essentially as good as it gets within their respective price points and origins. It was a joy to first taste, and then drink them. All nine wines from this pinot noir tasting are well worth seeking out.
2014 Gerard Mugneret Vosne Romanee A.C.
Burgundy, France. RRP $140
The name Mugneret features regularly in the Cote D’or; it’s not quite Smith or Jones however it’s around the place.
This is from a Mugneret I was not familiar with. Story is that Pascal Mugneret took over the winemaking baton from his father Rene in the early 2000’s and his first vintage with command of the wheel was in 2005, a pretty handy way to start.
This village Vosne comes from 15 different parcels, most of which have vine age between 40 and 50 years. About 20% is whole bunch fermented, that number varying according to the characteristics of the vintage.
Quite intense dark red appearance, the cool punchy bouquet exhibits distinct fruit notes of blackcurrant pastille with a touch of cream and with a background of iodine and menthol.
The vigorous, shapely palate is really up and about with its attack of complex red fruits leading to a muscular, tight mid-palate with ripe fruit-coated tannins to close. Have no doubt that while still in its infancy this wine would benefit from several hours decanting. For the cellar.
2016 Farrside by Farr Pinot Noir
Geelong, Victoria. RRP $90
They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Thank the Lord that held true in regards to winemaking and viticulture with Nick Farr, who followed in the amply-sized footsteps of father Gary.
No doubt in my mind that Gary, along with Philip Jones (see below) represent the greatest body of work in this country for quality and innovation with pinot noir, and clearly a lot of Dad’s vinous IP was generously passed along. Bless him.
Vibrant mid red appearance, an absolutely textbook bouquet which leaps from the glass with perfume of crushed chilled red berries (50% whole bunch ferment), menthol notes, and a suave note of new oak.
(Judicious new oak influence is to great pinot noir fruit like Issy Miyake is to a model )
The palate seduces with the vital, complex fresh fruit exploding in the mouth with fresh, plush fruit flavours which just build and build through the middle palate until savoury notes of sous bois kick in and intersect with perfectly ripe red and dark blue fruit notes, all sailing on to a long, glorious finish underpinned by seamless sour-cherry acidity. Brilliant juice.
2016 Bass Phillip “Premium” Pinot Noir
Leongatha, Gippsland, Victoria. RRP $220
Philip Jones – previously mentioned above – and his wines, have for more than 30 years occupied the vanguard in Australia with pinot noir. During that period, both winemaker and the wines have often astonished with their respective complexities and idiosyncrasies, and while there are many great BP’s from decades past, I’ve no doubt that what we have seen from the estate over the last 10 years represents the work of a winemaker at the peak of his powers.
Before tasting the 2016, I thought I’d tune up by revisiting the 1994 “Premium”, which I served blind to some handy palates. On tasting, when asked about origin, all were in the Cote de Nuits and rapturous in their praise for its style, complexity, vigour and sheer satisfaction. At just on 24 years of age, the ’94 Premium was in full voice, pitch perfect.
As for the 2016, the palate has extraordinary elegance and is a textbook example of how power and intensity can be concomitant with a medium bodied framework. The flavours are all gentle, caressing red fruits which are wrapped tightly around a mineral ball of muscle of great length and intensity.
This wine is the antithesis of “trickiness” or “in your face” and is not for pinot noir newbies as the nuances and complexities will go unappreciated. (I’d add that Romanée Conti itself would be misunderstood by a neophyte pinot noir/Burgundy drinker, including the price).
If the Farrside above is evocative of Gevrey/Morey, this is Vosne in all its glory. Brilliant juice.
* Frank Wilden is a retail food strategist and a “lapsed” restaurateur whose love of wine began nearly four decades ago.
Frank is writing this regular wine column for Business Insider Australia. If you have wines you’d like him to try for this column, contact him touch with him via @thefrankreport on Twitter
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