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Vines were first planted in the Clare Valley by John Horrocks in 1840 and expanded until around 1903. A resurgence of interest in the 1980s saw a similar expansion of wineries and large investments. Located north west of the Barossa Valley at a slightly higher altitude, the Clare Valley’s typography consists of a series of broken valleys, hills and gullies. The best sites are orientated west, at higher altitude, and the soils have significant limestone components. The most important sub districts of the southern Clare Valley are the two distinct sub-regions of Water Vale and Polish Hill River. The areas of Leasingham, Watervale and Auburn with soils of predominantly rich red clay and loam over limestone. Polish Hill River on the other hand is slightly cooler, thus ripening up to five weeks later.
While the majority of vines planted are red with Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz leading the way, paradoxically, Clare is perhaps best known for Riesling; the most planted white variety. Clare Shiraz is full bodied, dense and powerful, with notes of ripe fruits and characteristically powerful tannins, outstanding producers are Wendouree, Gaelic Cemetery and the Jim Barry Armagh. Clare Cabernet is similarly powerful, with firm but ripe tannins. Outstanding producers are Knappstein, Leasingham, Taylors and Wendouree.
Riesling is the most internationally recognised variety of the Clare Valley and is dry, with distinct floral and citrus (lemon and lime zest) characters and good acidity which develop into complex toasty characters with extended bottle age. The two districts of Polish Hill River and Watervale differ in their expressions of Riesling, with Watervale Riesling slightly softer and more floral than the intense, concentrated Polish Hill River wines. The Clare Valley is the heart of Australian Riesling production and the wines are unique among the Rieslings of the world and extraordinarily long lived and incredible value. Outstanding producers include Grosset, Mount Horrocks, O’Leary Walker and Pikes, though this is by no means and exhaustive list. Clare Riesling producers were at the forefront of the screwcap revolution when a number of them decided to bottle their 1999 Rieslings under screwcap.
James Halliday's Wine Atlas of Australia, James Halliday
The Oxford Companion to Wine, (ed) Jancis Robinson
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Sato Northburn Pinot Noir 2018From the Northburn Station vineyard on a lakeside terrace, this sees no whole-bunch or new oak. Only 20 barrels were made.
This is a fragrant and lithely composed pinot with an underlying power that drives the wine. Its sinewy structure is laden with maraschino cherries, plums are rosemary tones. While it feels light and fluid on the palate, it doesn't forsake flavour. Its perceived fragility is beguiling. Fine and sleek tannins sign off the wine. An eloquent expression of Central Otago pinot. GABRIELLE POY, PWS
2018Pinot noirNew Zealand373$68.00 As low as $61.20
Charteris The Winter Vineyard Otago Pinot Noir 2014Only 250 dozen produced and held in the winery for five years. From patches of deeper soil on the vineyard 36% whole bunch, 64% whole berry. Juicy plum and cherry fruit has a plushness along with the Charteris hallmark of elegance. (97) JAMES HALLIDAY
Punchy, oak-laden, chewy pinot of vin de garde, long cellaring feel. Restrained, tight, quietly powerful. Charming in tannins, ripples of understated dark cherry fruit, ferrous character and earthiness on the quiet. Some savouriness and malt creeping in. Feels like it needs some more time. MIKE BENNIE, The Wine Front2014Pinot noirNew Zealand373$71.00 As low as $63.90
Sato Northburn Pinot Noir 20162018Pinot noirNew Zealand373$73.00 As low as $65.70
Valli Bannockburn Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018
Fragrant, appealing aroma with quite a floral and violet emphasis, while the palate was more savoury with crushed herb and grape stems adding extra interest to cherry and berry flavours. An ethereal wine with a backbone of fine tannins - should age well BOB CAMPBELL MW
The rich and fleshy red plums here are irresistible, as are the aromas of ripe red cherries and raspberries with a perfumed, grassy and spicy edge. This has such appealing and succulent style that it will be really hard not to drink now. JAMES SUCKLING
The 2018 Bannockburn Vineyard Pinot Noir features slightly chunkier fruit than found in Valli's bottlings from cooler regions (Waitaki, Gibbston). That may actually appeal more to consumers looking for a slightly bigger, richer style of Pinot Noir. Black cherries and notes of baking spices are framed by ripe tannins and crisp acids, and there's just a suggestion of cedary oak (it was aged in 30% new French pièces). It's smooth and supple on the finish, making it approachable now, yet it should age well for a decade or so. WINE ADVOCATE2018Pinot noirNew Zealand373$85.00 As low as $76.50
Valli Bendigo Vineyard Pinot Noir 2019Distinctive, powerful, ripe, pure and intriguing. Punnets of raspberries and black current, wild thyme and rocky countryside scents. Baking spices of oak and toasty wood, then dark velvet roses. Tense and dry, taut and fruity, very young and tight in texture. Fruit flavours mirror the nose, tannins are firm and chalky, acidity in abundance. A fantastic wine but needs to be cellared to develop more complexity and fuse the attributes together. Best drinking 2024 through 2034+ (96) CAMERON DOUGLAS MW2019Pinot noirNew Zealand373$85.00 As low as $80.00
Valli Burn Cottage Vineyard Pinot Noir 20192019Pinot noirNew Zealand373$85.00 As low as $80.00
Two Paddocks The Last Chance Pinot Noir 20182018Pinot noirNew Zealand373$95.00 As low as $85.50
Felton Road Cornish Point Pinot Noir 20202020Pinot noirNew Zealand373$110.00 As low as $99.00
Valli Row 36 Pinot Noir 2019 1500ml2019Pinot noirNew Zealand373$255.00 As low as $229.50