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Part of the Port Philip zone which surrounds Melbourne, the Yarra Valley is located an hour outside Melbourne and is one of the most important fine wine growing regions in Australia. The Yarra Valley’s viticultural history extends back to 1838 when the Ryrie Brothers planted the first vineyards at what is now Yering Station, with the first vintage produced in 1845 by the legendary James Dardel. In 1863 Hubert de Castella established St Huberts Vineyards and Guillaume de Pury established Yeringberg, bringing the total area under vine to 430 acres. This trend continued with the establishment of Yeringa with David Mitchell planting vineyards at Stringybark Creek increasing the area under vine to 1000 acres. This period of growth was followed by a series of poor vintages and tough economic conditions which saw vineyard production completely cease by 1937.
The Yarra Valley’s modern renaissance began when Reg Egan planted Wantirna Estate in 1963 and was followed in the late 1960s and early 1970s by Mount Mary, Yeringberg, Yarra Yering, St Huberts, Seville Estate, Yarra Burn, Chateaux Yeringa (now de Bortoli) and others, From the this period through to the late 1990’s investment and expansion continued, with the majority of wineries small, quality conscious, boutique producers of top quality wine which fetched appropriate prices. The latter period of the 1990’s saw large scale corporate investment, with Moet & Chandon establishing Domaine Chandon alongside acquisitions by Mildara Blass, McWilliams, Hardys and others.
The Yarra Valley is a diverse and cool climate region with a lower average growing temperature than both Bordeaux and Burgundy, the principle white variety is Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, while the red varieties that the region is renowned for are Cabernet Sauvignon (with associated Bordeaux varieties of Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc) which helped put the Yarra Valley on the map followed by Pinot Noir which arrived en masse in the 1980s and followed more recently by Shiraz (which is sometimes blended with Viognier). Both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are also cultivated as sparkling base. Interestingly, vineyards planted in the cool, upper Yarra Valley for the production of sparkling wine are now being used for table wines. Whether it’s global warming or just that recent vintages have been warmer, there is little doubt that the Upper Yarra including places such as Hoddles Creek and other sub-districts such as Woori Yallock have really come into their own over the last 5-10 years.
Chardonnay styles vary across winemakers and site, with a distinctive aromatic profile of melon and fig in warmer sites and white peach and grapefruit from cooler vineyards. Both styles are characterised by good acidity. Outstanding producers include Oakridge, Toolangi, Coldstream Hills, de Bortoli, Giant Steps, Mac Forbes and Hoddles Creek. The Yarra Valley is one of the first Australian regions to establish Pinot Noir of high regard, with notes of plum, cherry and strawberry and a characteristic underlying sappy acidity and fine soft tannins. Outstanding producers include de Bortoli, Coldstream Hills, Giant Steps and Mount Mary and Wedgetail. Yarra Valley Cabernet is almost always blended with traditional Bordeaux varieties and is characterised as a medium bodied wine, elegant, with notes of cassis, hay, tobacco leaf, fine silky tannins and remarkable longevity. Outstanding producers include Mount Mary, Yarra Yarra, Yeringberg, Wantirna Estate. Shiraz is less prevalent in the Yarra Valley and highly dependent on vineyard location favouring warmer growing conditions. Increasingly producers are following the Northern Rhone Cote Rotie blend by adding small quantities of Viognier for added colour and aromatic lift. Classic Yarra Valley Shiraz is almost always of a cool climate style with notes of pepper, black cherry and spice with fine silky tannins. Outstanding producers include Yering Station, de Bortoli, Jamsheed, Yarra Yarra and recently Serrat.
The Oxford Companion to Wine, (ed) Jancis Robinson
James Hallidays Wine Atlas of Australian, James Halliday
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Applecross Pinot Noir 2018The Applecross wines are always lovely… it has to be said, in the overall scheme, they represent outstanding value. These are wines to latch onto.
This 2018 Pinot is dry and twiggy but the fruit is there, all juicy and jaunty, with cranberry aspects in with the red cherry, and a sheet of spice-studded tannin extending from the mid-palate onwards. There's a touch of Aussie Bush Spice to the highlights here but the shadows are alive with complex flavour. This is one of those lighter styles of pinot that the Yarra does so well. Yes. This is good. CAMPBELL MATTINSON, The Wine Front
Once again this is a ripper. I love the Chard but it is really hard to go past this. Fragrant, spicy, red fruited and enticing. I love the sense of appeal here, it's a Pinot I want to smell and taste as it unfurls in the glass. It's graceful and poised in its buoyant delivery of almost juicy, red berry fruit that is tinged by faint elements of spice and underbrush all encompassed with super fine, filigreed tannins that stop it from wandering in to the realms of quaffable, which is a shame really, the wine is so pleasurable now that I just want to drink it with abandon but there is a serious aspect to it that keeps me intrigued and focused. Wonderful. Gorgeous stuff. ROSCOE
2018Pinot noirAustralia506$50.00 As low as $45.00
Riorret The Lusatia Park Vineyard Pinot Noir 20192015Pinot noirAustralia506$50.00 As low as $45.00
Applecross Pinot Noir 2019A light garnet hue, beguiling and belying the flavours here. A whiff of autumnal scents from damp leaves to wood mushrooms and a scattering of Middle Eastern spices. There's freshness throughout but there's certainly structure, though no new oak encumbering. It has a neat, sinewy streak, with tannins stretching across the palate, ending with a tangy chinotto, blood orange flavour and a bright acid line. Mouth-watering. (95) JANE FAULKNER, James Halliday’s Wine Companion2019Pinot noirAustralia506$52.00 As low as $46.80
Novum Pinot Noir 2019I like this. A lot! Atypically NZ in its structural meld of fineboned tannins, sandy latticework of acidity and something, salty and moreish. The structure is the totem, sure, but the core of subtle fruit creeps up: damson plum, bloodstone, bing cherry, orange zest and a cinnamon twirl of oak. There is nothing too sweet, cloying or overly exuberant about this. The
voice is one of measured, mid-weighted refinement. A benchmark for the region. (94), NED GOODWIN, MW Australia
Bright, fresh and fruity pinot noir with plum, cherry and berry flavours, together with a suggestion of dried herbs and
spicy oak characters. The wine has a pleasingly smooth texture and gentle, fruity acidity that helps drive a lengthy finish. A distinctive, stylish pinot noir. (94) BOB CAMPBELL, MW New Zealand2019Pinot noirNew Zealand434$60.00 As low as $54.00
DML VIN Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 20202020Pinot noirAustralia506$60.00 As low as $54.00
Mayer Volcanic Pinot Noir 20212021Pinot noirAustralia506$61.00 As low as $54.90
Corofin Wrekin Vineyard Pinot Noir 20192018Pinot noirNew Zealand434$63.00 As low as $56.70
Corofin Wrekin Vineyard Pinot Noir 20202020Pinot noirNew Zealand434$65.00 As low as $58.50
Thousand Candles Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 20172017Pinot noirAustralia506$66.00 As low as $59.40
Jane Eyre Tasmania Pinot Noir 20212021Pinot noirAustralia506$68.00 As low as $61.20
Giant Steps Sexton Pinot Noir 20202020Pinot noirAustralia506$71.00 As low as $63.90
Tarrawarra Estate Reserve Pinot Noir 20152015Pinot noirAustralia506$79.00 As low as $71.10
Toolangi Estate Block E Pinot Noir 2019
Sourced from 17 year old vines, 60% whole bunch, and 30% new oak. Kaspar Hermann at the controls now. Ambitious pricing, perhaps.
Plenty of spice, strawberry, blood orange, brown bread and sort of demerara sugar thing happening too. It’s medium-bodied, ripe strawberry and spice, a sappy and stalky coolness, fresh acidity, fine emery tannin, and good crunch and energy on the finish, along with some sugar dusted rhubarb. Good wine, perhaps not the deepest and most complex of Pinot Noir, but nice to drink. GARY WALSH, The Wine Front2019Pinot noirAustralia506$83.00 As low as $74.70
Proud Rose 2017 2L FlagonGrown with biological and sustainable farming practices, hand picked and whole bunch pressed to barrel for wild yeast ferment. A blend of 60% Shiraz and 40% Chardonnay. Full malolactic fermentation elevaged in old french hogsheads. Aromas of strawberry and fresh red fruits. Crunchy red berries on the palate. Textural wines with bright natural acid and 2% residual sugar for texture and drinkability. STUART PROUD2017Pinot noirAustralia506$85.00 As low as $76.50
Fromm Cuvee H Pinot Noir 2016Named after our winemaker Hätsch Kalberer, this wine reflects his 25 years of knowledge and understanding of several great Marlborough terroirs. A thoughtful composite of our five individual single vineyard wines, Cuvée “H” expresses a winery signature. It is the best Pinot we feel we can make and represents what we appreciate most in fine Pinot Noir. We do not strive to be the biggest and loudest on the block, but instead look for a complete and refined wine. Cuvée “H” is very much built with longevity in mind, however this does not preclude early drinking appeal. Tasting Note This wine has a beguiling prettiness with underpinning depth and complexity. It opens with a bright kirsch character before revealing darker blue fruits. There is silky spice and a hint of charcuterie savouriness built atop of lifting minerality. The palate shows good fruit weight, ripe flavours and an effortless structure. The wine’s tannins are well layered and are complimented by balanced acidity and subtle well integrated oak, all driving the wine through to a long, mouth-watering finish. Short description Dark plums and blueberries with aromatic spice and brambly savouriness. The palate is concentrated, layered and textural with fine tannins and a long and generous finish. FROMM2016Pinot noirNew Zealand434
Fromm Quarters Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016Full, even, light ruby-red colour with some depth and light garnet hues on the edge. The nose is softly full and gently voluminous with a rounded core of dark-red berry fruit harmoniously melded with subtle notes of fresh and dark herbs and lifted red florals. The nose is expressed with softness, delicacy and detail. Medium-full bodied, the palate is full and accessible with sweetly rich, mouthfilling flavours of dark-red berry fruit intermixed with fragrant dark herbs and dark-red florals. The fruit is succulent, and balanced by fine, grainy-textured tannin structure that provides plenty of mouthfeel, presence and fine grip. Soft, lacy acidity lends energy and the wine carries to a long, sweet, red-fruited finish. This is a mouthfilling Pinot Noir with succulent red berry fruit and subtle notes of herbs and florals with plenty of texture and presence. (18.5+/20) RAYMOND CHAN2016Pinot noirNew Zealand434
Wantirna Estate Lily Pinot Noir 2018
Cherry cola, creamy spicy oak, dried mint. Medium bodied, lovely fine silty tannin provides traction, even acidity, poached spiced strawberries, shines on the finish with a pretty perfume and dried herb, and carries long. It's a light wine of substance, if that makes sense. Easy to like. (93) GARY WALSH, The Wine Front
The vineyard has three distinct blocks of pinot noir and these are all hand harvested separately. Despite the vineyard area being only ten acres in total, the different blocks each deliver quite unique characters and often there is up to 2 weeks difference in the harvest dates. The mature block - with vines dating back to the early 1970s, gives the wine its savoury tones and fine tannins. The Front block fruit is spicy whilst the Fruit Tree block is generously fruity. Each component adds complexity when blended together, making the style of pinot noir that Wantirna Estate is known for. WANTIRNA2018Pinot noirAustralia506
Gembrook J.K.M Pinot Noir 2018
One third new oak, and one third whole bunch, as opposed to the I.J.M which was only old oak. Strawberries, juicy sweet and poached, plenty of exotic spice and green herb top notes. It’s light and sweetly red fruited, but autumnal too, and sappy and savoury, rhubarb and cinnamon, fine tannin, dry and dusty/spicy/herbal to close, with good length. Good wine here, and of typical Gembrook Hill style. (94) GARY WALSH, Winefront2018Pinot noirAustralia506$94.00 As low as $84.60
Oakridge 864 Aqueduct Block Henk Vineyard Pinot Noir 20192019Pinot noirAustralia506$97.00 As low as $87.30
Oakridge 864 Henk Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017 1500ml2017Pinot noirAustralia506$165.00 As low as $148.50
Yarra Yering Carrodus Pinot Noir 20182018Pinot noirAustralia506$295.00 As low as $265.50