Nick Farr: latest releases & an interview about Geelong’s 2011 Pinot Noirs & Chardonnays, “unlike any vintage we’ve seen before”

Gary and Nick Farr (pictured) are the father and son team behind By Farr in Geelong, Victoria.  At last year’s Landmark tutorial Michael Hill-Smith MW memorably described Gary Farr as “John the Baptist of Australian Pinot” for his pivotal role in converting the industry to a variety once widely regarded as “positively unAustralian.”

Getting under Pinot’s skin has seen Farr senior work 13 vintages at Domain Dujac, Burgundy and, according to Nick, given him the ‘constitution’ of an ox.  Check out my interview with Nick Farr about said constitution, also the 2011 vintage here.  As you’ll see, like Bill Downie (whose interview I posted here yesterday), father and son are really excited by the performance of Pinot Noir in 2011, which they reckon has “the most Burgundian flavours ever seen.” 

The By Farr label has just been listed in the UK by Liberty Wines.  Below you’ll find my notes on the current releases which I tasted this week and last.

By Farr Geelong Chardonnay 2008 (Geelong)

Though powerful, this corpulent, earthy Chardonnay layered with peach and hazelnut is in no sense over-worked or over-stretched.  With underlying freshness and well-judged oak, it finds its own shape.  A characterful Chardonnay with great palate presence and goût de terroir.  RRP £44.99

By Farr ‘Farrside’ Geelong Pinot Noir 2008 (Geelong)

This, the first of two Pinots, hails from the youngest vineyard which is home to a veritable smörgåsbord of clones (115, 114, 113, mv6, 777, 667) planted in 2001 (2500 vines/ha).  With 50% whole bunch fermentation, it’s an earthy, spicy, well-structured Pinot Noir, intense and long with a well-defined core of sweet and sour plum and red cherry fruit, supported by ripe but present tannins.  Very good.  RRP £44.99

By Farr ‘Tout Pres’ Geelong Pinot Noir 2008 (Geelong)

It may be almost twice the price of the Farrside Pinot but, with a planting density of 7500 vines/ha, yields are tiny and Farr tells me the vineyard is three times as much work.  I reckon it’s worth it.  This is a wonderfully earthy, deep and resonant Pinot Noir with layer upon layer of spice, forest floor, chocolate and earth to its concentrated sweet and sour cherry fruit.  Ripe velvety suede tannins seemingly cleave to the mouth intensifying the flavours on a finish which steadily builds in the mouth.  Terrific.   RRP £72.99 (and more than held its own when tasted yesterday alongside the Domaine Mongeard-Mugneret Vosnes Romanee Les Orveaux 2007).

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