Fine Australian Pinot Noir from Vinterloper & Timo Mayer
Mac Forbes did not field the only Australian Pinot Noir to impress at the Australia Day Tasting (Pinot Noirs I should say – the terroirist showed nine, no less, my picks reviewed here). It was good to catch up with David Bowley of Vinterloper. We first met in 2011 in the Adelaide Hills, from whence his Pinots – my pick of his boundary pushing range – come. Back to the Yarra Valley, Timo Mayer’s Close Planted Pinot Noir drew many a sigh of satisfaction at last week’s Indigo tasting. Here are my notes on a contrasting trio – great examples of terroir-driven Australian Pinot Noir:
Vinterloper PN/14 Pinot Noir 2014 (Adelaide Hills)
This un-fined & unfiltered single vineyard Pinot Noir comes from Norton Summit so, no surprises, it’s at an elevated 440m, very close to the Basket Range (home to Anton von Klopper, Ochota Barrels). It was planted in 1990 to clone D5V12, a.k.a. the Champagne clone. Wild fermented with 33% whole bunch, it’s pale and distinctly interesting. An expressive nose and palate reveals a beguiling violet perfume, crunchy red fruits, a lick of bitter chocolate (it was aged for 11/12 months in French oak, 33% new) and savoury pine forest floor (dried pine needles) undertones. A pronounced salty minerality to the finish and persistent acidity makes for a fresh, lingering finish. Very sapid. 14% £24.99 at Red Squirrel.
Vinterloper OPN/12 ODEON Pinot Noir 2012 (Adelaide Hills)
ODEON denotes Bowley’s flagship wines. Same clone, same region but, climbing higher still (to 550m), the vineyard is in Lenswood; it was planted in 1986. While the pretty, tightly wound style of PN/14 was in line with my expectations of the Champagne clone, ODEON positively flies in the face of it. As you’d expect from the price tag, it’s a much more concentrated wine. A very individual one too, spicy with – a first for me for Pinot – lamb fat, which signals this wine’s muscular texture and garrigue-like riff of dried herbs. No violets here; ODEON is emphatically savoury, with ripe but firm supporting tannins. Still tightly clasped, its core of red berry and cherry fruit has yet to unfurl and strut its stuff. With time/decanting, I’m sure it would have. Now that I’d liked to have seen. A powerful, very promising Pinot. 13% £59.99
Timo Mayer Close Planted Pinot Noir 2014 (Yarra Valley)
There are no prizes for guessing that this wine comes from an acre planted at 5.700/acre, double the planting density of the rest of the vineyard (and closer to the Burgundian model). Near Healesville, the vineyard is so steep that Mayer called it “Bloody Hill.” In fact, when we met in 2012, he told me he didn’t buy vineyard land, but “goat’s land!” I must say, the uphill slog has been worth the effort. This is so expressive, very sensual and complete already, with sweet and silky crushed red berry fruit – very pure – with lingering, lacy violet top notes. Spicy (whole bunch) taffeta tannins lend a “ruched” effect to the palate, bringing subtle but energetic dimension and length. Delectable. 13% £39 at Vin Cognito.