James Halliday Review – The Weekend Australian


Vibrant, clear purple-crimson hue, the perfumed bouquet of red berries and violets so captivating I very nearly forgot to taste it (but was doubly happy when I did).  Vineyards, with clones 667 and Abel, fermented with 28% whole burned, the remainder whole berry, matured in French oak (10% new). 13.5% alc, screw cap 96 points, drink to 2030 $43

After 19 years in Australia, the annual Stonier International Pinot Noir Tasting is headed to red, white and the UK in 2019. SIPNOT features 12 pinot noir – always a catholic selection from well-known to obscure producers.

This year Burgundy led the roll-call with four wines, followed by the Mornington Peninsula with three, New Zealand and Oregon’s Willamette Valley earth contributing two, and Macedon with one.  The Australian pinots average
$61, New Zealand $80, the Willamette Valley $112, and Burgundy $361.

Where SIPNOT will be held after next year sin the lap of the gods. Ian far from alone in believing that the soaring Burgundy prices will accelerate in the years ahead, given the impact of Asia’s discovery of these wines . Consider the October 14 sale at Sotheby’s New York of two bottles of 1945 Romance-Conti to a private Asian buyer for $US1,054,000.

In a near-blind tasting, the SIPNOT tasters known the identity of the 12 wines, but not the order of presentation.  I’ve been to all but a couple of the events, and 50 or so years of experience have taught me to taste each wine and focus purely on its quality; thereafter you may try to pin the tail on the donkey if you wish.

My top wine turned out to be the cheapest in the lineup, the Charteris Central Otago ($43) pinot noir made by PJ Charteris, who was winemaker at Brokenwood for 12 years. Close behind came the Curly Flat ($60), grown and made with the intricacy and precision that has always marked the Macedon Ranges vineyard. I struggled to find a third wine of obvious charm on the way through, but S.C. Gillard Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru Les Corbeaux represented the best value for money of the Burgundies.

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