Our first serious look at 2012 pinot’s was so exciting. Just looking at the line up it was immediately clear that this is a year for deep colours in pinot noir. Whilst colour is not everything, it certainly is a good sign. On the vine we knew the potential was there with very small yields and tiny bunch and berry weights. (we averaged 1.2 tons/acre across all our pinot blocks).

The sensory challenge was significant, with 20 separate parcels on the table and a wide range of parameters to consider; whole bunch, carbonic maceration, wild ferment, cultured yeasts, pre and post ferment macerations and saignee (drop in at our Cellar Door one day if you’d like an explanation of these winemaking techniques).

Aroma and flavour profiles are spot on and really expressive without greenness (except one, which will remain nameless). Red and black fruits and spice with real fruit sweetness and such a broad range of pinot styles from delicate and lifted to deep and brooding.

Springborn vineyard at Tuerong ripened very quickly in the final stages and the wine is massive. My first note reads ‘dark saturating black fruits’. This really is a big style with stacks of fruit that carries the ripe tannins and alcohol easily.

The wild ferments from blocks around the Merricks area have black fruit characters too, but more sour cherry, rhubarb and earth. What’s really nice is the supple texture. The best wines have curve and feel in the mouth. What’s clear is that wild, extended ferments give us more glycerol and mouthfeel . Nowhere is this more apparent than our 50% whole bunch parcel. This wine is ageworthy with great structure and a supple mouthfeel.

Our beloved Lake Block once again has lovely balance and harmony at this early stage and, surprisingly, shows kirsch and blue fruits, which is so nice to see. The winner for me is a real surprise, Main Ridge. Deeply coloured with real depth of flavour and chalky, structural tannins and not a bit green. We painstakingly sorted this fruit over the vibrating table which was agonisingly slow, but really worth the effort.

What we’ve learnt …

  1. 2012 is a great year for terroir expression and will go down as a wonderful pinot year. My tip is to look for sub regional wines as 2012 will prise apart the differences beautifully.
  2. Wild ferments are definitely the go when you’ve got perfect fruit. The extra benefits of texture and mouthfeel are well worth the effort.
  3. Ripe structural tannins – they give our wines an extra level of complexity, interest and importantly ageability.

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