Castle Rock Estate, Pinot Noir 2018
When we think of pinot noir, I suspect that most of us drift towards wines from Burgundy in France, Oregon in the USA or Central Otago in New Zealand’s southern isle, but there are a number of Australian districts that are producing stunning examples of the style and creating what is almost a cult following for their wines. Regions like the Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Valley and Freycinet in Tasmania are producing very good wines, and some are selling their wares at eye-watering prices!
When it comes to expensive pinot, the Victorian producers in the Yarra Valley and in South Gippsland probably take the crown. There are wineries in the State that have pinot selling with price tags that would make Burgundian winemakers giggle. If you’d like to invest in a bottle of the Bass Phillip Premium Pinot Noir from South Gippsland, the 2015 edition is currently available at $240 a bottle. And if you care to take a trip to the Yarra, you’ll find Mount Mary selling the varietal at over $130 a bottle, while at Yering Station, their Scarlett Pinot Noir commands a $250 plus earn. Over at Yarra Yering, their flagship pinot, the Carrodus has a lofty $250 plus price point; if you can get it! The Wine Emporium in Brisbane has the 2015 vintage on the shelves, but you’ll have to part with $270 to walk it out the door.
In defence of the wineries that produce our best pinot, the higher than average price point can be justified for a number of reasons. After all, pinot is thin skinned and a finicky grape to grow. It can be challenging in even the best conditions and is much lower yielding than varietals like shiraz and cabernet. As it normally thrives in cooler climates, it spends longer on the vines due to a slower ripening process, and that only serves to extend the window for misadventure and misfortune – like rain, hail or fire. And then, of course, there’s always a hint of capitalistic opportunism!
But as pinot goes, I’ve always thought that Central Otago and the Mornington Peninsula offer the best value. That was until I tasted a Castle Rock Western Aussie pinot from Porongurup in the Great Southern region. It’s only about $30-$34 a bottle and surprises on the up-side. It’s a dusty red in the glass with a purple hue and there are lovely spice and sandalwood notes on the nose. On the palate, it’s more about rhubarb than red cherries but there are ripe strawberries on the edges and cranberry and raspberry layered through the finish. The savoury, earthy characters evolve on the finish along with more spice, acid and obvious tannins. You can even discern a hint of the eucalypt forest that flourish in the region’s national parks! The complexity is surprising for a wine made from relatively youthful (30 year old) vines.
At the price point, the value is there for all to see, and as winter descends, there’s no better time to enjoy an Aussie red of any type!
Winery Website: www.castlerockestate.com.au
Travis Schultz is a wine reviewer for the Sunshine Coast Daily and The Grape Hunter extend their thanks to the Sunshine Coast Daily for allowing re-publication of his reviews