The definitive guide to Australian Wines
"It’s an old line, I know, but pinot noir is the wine they drink in heaven," says James Halliday. "At a more prosaic level, it’s why I moved from Sydney to Melbourne (ostensibly for my law firm) in 1983 (in reality to get nearer to the Yarra Valley) and why I am part of five families who own a small house in Burgundy."
Ranging from cherry-red, fruit-forward numbers to those with earthier, savoury notes, pinot is equally at home with grilled salmon, mushrooms, and game meats such as duck and quail. It can also handle a touch of spice, so if you’d prefer a red wine with your Thai take-out, pinot is the one to grab. Here are a dozen of the finest from James’ latest tasting notes, all rated 90-plus points.
Here at Halliday we love our pinot noir. Its complexity of flavour and ability to pair with food makes it a favourite for any night of the week. Here are 12 of the smartest new pinots from James’ latest tasting notes, including an exclusive selection not yet available on winecompanion.com.au.
Burgundian Benjamin Leroux refuses to make any distinction between the grapes he grows and those he purchases. 'I put my name to all the wines I make.' In this, and in his desire to progressively move to screwcaps for all his wines (market opportunities permitting), he is on all fours with many small, quality conscious winemakers in Australia.
James gives a blow-by-blow account of the memorable Chardonnay Pinot Noir 15 Dinner, hosted by Gary and Julie Hounsell at the Healesville Hotel. "A quartet of 1985 red Burgundies followed with a tried and true match of duck breast, red cabbage, celeriac, chard and house-smoked pancetta. There were two Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Echezeaux and Richebourg to provide the book ends for the flight…"
Notoriously one of the world’s most fickle varieties, winemakers persevere with pinot noir because when made well and to critical acclaim, it’s the equivalent of graduating from the Secret School of Talented Winemakers. But in order to give themselves the best possible chance of making pinot noir well, winemakers need to position themselves in a place where it sings rather than sulks. The US state of Oregon is such a place.
The Intrepid Wino, James Scarcebrook, interviews Tom Carson of Yabby Lake, who over the past 20 years has established a place in the industry not only for his exceptional skills as a vigneron but also his innovative business insights. This episode of The Vincast interview covers his origins, his studies and his path in the industry that has led him to putting pinot noir back on the map.
James Halliday looks back on the birth of Giant Steps: "When owner Phil Sexton sought permission to build the Innocent Bystander winery on the side of the Maroondah Highway, well within the boundary of the Healesville township, there were plenty of mumbles and grumbles from residents and other anti-progress activists."
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