Pinot Noir has been grown in France’s Burgundy region for centuries. Burgundy is home to some of the world’s most expensive agricultural land, and some of the world’s most costly wines made from Pinot Noir are grown here. It’s possible that a clone of Pinot Noir made its way to Australia with the First Fleet in 1788, and it was definitely part of the collection of vines that James Busby established in the Hunter Valley in the early 1800s. Pinot Noir should be ethereal and hint at its origins or the soil it came from. Tannins are typically fine and soft, expanding at the back of the palate. The best examples age well and often take some years to realise their true character. When tasting Pinot Noir it’s worth bearing in mind that it’s not a big red wine, but that it is all about delicacy and length, harmony and finesse. Pinot Noir is also one of the classic Champagne grapes, and is prized around the world for the production of Sparkling wine.
Pinot Noir was planted unsuccessfully in the late 1800s in Coonawarra, but was better suited to conditions in southern Victoria before phylloxera and other farming practises virtually wiped out the variety. The Yarra Valley’s re-emergence as a wine region coincided with the rebirth of Pinot Noir, and today it is the most widely planted red varietal in that region. The cool climates of Tasmania and the Adelaide Hills also offer great sites for Pinot Noir, while Western Australia’s Pemberton and Great Southern regions are showing potential to create fine Pinot Noir.
Pinot Noir has steadily grown in popularity in Australia as consumers search for an alternative to fuller reds made from Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. It now seems that the best examples of Pinot Noir are grown in cooler conditions. Pinot Noir is temperamental and sensitive to a whole range of influences in both vineyard and winery. Australian Pinot Noir is typically low in colour pigmentation, has a perfumed nose and shows red fruit such as cherry, raspberry and plum flavours balanced by smooth tannins. Great Pinot Noir should age well and develop complex truffle, game and earthy characters.
Tasmanian Pinot Noir
Tasmania has an ideal climate for Pinot Noir, for both Sparkling and table wine production. Some of the most exciting Australian Pinot Noir is produced in Tasmania, particularly on the east coast.
Macedon Ranges Pinot Noir
Given its striking affinity with Pinot Noir, this cool, elevated region is among the finest in Victoria for the variety. The wines show restraint, power, finesse and complexity, all the hallmarks of great Pinot Noir.
Geelong Pinot Noir
Home to some of the first great Australian Pinot Noir examples, this region produces concentrated wines with dark cherry fruit and good depth.
Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir
Some fine Australian Pinot Noirs are produced on the Mornington Peninsula. These wines exhibit a slightly lighter mouthfeel with vibrant fruit within the sweeter spectrum.
Yarra Valley Pinot Noir
The Yarra Valley has made good Pinot Noir for some time. The wines are light in character, elegant and very approachable in their youth.
Pemberton Pinot Noir
This cool Western Australian region is making a name for quality medium-bodied, complex Pinot Noirs with attractive new world flavours; plum, cassis and mocha.