SOMMELIER AND MANAGER OF LUTYENS RESTAURANT
Pinot Noir is a tricky grape to grow. Countries in the New World struggle to reproduce the fragrance and elegance that characterise red Burgundy where this grape originates (and, I would add, the best wines of Germany, where it is know as Spätburgunder). New Zealand is probably the country that has come closest to cracking it. But (and as a Kiwi it pains me to say it) there are some very impressive wines from Australia.
I find it useful (if a little simplistic) to divide grapes into those that thrive in a warm climate and those that need something a little cooler. A cooler climate means a longer growing season with greater freshness in the wine. Acidity is then preserved by the colder weather. The cooler climate also aids aroma development so wines tend to be more elegant and aromatic. This is the best sort of area to grow Pinot Noir.
Rightly or wrongly, we tend to think of Australia as a warm climate for grape growing. We tend to think of the bramble and chocolate Shiraz of South Australia. But there are a diverse range of grape growing areas and some of these are suitable for Pinot Noir. The two I list at Lutyens are from Mornington Peninsula, just south-east of Melbourne in the state of Victoria (I’ll have more to say on Victoria in the future, many of Australia’s most exciting wineries are there). This is home to some of Australia’s finest Pinot Noirs.
With that elusive combination of elegance, aroma and silky texture, these are the
perfect wines to drink with lighter game that’s in season at the moment (partridge or rabbit) and their autumnal, almost decadent character is fabulous with mushrooms or cheese (perhaps the two together in a risotto). Keep an eye out for names such as Kooyong (www.greatwesternwine.co.uk), Moorooduc (available from Sipp and Selfridges. Coe Vintners also sells to private clients) or the quirkily named
Ten-Minutes-by-Tractor (available from Bancroft Wines, www.loveyourwine.com, Vin Neuf, The Case Shop, Bacchanalia, Concept Wines, Everywine.co.uk, Tankerton Fine Wines, Wine Library, Dunells).
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