The well-known winemakers behind Picardy in Pemberton have nailed it with this 2020 vintage.
Before you read this, I want you to jump ahead to the tasting notes and in particular the Tete de Cuvee pinot noir 2020.
This might well be the finest pinot ever made in Western Australia and, until I tasted it, I always thought the Picardy 2018 was.
I’ve suggested you jump ahead because the few minutes you save before you read this might mean you can get on the phone and order a bottle or two before it sells out. And it will.
In Australian wine there are few more single-minded individuals than Bill Pannell.
The story of him digging holes all over Margaret River in the late 1960s to find a suitable site for a vineyard that became Moss Wood is legendary.
And woe betide anyone who doubted the quality or the potential for his early cabernets.
He eventually sold Moss Wood in the early 1980s and then turned to a new focus of his attention – pinot noir.
He had dabbled with it at Moss Wood, making the remarkable 1981, for instance.
But he knew he had to go south and to Pemberton where in 1993 he and wife, Sandra, established Picardy.
While his clear focus has been on the Burgundian varieties pinot noir and chardonnay, with son, Dan, he has also explored the possibilities with shiraz and Bordeaux red blends.
They have done this with a strong emphasis on the Right Bank varieties merlot and cabernet franc, and white blends, with the Left Bank varieties semillon and sauvignon blanc.
In the vineyard, which is quite close to the coast, the vines have been close planted to increase root depth and trained low to draw radiated heat from the gravelly soils.
A non-cultivation approach helps preserve the soil structure and composition.
But it is with varietal clones, particularly with pinot and chardonnay, where his absolute commitment to taking his wines to another level becomes acutely evident.
During an involvement in a domaine in Burgundy, the Pannells became fascinated in a clonal trial based on hundreds of selections from Burgundy.
Eventually, they chose to import four chardonnay clones and three pinot noir.
They have since imported another six different clones of pinot, and these form a fundamental building block for Picardy pinot.
And on top of that, continued refinement of oaks and coopers is further enhancing and refining the wines.
In addition to the wonderful Tete and chardonnay, I have also included the new, slightly idiosyncratic merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc blend, which shows that with good viticulture these Bordeaux varieties, more at home in warmer climes, can produce outstanding wines in a cooler environment.
Picardy Tete de Cuvee pinot noir 2020 ($119)
My, oh my. I thought the 2018 was the best yet from Picardy, but this one might have just pipped it. Let me try it in another year before I get off the fence. This is power, precision and poise. A seductive perfumed aroma of cherry and raspberry and a vanillin spicy character emerging. Has a chalky minerality that threads carefully through the seamlessly structured palate, carrying it to an endless finish. Just beautiful.
Cellar: 18 years
Picardy chardonnay 2022 ($60)
This was still very tight at the time of tasting but as it breathed it opened to reveal all that intensity and power in a deeply concentrated and supremely elegant palate. It’s a fine style with an opening of lemon butter and subtle minerality. The palate has a controlled chalky character, which contributes to its tight linear feel. It’s from several different clones, which have been co-fermented. Has a juicy crunchy crystalline palate feel.
Cellar: 10 years
Picardy merlot cabernet sauvignon cabernet franc 2019 ($35)
This slightly more restrained vintage has contributed to a pretty and delightfully elegant wine. Has an engaging mix of light plum, cherry and licorice. On the finish a little chalky minerality adds that final tick. Love the oak and tannin integration which have contributed to the medium weight frit to create a thoroughly beautiful expression of these three varieties.
Cellar: Eight years
- Ray Jordan is one of Australia’s most experienced and respected wine journalists, contributing to newspapers and magazines over more than 40 years. In 2017 he co-authored The Way it Was: The History of the early years of the Margaret River Wine Region