Pinot noir releases from the Porongurup region are giving the naysayers pause, and rightly so.
For the past few years, I have been banging on about the quality of Western Australian pinot noir, despite the naysayers in the eastern states who reckon pinot just doesn’t work way out west.
I recently highlighted the Picardy Tete de Cuvee from Pemberton as a world-class pinot that points to the excellence of that region for pinot.
Recently, the folly of the negativity for WA pinot was highlighted by the success of Porongurup-based Castle Rock Estate, which won a trophy for the best pinot noir at the Perth Royal Wine Show.
Now, this is not a WA-only wine show.
The best wines from around the country are shown, including those from outstanding pinot regions in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.
So, the win was significant.
Apart from reinforcing the quality of WA pinot noir, the success shone the spotlight on the Porongurup region, east of Mount Barker in the Great Southern.
As a rule (and there are always exceptions), pinot noir does not perform well in warmer areas, but does best in regions where the winters are cold, which allows the vines to go dormant before waking for the spring budburst.
The higher altitude and rolling hills of the Porongurup region provide a quite different microclimate to other areas in the Great Southern.
The cooler conditions are especially suited to both pinot noir and riesling.
In fact, Castle Rock’s riesling also won a trophy at the Perth show.
The wins were also a triumph for Castle Rock owner and winemaker Rob Diletti, one of Australia’s finest winemakers.
“The Porongurup boasts a unique climate due to its aspect and elevation. This creates a nocturnal thermal zone due to warm air rising above denser cold air sliding down the hillsides,” Mr Diletti said.
“Pinot noir is recognised for its ability to convey terroir due to its delicate but balanced structure. In the winery, we minimise intervention where possible to maintain the wine’s regional expression.
“With pinot, we follow traditional winemaking methods such as use of oak barrels, whole-bunch fermentation and extended maceration to build complexity and structure, but never at the detriment of varietal expression.”
Another Great Southern producer, Singlefile, also sources pinot from the region, and this week I have highlighted one of their best.
Castle Rock Estate pinot noir 2022 ($40)
Another outstanding pinot from Castle Rock. Winemaker Rob Diletti has managed to combine the immense power and flavour of this variety in a very good vintage with a degree of subtle finesse to create a thoroughly beautiful example of pinot noir from the Great Southern. The intense strawberry fruits are complemented with a savoury element. Seamless with a fine lingering acidity. Makes quite a statement.
Cellar: 10 years
Castle Rock Estate A&W pinot noir 2022 ($55)
A wine of structure and poise. This is a serious pinot noir, demonstrating the power and finesse that you get in great pinots. A&W has been a project for over 20 years with the vines now between eight and 37 years. There is a slightly sappy stewed plum and sour cherry character that expresses the complexity of this variety. The palate is firm and held with a tight fine tannin and beautiful applied oak, which is a mix of new and seasoned French, 24 per cent of which was new. Super impressive.
Cellar: 12 years
Singlefile Single Vineyard Porongurup pinot noir 2022 ($37)
This has been sourced from the Misery Hill Vineyard in the Porongurups. Medium bodied with excellent structure and poise. The aromas of sour cherry and spicy, slightly gamey characters are engaging. The palate is refined and focused with a fine chalky acid and fine bony tannins in control. Plenty of red fruit emerges with breathing. I reckon another few years will see it really hit its straps.
Cellar: Nine 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