A surprisingly small-scale Australian Pinot Noir

Difficult as it might be to believe this, we don’t always drink flash Burgundy at casa Strange. The partner has just received a case of affordable wines for general drinking from the Wine Society. If this first wine from his selection is anything to go by we will clearly have some fun, and reasonably interesting, wines to drink. Mac Forbes are based in the Yarra Valley, a which we are told is a good climate for Pinot Noir. Really low yields from the dry-grown vineyard that produced this wine, 14 hectolitres per hectare in 2007. Since the vines were only eleven years old at the time (2005 was Mac Forbes’ first vintage) these yields and the expressiveness of the wine are a pleasing surprise. It is bottled with a screw cap.

[image image_id=”2088″ align=”left”] Gruyere Pinot Noir 2007, Mac Forbes

This is a very pale colour compared to those inky black Australian wines one so often sees; but as we know colour doesn’t tell you much about the quality of Pinot. It is distinctly fruit-driven on the nose, but not only is the fruit fresh and ripe, very far from being jammy, there seems a real sense of restraint to its aromatic profile. Its alcohol level is a remarkable 12%, so no nose burning as I am smelling this. If we are honest, the nose lacks a shade of complexity, but I am so pleased by its elegance and prettiness that I don’t mind, you can only expect so much from drinking wines. The palate also has lots of that charmingly fresh, ripe fruit, with perfectly good acidity as well (if not as much as you’d expect to find in a small-scale Burgundy). It is a pleasingly elegant palate for an Australian wine, reasonably well balanced, with the fruit framed by fine tannins and a hint of oak spice. This is undoubtedly a very good wine for the price, but I’m finding it a tiny bit odd. Let me explain: this is a very cleanly made, modern wine in what could be described as an international style. However, it is themed around pretty fruitiness, with a gently-extracted structure, light body and a wonderfully low alcohol level. I’m enjoying this more and more as I drink it. Certainly it is not the world’s most complex, thrilling Pinot Noir, but a wine with so much elegance and charisma suits me down to the ground.

  • David Strange

    The partner points out that he paid more or less the same for this as he did for the 2006 Chambolle-Musigny from Dujac Fils et Pere (albeit that was purchased direct). Which would you buy?

    My view is that the Chambolle is a more interesting wine with a longer life ahead of it, but if you want uncomplicated, accessible drinking pleasure which bursts with obvious charm (and sometimes we need that be it for ourselves or the wine neophytes we have to endure) I think you would do well buying some of this.

    I hate to be moderate and reasonable, but there is a place for both. We will certainly buy more of this, it is good stuff, but we’ll probably be buying more Dujac F&P Chambolle (if I can arrange this when I discuss our next allocation with the noble Seysses’s of Domaine Dujac).