THE WOOLLAHRA HOTEL - 'Pinot Noir around Australia'

A report by John Cunnington


This year there were 160 wines on show at The Woollahra Hotel 'Pinot Noir Around Australia' tasting.


With that many wines the best one can hope to do is concentrate on a region or focus on recommendations from the 'experts' there.   


As I have an affinity for wines from the Mornington Peninsula I concentrated on the 26 wines on show from that region (alas from only 16 wineries).


The 2001 Kooyong looked good, the ‘Massale’ lived up to expectations but although the much sought after ‘Haven’ was listed, it was not available for tasting.


The 2003 Port Phillip Estate showed to be very restrained, almost raw, although quite cherry evident, and the


2003 Scorpo looked pretty good in this line-up. 


The 2003 Moorooduc ‘Devil Bend Creek’ 2003 was one of the better Mornington Peninsula wines.  Winemaker Ric McIntyre manages to introduce enjoyable, challenging complexities into his wines.


The well promoted Gold Medal Winner at the Red Hill Show, the Darling Park 2004, was unapproachable, herbaceous and a completely fragmented wine.  One must ask in what company it won the Gold Medal, or indeed who the judges were? 


A Mornington Estate 2002 at $18.99 was excellent value and not unlike a less expensive Santenay in its flavour profile.


All Willow Creek wines were under-whelming.


Paringa Estate - 2002, 2003 Reserve and 2004 PE, showed varying degrees of hard, bitter and short flavours and was nothing like the Reserve seen at the Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir Conference just some weeks ago. 


The Stonier 2003 looked very saleable albeit with their predictable fruit driven, firm tannin style [$42.99].  This wine is very popular at The Woollahra Hotel and Centennial Hotel (my two locals).


Red Hill seem to have some serious winemaking/fruit problems with the 2000 Red Hill Classic Reserve sour and astringent [$32.99].


Of the few others I was able to try I would recommend Curly Flat 2002 [this is still readily available and excellent], Apsley Gorge 2001 [one of the best wines I tasted], Lenswood 2002, Ashton Hills 2003 and Carlei Green Vineyards 2002.


The Domaine A 2001 from Tasmania was a shocker with overpowering leafy characters and very feral flavours.  The Phillip Jones Old Cellar 2003 was cloudy, astringent and plain weird.


The Yarra Valley Long Flat 2004 at $12.99 was a good value-for-money example. The firmly structured Sarsfield Estate 2002 at $23.99 is also good value and worth trying.


The most expensive wine on show was the Curlewis Reserve at $82, which must be a reflection of the costs of viticulture rather than the quality of the wine.


John Cunnington runs The Art of Wine & Food in Woollahra and is well known for speaking his mind!