Dan Coward (ex-Bibendumite, now living in Sydney) reports from the Stonier International Pinot Noir Tasting (SIPNOT) 2012 in Sydney. See our blog on London SIPNOT in January:
SIPNOT 15 (and the 13th Australian version) slinked its way into my life again a couple of weeks back. There’s no better night around than the Stonier International Pinot Noir Tasting. Twelve blind, world-beating Pinots in a celebrity deathmatch staged in the coliseum of Australian Pinot, the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. In truth it’s a lot more cerebral than that. There is no spilled blood or smell of sweat and fear. Instead you have 150+ Pinotphiles tasting, debating and discussing the styles, terroirs and winemaking practices of this, the greatest grape on earth.
For Stonier winemaker Mike Symons the simplicity of SIPNOT is one of its strengths. “We select twelve wines from around the world to explore the regionality and diversity of pinot, from ethereal and elegant to muscular and powerful. Resulting discussion is always eye-opening and thought provoking. Australia has come a long way but there’s always more to understand and learn about this variety.”
For the first time this year the line-up included a wine from Germany a country garnering international recognition for its pinot noir. The twelve wines were Weingut Rudolf Furst ’09, Franken, Germany; Meo Camuzet Vosne-Romanee les Chaumes ’09, Hudelot-Noellat Clos de Vougeot ’09, Geantet-Pansiot Le Poissenot, Gevrey Chambertin ’09, and Domaine de Montille Pommard Les Pezerolles ’09, Burgundy, France. From Martinborough NZ – Ata Rangi ’10 and Craggy Range Te Muna Road Vineyard ’10, and from California, USA – Littorai Savoy Vineyard ’09. Australian wines were from Tamar Valley – Josef Chromy ’10, Yarra Valley – Giant Steps Gladysdale Vineyard ’10 and Yering Station Reserve ’10 and from the Mornington Peninsula - Stonier Reserve ’10.
What really emerged for me was the bewitching power and influence of the richer, darker, more voluptuous wines in the line-up. They flounced around, all velvety and sinful, emitting siren calls to the captivated audience. The showiest wines of the night seemed to garner the most table votes but they weren’t always the ones that did it for me. The standout wine in my notes was the Hoodly-Noodly Clos de Vougeot 2009. This was all the more satisfying for me as I’ve visited the domaine before and they’re lovely people. They’re also called Hoodly-Noodly (almost) and that is a fine name for a wine. Second for me was the Stonier Reserve 2010 which garnered the rather over-exuberant note: “Divine nose, light airy fruit, bramble, earth, magnificent complexity. Minerally & savoury palate with hint of sour black cherry. Not rich but nice, long fresh finish”
It was the first wine of the night as it turned out when revealed later and I was clearly excited at the kick-off! Third up I went for the classy Craggy Range Te Muna Road 2010, which just emphasised to me how much I love Martinborough for NZ Pinot. Each wine in the line-up had their champions in the room and there was plenty of love for the Littorai, the Ata Rangi, the Giant Steps, the Furst and the Yering Station. The Burgundies caused a stir as always and it was fascinating to hear Croser and Halliday jousting over the wines in general as well as recounting that they could pick out the Burgundy vineyards through the blind tasting. Those two have definitely had more premier crus than I’ve had hot dinners. The Meo-Camuzet was my least favourite wine of the night. It seemed extracted with raw oak and bracing tannins. There was no joy in the glass but it was a telling reminder that Burgundy really isn’t made to be drunk this young and so I suppose I fallen out of the habit of looking through a young Burgundy and divining its future 10 years down the line. A shame…but if anyone wants to send me young Burgundy to practise on, I will not complain one jot.
Thanks Dan Coward, follow him on twitter @up_shiraz