Attwoods Old Hog Pinot Noir 2012

A tale of three vintages, from the difficult 2011, through this wine to the as-yet unreleased 2013. These wines are those of a good friend, Troy Walsh, who made wine school a hell of a lot more fun than it otherwise would have been for me, and who comes with a background working as a sommelier in some of London’s better-known fine dining establishments. After returning to Australia, he and his family settled in the Ballarat area, and his goal is to make exceptional Pinot Noir. He works with Geelong and Ballarat fruit, and is in the process of establishing his own vineyard on a lovely slope in Scotsburn. The best is almost certainly yet to come.

All of which makes these three wines fascinating. There’s a family resemblance, but each speaks clearly of its vintage. The 2011, long sold out, is a light wine, savoury in character and ephemeral in effect, providing a transparent look into a challenging growing season. This is a massive step up, with more of everything – intensity, structure, length, density. This is a sinewy, uncompromising style that is all about savouriness of flavour and acid-driven structure. It’s startlingly adult, in fact, and very regional in its refusal to cushion its impact with any sort of plushness. I can imagine its vibe might be too extreme for some, but for those who can get inside the wine, there’s a wealth of detail and interest, and surprising depth of flavour. A distillation of Geelong Pinot.

The 2013, though a way off release, softens the 2012’s countenance slightly with a big opening of bright fruit. There’s a good deal of whole bunch happening here, so I presume some of this fruitiness is a function of some carbonic maceration as well as extreme youth – in any case, the question of family resemblance is quickly settled as the wine breathes. Although showing some puppy fat, this is a savoury wine at heart, if one with a bit more flesh and scale than the 2012. I tasted this over several days (it was decanted on opening and stayed that way) and it never tired. It simply became darker and more like the 2012 in flavour profile. I look forward to its release.

It’s fascinating to watch this portfolio evolve through its early stages. Already, Troy is exploring his somewhat uncompromising view of wine style, and engaging strongly with the regions he chooses to work within. I see only good things ahead.

Attwoods Wines
Price: $A45
Closure: Cork
Source: Gift

Farr Rising Geelong Pinot Noir 2007

Usually, I’m too lazy to plan ahead when it comes to food and wine matching. Today, however, I was organised to a superhuman degree (for me, anyway) and actually thought about what I would drink with what I had planned to cook. So, a venison and beetroot pot roast is just finishing up in the oven, while I am enjoying my first sips of this Pinot Noir from Geelong.

Remarkably funky and characterful nose, the complexity of which seems fruit driven rather than forced through winemaking (who knows if this impression is accurate — kudos to Nick Farr if it’s all his doing). Riotous aromas of char siu, five spice, beetroot, minerality and hessian are neatly wrapped in a brightly expressive package. The aroma profile is truly interesting and seems full of the smells of childhood in a Chinese home (how I miss my mother’s cooking!).
A very flavoursome entry showing more markedly sweet fruit, red currant-like in character. It’s no simple fruit bomb, though. In fact, the flavours here are again complex, with spice and sour-edged rhubarb intruding in on the lusciousness of the fruit. It’s juicy without flab and savoury sans excess. Well balanced, in other words, though I would not call it delicate or elegant. In fact the flavour profile is a bit jingly jangly; it’s about contrast and glitter rather than harmony. The after palate shows some sappy oak and perhaps a bit of stalk action too, again well judged. Decent finish that seems to descend to the bass registers, slowly fading away with time.
Wish me luck with the food match. 

Farr Rising
Price: $A39
Closure: Cork

Curlewis Bel Sel Pinot Noir 2006

Together with the Stefano Lubiana tasted yesterday, this wine falls in a sparsely populated class that I shall call “second label Australian Pinot Noirs that don’t taste like second label Australian Pinot Noirs.” Breaking new ground, as always.

This wine reeks of winemaking cred. Really funky aromas of tomato sauce, barbecued snags, sparkling red fruit and spice. A touch of merde too. Personally, I love it, not least for the fact that it will probably divide drinkers in an instant. Despite everything that’s going on here, fruit flavour seems quite straightforward, which is a nice foil to the winemaking artifact. Above all, it communicates an immediate, confident sense of style.