William Downie Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir 2006

What a handsome package. It’s almost too pretty to open, this bottle, capped as it is with a thick glob of wax and decorated with minimal yet humanist labels/artwork. But wine’s there to be drunk, so after admiring it for a moment, I attacked it with a waiter’s friend, revealing a lovely Diam seal. Mere moments with the pump action corkscrew and here we are, ready to taste.The packaging is so seductive and promises such satisfaction, it comes as a (perhaps unreasonable) surprise to find the wine inside isn’t quite so easy. For starters, there’s a powerfully feral pong that emerges from the glass at first. It’s not quite stalk, and not quite oaked spice, but exists somewhere in between, sitting somewhat lumpily atop bright, fresh strawberry/cherry fruit. As someone who likes a bit of pong in his Pinot, I enjoy this flavour profile, but it’s an intellectual experience. With about half an hour of swirling, the feral-ness has integrated nicely into the underlying fruit, becoming an extra layer of complexity rather than a disjointed, if characterful, sore thumb. The palate confirms the light, bright nature of this wine’s flavour profile, and introduces the assertive acid that provides such restraint and definition. It’s all sunshine and light on entry, the acid creating a vivid, fresh impression and the fruit backing this up with bright red, high toned flavour. This wine is a lesson in how impact can be completely different from weight, how intensity is not the same as density. It’s so fleet on the palate, one is surprised any flavour registers at all, let alone the reasonably intense coating of savoury red fruit  and spicy oak this wine actually delivers. Things really start to get interesting through the after palate, where the wine’s structure opens out and promises even more flavoursome times ahead. It’s only getting better as the evening wears on, with additional, deeper registers starting to emerge. It’s not the most complex wine I’ve ever tasted, but the flavour profile is so characterful, you can forgive it for being a little straightforward.I’m betting some short to medium term cellaring (say, 2-5 years) will do some cool things to this wine. At the moment, it is drinking relatively well but its youthful restraint may prove a little frustrating too.Update: I gave this wine a night to think about what it had done. It’s quite transformed, with a lot less bright fruit and a lot more layered complexity. It is, dare I say it, becoming somewhat Burgundian in flavour profile. Nice drop.William DowniePrice: $A40Closure: DiamDate tasted: June 2008 

2 thoughts on “William Downie Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir 2006

  1. Thanks Edward, I remember reading your note on this wine last year — in fact, I’m quite sure it accelerated my decision to buy some. A really interesting wine, this one. I don’t think it’s quite resolved, but I like the style.

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