Wine review — Ninth Island, Toolangi, Mud House, Main Ridge and Cloudy Bay

Ninth Island Tasmania Pinot Noir 2008 $20–24
Toolangi Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2007 $22–25

With a few exceptions, the entry price for decent Australian pinot seems to be around $20. But that’s the nature of a beast that needs a cool climate and low yields to deliver flavour and structure. Ninth Island (part of Pipers Brook, owned by Belgium-based Kreglinger) and Toolangi are two very good examples of entry-level pinot. Ninth Island seems light and fine at first sip, but there’s a depth to it that grows as you sip irresistibly to the end of the bottle. Toolangi, from Yarra Valley, perhaps because of its extra age, offers more savouriness and earthiness.

Mud House Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007 $25–$28
The comparatively recent, emphatic arrival of Central Otago pinot noir on the world wine scene gives us such names as Felton Road, Chard Farm, Rockburn, Carrick, Mt Difficulty and Mount Edward. Their quality and fame also means a $50-plus price tag. But the recent arrival in Australia of Mud House gives us a decent pinot from the region at a modest (for pinot) price. Made in Marlborough from fruit grown in Central Otago’s Bendigo sub-region, Mud House offers ripe, well-defined pinot flavour supported by soft but assertive red-wine tannin. It doesn’t need cellaring and should be enjoyed over the next two or three years.

Main Ridge Mornington Peninsula Half Acre Pinot Noir 2007 $65
Cloudy Bay Marlborough Pinot Noir 2007 $54–60

This is a classy pair of pinots, one from the Moet-Hennessy-Louis-Vuitton-owned Cloudy Bay at Marlborough New Zealand, the other from the White family’s tiny Mornington Peninsula estate. Main Ridge showed terrific promise tasted from barrel in January 2008. Tastes of the finished wine in February and May this year confirm it as one of the finest ever made in Australia, in my opinion – a silky, succulent, fine-boned wine of rare dimension, with the capacity to age for many years. Cloudy Bay offers the darker fruit flavours (like ripe black cherry or plum) of the pinot spectrum, with good structure, depth and cellaring potential.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2009