The Brisbane Hilton Masterclass weekend just passed welcomed a terrific young man who presented the wines of Bindi near Gisborne in Victoria.
Michael Dhillon, son of a Punjabi man who left India in 1958 to attend Ballarat Grammar School and who never returned, is cleverly at the helm of Bindi Winegrowers.
He showed recent chardonnay and pinot noir wines from his single estate planting in one of Victoria’s coolest wine regions to the north west of Melbourne. That’s the only two varieties grown on the property, and the tasting became one focussed on the terrain and soils on one small six hectare vineyard.
As with all Australian vineyards, Bindi has been singled out for an advancement of the harvest, once reliably occurring in April and May, but now much earlier.
European vineyards use the rule of thumb that it takes 100 days from when a vine flowers to when it’s harvested. The standard time at Bindi was 115-120 days but now with global warming the period is closer to 110.
Bindi have water supplied but only water for vine health, and so in a dry season like 2007, water was applied five times. This also means the vines run on light crops; 4-5 tonnes per hectare is the maximum crop load, so the water demand is never that high anyway (big southern vineyards aim for crop loads of 8-12 tonnes per hectare).
Bindi make a vineyard blend wine called Composition, 2009 (93) and 2007 (89) which taste essentially like unwooded chardonnay; restrained nose, a little lemon meringue notes, then very lean, savoury and dominant in steely acid, and most enjoyable. Michael states these grapes have some indigenous yeast, some cultured in ferment, little or no malic acid conversion, aging in old barrels for 11 months, then bottled.
At the top end of the chardonnay planting there is an outcrop of quartz, and wines grown on that section have a different personality. Enter Bindi Quartz 2009 (95) and 2008 (94); still the same restrained nose but a more succulent palate, a touch more persistent but more tension, vibrance and textural feel in the prominant acidity. This is hallmark Bindi. The vineyard is less fertile and the yields even lower.
Michael stresses that his wines need “to taste like they come from somewhere” and that they be wines to contemplate. The best introspection with his chardonnays is to try to taste the oak, as it is so cleverly installed and beautifully tied together as one flavour.
Bindi’s first Pinot Noir is again called Composition, 2009 (94) is a blend of two vineyards, Original and a new planting from 2001 (30% and 70%). It has lots of colour for pinot, smells of dark fruits and finishes off very soft and supple; it’s in balance yet there is lots of acidity making the wine very drinkable.
Bindi Original Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009 (95) is a paler wine yet it belies what tastes arise, softness and dryness but a great savouriness on swallowing. Other than a whiff of perfume the nose is also stitched together as one event.
Bindi Block 5 Pinot Noir 2009 (94) is showing advanced colour yet a complete nose, great concentration and tingling acidity. Block 5 2008 (96) is totally different, reflecting the year, leafy, closed up nose, big richness on taste, oak and savouriness in many layers, a sleeper.
These are wines to contemplate, capable of 10-15 year life spans and most understated. As such they are wines which grow on you, so drink a few bottles.
As a passing comment, Michael Dhillon had to quickly buy a heat exchanger in 2008, with the big hot, his grapes came into the winery above 20 oC, whereas usually an autumnal harvest would have readings of 10-15oC.
Find more at www.bindiwines.com.au.
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