Sommeliers Australia is the out there organisation developing excellence in wine selection and presentation in our dining venues.

It’s only a matter of time before we see an Australian become Sommelier du Monde, and on the way there attain Master Sommelier (MS) status.

Ben Edwards-presents Benchmarking Pinot Noir

Dan Sims-presents Benchmarking Pinot Noir

So the tasting developed by members Ben Edwards and Dan Sims titled “Benchmarking Pinot Noir” presented at ecco Bistro, Brisbane on April 20 was an event not to be missed.

Pinots from 2007-2010 (two were just bottled) were assessed blind, and although we see Australasian pinots bottled and drunk quite young, it was a feature to assess some 2008 Burgundies.Australian pinot is in a good place: winemaking is now quite orderly but clever and well understood, yet the challenge of vineyard sites under the marching warmth from climate change remains the challenge.

The Yarra Valley origin wines stays strong (represented here by Coldstream Hills Reserve 2010, +++1/2; USD 53.50; though really still undeveloped in a great production year); and many Yarra pinots will continue to impress.

Mornington Peninsula looked likewise (here Yabby Lake 2009, ++++; USD 53.50; pretty yet well-structured from a testing year); emphasising how pristine Mornington pinot can be.

From Geelong the contenders are fewer (here we tried By Farr Tout Pres 2008, +++++; USD 118; the ultimate in layered pinot, savoury yet high acid, shows winemaking experience), yet this region grows wonderful maritime climate pinot.

In Tasmania there is a lot of drinker focus on this grape and widespread reporting at the moment – so there must be something interesting going on. Maybe climatic warming is assisting the Tasmanians.

Here the representatives (Bay of Fires 2009, +++1/2; USD 41; from many Tassie sites showed a lot of tannin while Freycinet 2009; +++1/2; USD 30; has the sap and backwardness at present, from a single vineyard) showed well for what I make of the season.

From New Zealand came two Martinborough wines (Pencarrow 2009, ++++1/2; USD 17; perfumed, succulent sweet fruit with substance, and Ata Rangi 2009, ++++; USD 73.50; violets, cedar, square, big and oaky) which served the Kiwi cause very well.

From the NZ South Island I discovered a new brand (Pyramid Valley Earth Smoke 2009, USD 112.50; from North Canterbury, cloudy, obviously unfiltered which left my glass like soup, washed out colour and with a bizarre palate centering around heavy extraction).

It is always important to see some USA pinots lined up for relativity (Martinelli Blue Side Ridge 2002, USD 95 from the Sonoma Coast-with cork, was oxidised, but Oregonian Chehalem Reserve 2008, ++++1/2; USD 59; was outstanding, perfumed, preserved fruit, fresh, and tannin below, on cork).

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