Australian Pinot Noir wine has come a long way in recent years. Once considered a lesser-known variety, this delicate and finicky grape has gained popularity among winemakers and enthusiasts alike. With a focus on new clones, cool climate regions, and next-generation winemakers, the evolution of Australian Pinot Noir wine is a fascinating story.
Pinot Noir is a grape that is particularly sensitive to its environment. Because of this, many winemakers have turned to newer clones that are better suited to the Australian climate. The MV6 clone, was historically a common choice because it is known for producing high-quality fruit that can handle the warmer climate. It was widely planted in Australia, especially for the production of sparkling wines. Of more recent times, other clones that have become popular in Australia include 777, Oberlin Dijon 114, Dijon 115, and Abel. You will start to see these names on wine bottles, with some producers choosing to bottle straight clone batches to highlight the subtle differences between them. Australian grape growers and winemakers are working out the best clones for their sites, and as the vines mature the resultant wines are getting better and better.
In addition to new clones, Australian winemakers have also begun to focus on cool climate regions. These regions provide a unique set of challenges and opportunities for Pinot Noir production. One of the most notable of these regions is Tasmania. This island state, located off the southern coast of Australia, is known for its cool and wet climate, which is ideal for growing Pinot Noir. Other cool climate regions that have gained attention include the Adelaide Hills, Victoria’s Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula and Gippsland with pockets emerging in the high country such as Whitlands. Pemberton in Western Australia also has a long and evolving history with Pinot Noir.
With the ongoing reality of climate change challenging growers, new regions are emerging and long-established assumptions challenged.
The evolution of Australian Pinot Noir wine has been driven by a new generation of growers and winemakers. These young and innovative individuals are not bound by tradition and are willing to take risks in order to produce the best possible wine. They are experimenting with different clones, using new techniques such as whole-bunch fermentation, indigenous (wild) yeast, and exploring new regions in order to push the boundaries of what is possible with Australian Pinot Noir.
What is next for Australian Pinot Noir
As new clones, cool climate regions, and next-generation winemakers continue to shape the Australian Pinot Noir industry, the future looks bright for this delicate grape variety. With each passing year, the wines are becoming more refined, complex, and expressive of their unique terroirs. And while Australia may not be the first country that comes to mind when one thinks of Pinot Noir, it is clear that this once-overlooked region is beginning to make a name for itself in the world of fine wine.
I am busy exploring new regions and growers of Pinot Noir and hope to share some exciting small parcels of this most Noble variety with you in the coming months.
Richard aka The Nimble Vintner