Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir Rosé 2004 Victoria

21 Mar 2006 by JR

This memorably named wine was a real surprise when I tasted it. I don’t expect many Australian whites and pinks to last more than 12 months but here’s a pale pink wine that is now two years old and still lively and interesting. The exact shade of pink is extremely delicate without looking like a pale red wine with lots of water added. It even tastes pretty in the way that Pinot Noir grown in a relatively cool climate does, and is certainly not too old, though I would drink it in the next few months rather than put it in the cellar.

We keep being told how fashionable and popular pink wines are (as first discussed by me back in jan 03 as in The rehabilitation of rosé) but it can be a devil of a job to find a good one. Or at least one that is both dry and seriously interesting. (There are shoals of off dry, very low-temperature ferment, strawberry pink versions.) Another one, arguably, also comes from the Yarra Valley, Yering Station’s Pinot Noir Rosé 2005 which is meant to taste like Sancerre Rosé, but much as I admire winemaker Tom Carson, I think Innocent Bystander is more interesting.

I’d drink it as an aperitif or with one of the many salad-based dishes that make such great first courses – maybe beetroot, rocket and walnut. 

This wine was made by Phil Sexton, micro-brewer and gifted marketer who sold Devil’s Lair in WA to Southcorp and then set up Giant Steps in the Yarra Valley. I am told that the fruit for this wine comes partly from his own property, supplemented by fruit from a grower in the equally cool King Valley in the far north east of Victoria. (By far the majority of Australia’s best Pinot Noir is grown in Victoria. Discuss.) You can find out more about Innocent Bystander, Phil Sexton’s diffusion label, at  www.innocentbystander.com.au.

According to winesearcher.com, this wine is surprisingly widely distributed. In the UK you can find it at £8.75 from deFINE Food and Wine of Cheshire (01606 882101); at £8.99 from The Wine Press in my home town of Carlisle (01228 515646); and a robust £10.95 at Tom’s Deli in London W11 (020 7221 8818).

It’s also available in Australia from Aus$12.68 (less than £6) and in the US from a little at $12.

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