A Pinot with multiple personalities.
From £31.99, AU$79, $60.29
Pinot Noir doesn't just reflect its origin with fidelity, it also reflects the personality of its producers. This was one of several hot-topic discussions at the recent Pinot Celebration in Australia’s Mornington Peninsula region. Another discussion was whether Australia's Pinot Noir producers should be charging more for their wines. Moorooduc's top single-vineyard Pinot Noir might just prove both to be true.
Straight from the glass, the Moorooduc McIntyre Pinot Noir 2019 has an intensity of fruit yet delicacy of fragrance that sets it apart. Alongside typical cranberry and cherry aromas comes an already complex herbal nose recalling crushed herbs wafting up from underfoot. The palate has a self-assured firmness that is more brooding than the prevailing style of Australian Pinot, which favours light body, imperceptible tannins and prominent acidity.
Sheer clarity of fruit and exemplary fragrance is certainly reflective of the Mornington Peninsula at its best – although even after tasting nearly 100 examples over a weekend, I struggled to identify a unique regional characteristic. Perhaps the most unifying factor is the potential for achieving such high quality as this wine – an attribute that few regions can lay claim to.
It is more tempting to draw parallels with the personalities of its makers (and only slightly more fanciful). Meeting founder winemaker Richard McIntyre and winemaker Jeremy Magyar (main picture, with Jeremy on the right and me on the left) for a mini-vertical of their range was enough to convince me that their personal dynamic – and that of Richard’s daughter Kate, who is also integral to the winemaking – must be essential to their success.
Richard’s long experience in making wine in the Mornington Peninsula – the estate was established in the early 1980s – and his wide knowledge of Pinot Noir archetypes establishes a framework that makes the McIntyre 2019 so classically styled, with needlepoint detail complementing powerful substance; while Jeremy seems to inject energetic fragrance and gratifying immediacy to the wine.
Kate – not present at the tasting, but who I met several times in the vicinity – surely brings invaluable global context, both as a Master of Wine and in her sales and marketing role, with the result that the wine is exemplary Pinot; contemporary yet classic.
Then again, perhaps they would insist that the wine merely reflects this particular vineyard, which is the original plot of land first planted by Richard back in 1983. Initially it was planted to Cabernet Sauvignon but soon grafted to Pinot Noir (and Chardonnay) when the former proved unsuitable for this relatively cool climate. For the region, 40 years of age qualifies as old vines, and local winemakers attach particular credence to their enhanced ability to transmit vineyard character.
A reluctance to take any credit away from terroir was a common refrain at the Pinot Celebration. But human decisions – and the personality that guides them – is an integral part of that concept. However what matters most is that the wine is, to use the vernacular, bloody delicious.
Bloody ageworthy, too, as proved by the 2015 and 2013 I tasted after the 2019. Both of these were stylistically similar, but showed the iodine, soy and vegetal complexity that amplifies with age, and I scored all three 17.5 out of 20.
As for price, there is an unavoidable comparison with burgundy. As the prices of those wines continue to balloon, Pinot Noir from elsewhere becomes increasingly good value. At £32 or $60 per bottle, this is not a cheap bottle of wine; but it is a great-value bottle of top-class Pinot Noir. And although the winemakers at the Pinot Celebration balked at the idea of hiking prices, I expect they won’t be reducing them anytime soon.
So buy yourself one of Pinot Noir’s finest Australian expressions while you still can. The 2019 is available in the UK, Australia and the US, and a spread of other vintages can also be found via Wine-Searcher.com.
To find out about Pinot Noir at the other end of the scale, read Jancis's recent reviews of the newly released Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 2020 vintage, some of which reach nearly £4,000 per bottle.