Authors Posts by Hawk Wakawaka

Hawk Wakawaka

A wine drawing philosopher with a heart of gold. aka. #firekitten


Discover small‑production wines that whisper to connoisseurs and collectors.


When people think of Sonoma wine, Pinot Noir comes first to mind, but the diversity of terroir makes the region suitable for both Burgundy and Bordeaux varietals to thrive. Sonoma’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean means cooler temperatures than in neighboring Napa Valley, and its 16 approved sub-appellations offer world-class wines across a range of styles. While its Burgundy varietals have taken center stage over the last few decades, the area first gained its foothold in winegrowing more than 100 years ago, through Zinfandel and field blends of mixed red grapes. Today, winemakers are preserving that heritage by turning to old-vine vineyards to create sumptuous new wines.

Adventurous connoisseurs are also looking to Sonoma for bottlings that most wine lovers look to Napa for—Cabernet Sauvignon. Elegant versions with the structure and tannins to age well can be found, often for a smaller investment, from some of Sonoma’s family vintners that dot the landscape. Read on for a selection of under-the-radar, handcrafted wines from some of our favorite producers that show off eight of the county’s sub-appellations. Embedded from Fort Ross–Seaview in the mountains along the coast to Carneros and the Russian River Valley to Sonoma Mountain on the county’s eastern side, these small-production vineyards are worth contacting directly to sample their best vintages.

To keep reading, continue to The Robb Report website for a slideshow look at what wines I’ve recommended from Sonoma worthy of gifting. The article is free-for-all to read.



This summer Mark Davidson interviewed me briefly to ask what I like about Australian wine, in particular Pinot Noir. The result is a 2 minute 2 second audio snapshot of what I’ve seen from the producers and wines through some Australian wine travel and persistent follow up tastings and meetings with vintners since.

In it I speak to the importance of tasting global wine as well as having the freedom to go deep at home, the character of Australian pinot, and what gives wine energy.

Here’s the recording:


To read more, check out Wine Australia’s write-up on the tasting done on Australian pinot noir at IPNC here:

Or, read my write up on the event here:



This year I decided to do as much hands on, boots on the ground harvest time as possible.

Last week I posted photos from my journalistic deep dive of 9 days shadowing the team led by Raj Parr and Sashi Moorman in the Sta Rita Hills and Eola-Amity Hills. Together they’re directing Domaine de la Cote, Sandhi, and Evening Land.

After leaving Lompoc, in Santa Barbara County, I drove north to the Dundee Hills in Willamette Valley where I stayed while working over the bend at the Carlton Winemakers’ Studio. In wanting to go deep in harvest this year I chose to start first as a journalist (see last week’s post) and then work as an intern. But working as an intern was tricky – I needed a place I really could really do the work but without being attached to any particular winery. The Carlton Winemakers’ Studio was a perfect option. There I got to do some of everything involved in the winemaking process, see lots of different approaches and fruit from all over both Oregon and parts of Washington. (The early signs look like good harvest quality.)

At the Studio winemakers can be as involved or not as they want. Some are there only to use the space and equipment while others are there in a full custom crush capacity having their wine made for them. There is also every possible scenario in between of getting help while also doing the work yourself. As a result, the Studio itself needs interns. So, I signed up and worked as an intern for two weeks.

After I was in Willamette Valley for just a couple more days to finish up writing work before hitting the road back to California to get in those vineyards and work on an article about Napa Valley wine.

Here’s a look at the Instagram collection I made while in Oregon.


Road Pho is the best pho. #headingnorth

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First stop Portland: Heart. ❤️ #coffee

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View from the top: checking Brix levels on Chenin from atop the three stack. #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines

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View from the sorting line: full country. #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines

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Evening view from the sorting line: country sunset. #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines

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Field note observations on the Great American Earwig: they need some moisture but not too much. They do not come in on very cold fruit, nor on fruit from warmer sites. They do come in on fruit from moderately cooler sites . They seem to like fruit that is not excessively acidic. They go either under things or all the way to the top of things. Some portion of them can definitely survive a light press load but perhaps not the hard press. A high portion can definitely survive the destemmer. When you smash them they smell peppery. Have not determined yet how they do through laundry. They eat aphids so are beneficial. They tend to group near gardens. They are all over me. They like my hair. #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines

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Punch downs up high on Pinot Noir. #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines

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Exceptional Pinot coming in this morning. #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines

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So, this is good. That is all. #willamettevalley #vermouthfromwillametteforthewin #vermouth

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Yum. #willamettevalley @wvwines

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Doing cold soak on Pinot destemmed last night. #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines

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Behold the wonders of organic farming. #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines

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Doing pH and TA measurements on Pinot noir. #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines

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Brilliant and hilarious substitute. #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines

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Classic Oregon: marion berry pie for harvest lunch. #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines

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I have always like pressure washing. That is all. #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines

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Moving Pinot Gris between tanks. #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines

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Sample tasting Euro press versus Basket press cuts on Chardonnay. #willamettevalley @eyrievineyards @wvwines

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Steak and champagne. Harvest perfect pairing. Thank you, love. #willamettevalley

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Post Punch downs prime palm reading opportunity. #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines

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All about roses, so pretty and delicious. #willamettevalley @remywines @wvwines

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And there it is, the close of almost four weeks of harvest. One of my goals for the year was to spend harvest as boots on the ground, hands in as possible. In Lompoc I spent a week and a half shadowing the team led by @sashimoorman and @rajatparr joining in on cellar work as part of better understanding how their views of wine inform their winemaking philosophy and then become tangible choices through vintage and harvest. It was a great opportunity to continuously move between the big picture view, through interviews and discussions while also tasting, and the decisions of actual winemaking. Sashi and I have had an on going conversation about his winemaking views for several years now and diving in so fully was the best next step to give that conversation traction. I am grateful for the generosity and trust he and Raj showed in letting me truly see what they do. From Lompoc I drove north to Willamette to work at the Carlton Winemakers Studio. Anthony King (here second front from left) knew I wanted to work harvest so when he realized their team at the Studio needed help during the peak of the season he called to ask if I’d join them as an intern. Shown here is the team I got to be part of for two weeks at the Studio – from left, Ben, Anthony, Christina, myself, and Jeff in the back. Anthony, Jeff and Ben were excellent teachers and Christina a pleasure to work with. I was glad to reconnect with the strength and endurance I was raised with commercial fishing through the brute work of wine harvest, inspired to be part of a team again and reassured too to have the time this last month to give all this persistent study I’ve been doing in wine these last years further grounding. I really dislike the idea of being full of shit and tend to be overly thorough in whatever I do to resolve that. More than that though I just love knowing how things work and value full immersion as learning. I’ll never believe, I think, that I know much when it comes to wine but I am hugely grateful for the patience, generosity, humor, hard work and camaraderie shown me by the team in Lompoc and here. I miss you guys. Hugs to you all from the road #willamettevalley @crltnwinestudio @wvwines

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Thoughts from tasting samples today made from a vineyard I have visited again and again…

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To check out how my harvest in the Sta Rita Hills and Eola-Amity Hills went, read more about it here:

Copyright 2016 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to


I spent over a month deep in harvest this year here on the West Coast of the United States.

First, I did a journalistic deep dive following the team led by Raj Parr and Sashi Moorman in Lompoc for nine days through harvest getting first hand insight into the winemaking that goes into their three labels – Domaine de la Cote, Sandhi, and Evening Land – and a little bit of Piedrasassi and Combe as well. It was an incredible opportunity to truly see how they make their wines, shadowing the team in every stage of harvest from calling picks all the way through barreling down after fermentations are complete. The first seven days were spent with their team in their winery in Lompoc processing fruit from Sta Rita Hills. Then for two days Sashi and I went to the southern part of Willamette Valley so I could shadow the team there working with fruit from the Seven Springs Vineyard for their Evening Land project. The nine days were non-stop busy with full harvest hours.

After checking out the Seven Springs project, we flew back to Santa Barbara County and I drove from Lompoc to the northern part of Willamette Valley to work as an intern at the Carlton Winemakers’ Studio. More on that later.

I’ll be writing over the next months in a few different ways about my time with Sashi and Raj, but for now, here’s a look back at the Instagram collection from harvest with them and their team to give you a better sense of what harvest looked like. Integral to their philosophy about wine and winemaking is tasting wines from around the world that connect to the wine type or variety they are making, as well as enjoying wines that they admire, so there are also photos of some of those wines we tasted along the way.


Owning Trousseau. @rajatparr @duncanarnot @ownrooted

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Syrah? Yes.

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Chardonnay juice fresh picked this morning for Sandhi. #santabarbaracountywine @sandhiwines

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The actual wines from the 2011 Syrah blind tasting? … @sashimoorman @rajatparr

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There are clear reasons someone like Raj Parr has risen to such prominence and regard in the world of wine. The wines he has tasted repeatedly at different ages and stages in his life is one. His tasting experience revolves around the finest, rarest and oldest classical wines of the world. The memory he has for what truly seems like any wine he tastes is another. He can readily recount what wine he was drinking in what year and talk easily about how it tastes that time versus another time when he drank it again. The incisive clarity with which he combines these assets of tasting history and memory for it though ultimately deserves the regard he’s gained. It’s a level of insight few have. Last night he let me read through his November 1998 notebook written during his first trip to Burgundy while working as a sommelier at Rubicon as the assistant to Larry Stone. In the back were also loose pages of other wines tasted in the same time period. There I found this tasting note for the 1865 Lafite, a wine he has enjoyed again many times since, and continues to view as one of the best wines he has had in his life. Just his description here of the wine and his response to it captures for me so much about how Raj views wine, what he values in it, what he loves and that coupled with following the Domaine de la Côte crew this week has shined a light into what this Pinot project is about. The conversations with Raj, Sashi and John have been invaluable and their kindness in letting me do grunt work and be part of everything. It’s been a huge honor to have this time and I am super grateful for being given these glimpses, like this notebook, of lives lived in pursuit of beauty, taste, service and excellence. @rajatparr @sashimoorman @domainedelacote

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Oh, Pierre, you big tease. I love you. #champagne

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Holy moly this is good. Indian street food from Bollywood Theatre, Portland. #indianfoodforthewin

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Strange beauty full of intrigue and so alluring. Wonderful wine. #champagne

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Rain in Willamette Valley. #willamettevalley

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Walking Seven Springs Vineyard #Repost @sashimoorman

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To check out how my harvest in the Willamette Valley went, read about it here:

Copyright 2016 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to

View from Howell Mountain

Elaine’s review last week of Cabernets with the general Napa Valley appellation stirred up some strong reactions, including on our members’ forum. She addresses some of the issues raised by the first of her two articles on Napa Cabernets in this introduction to the second one, a report on a total of 90 Cabernets with one of the many Napa Valley sub-appellations described below. A report on Napa Merlots will follow. Elaine’s picture was taken on Howell Mountain.

The over-arching region and AVA of Napa Valley includes 16 sub-appellations ranging in their combination of growing conditions – elevation, soil types, drainage, mesoclimate – to create unique subzones that offer their own stylistic range and expression.

Producers within Napa Valley can chose to label their wines with the Napa Valley appellation as long as 85% or more of the fruit going into their wine is from the region. Labelling requirements for the sub-AVAs of Napa Valley are similar. For a wine to be labelled with one of the 16 sub-appellations the wine must be made predominantly from fruit grown in that subzone. Additionally, any of the sub-AVAs fully within Napa County must include reference to Napa on the label. For example, a wine from the Rutherford AVA has to be labelled with both Rutherford and Napa Valley. The two exceptions are Carneros, which stretches across both Napa and Sonoma Counties, and Wild Horse Valley, which includes land in Solano as well as Napa County. (See the online World Atlas of Wine map of Napa Valleyfor many of the sub-AVAs.)

Many of the most delicious wines of the region come from producers focused intently on specific subzones who label their wine with their relevant sub-appellation. In many cases, the growing conditions of a specific sub-AVA are expressed in the bottle.

To keep reading, heading on over to where the article continues. You’ll need a subscription to read it.

Here’s the direct link:

Subscription to is £8.50 a month or £85 per year ($12.20/mo or $122 a year for you Americans) and includes searchable access to the new 4th edition of the Oxford Companion to Wine ($65) and the 7th edition to the World Atlas of Wine ($50) as part of the subscription costs, as well as interactive discussions on the Purple Pages. Click here to sign up.

From the Mayacamas looking into Napa Valley

In the first of two major reports on current releases of Napa Valley appellation Cabernets, her first for, Elaine Chukan Brown reviews 57 wines, but finds frustratingly few to get excited about. A report on Cabernets labelled with one of Napa Valley’s 16 sub-appellations will follow. Elaine’s picture looking east over fog in the Napa Valley was taken from 1,800 feet up in the Mayacamas Mountains.

With its dry Mediterranean climate, Napa Valley offers ideal growing conditions for vines and, with good farming, the potential for abundant flavour with resolved tannins and plenty of natural acidity. Even so, economic pressures from land prices and labour shortages currently dominate the region, making Napa Valley Cabernet one of the most expensive wines in the world to farm. So, while vintners in the region benefit from propitious weather and overall growing conditions, they need to produce wines at high prices in order to afford production costs.

The result, unfortunately, means the average price for a bottle of Napa Valley Cabernet is substantial. Retail prices per bottle are generally well over $100, easily reaching upwards of $200 and more. Exceptions occasionally appear from producers who have owned their property for decades. Among Cabernets carrying the all-encompassing Napa Valley appellation, Stony Hill Cabernet at $60 is one of the most affordable quality examples, with lovely purity throughout. The Galerie Plein Air at $50 was another nice surprise offering the firm structure and ageing potential of the 2013 vintage with varietal character married to judicious oak presence. (Other examples can also be found in wines labelled with one of the 16 Napa Valley sub-appellations to be described in my next instalment).

To keep reading, heading on over to where the article continues. You’ll need a subscription to read it.

Here’s the direct link:

Subscription to is £8.50 a month or £85 per year ($12.20/mo or $122 a year for you Americans) and includes searchable access to the new 4th edition of the Oxford Companion to Wine ($65) and the 7th edition to the World Atlas of Wine ($50) as part of the subscription costs, as well as interactive discussions on the Purple Pages. Click here to sign up.


Winemaker Trials: Finding Consistency from Vintage to Vintage


The commitment Sonoma-Cutrer brings to researching and testing in its oak program has allowed the winery to offer a consistent style year to year
Sep 2016 Issue of Wine Business Monthly

Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards was founded in 1973 on the idea of quality Chardonnay. The winery has since added Pinot Noir to its portfolio, but its production remains primarily with the white variety. Integral to the success of Sonoma-Cutrer has been its ability to deliver a consistent style vintage to vintage while also clearly distinguishing between each of its individual cuvées.

The winery produces five distinct Chardonnays annually. The Russian River Ranches and Sonoma Coast labels serve as its widely available appellation blends. At the reserve level, Sonoma-Cutrer also produces two vineyard designates, Les Pierres and The Cutrer. For the wine club, The Founder’s Reserve Chardonnay includes the winemaking team’s favorite small lot cuvée from that vintage, which changes year to year. Across all five brands, 85 percent of the Chardonnay is fermented in standard-size oak barrels. As a result, the barrel program is integral to winemaking at Sonoma-Cutrer.

Sonoma-Cutrer Barrel Trials

Sonoma-Cutrer winemaker Cara Morrison leads extensive annual barrel testing. The trials allow the winery team to taste test different coopers and wood sources as well as different toast levels and styles—every year, 60 individual barrel types are chosen, and two of each selection are ordered. All 120 barrels are kept in the barrel trial over a three-year period, and refilled each vintage to check the flavor profile after fermentation, for each of the three years. They have been doing the yearly barrel trials in this way for more than a decade.

To keep reading this article head on over the where the article appears free-for-all. It is also published in their September 2016 edition of Wine Business Monthly. You can find it there on page 60. 

Here’s the link to the article online:

View from the top of Pence Ranch

The TTB, the American wine regulatory body, today announces the official expansion of the Sta Rita Hills AVA by 2,296 acres. The controversial ruling will become effective on 21 September.

The expansion of this highly successful appellation comes as a result of a petition filed by geographer Patrick Shabram in March 2013 on behalf of the owners of Pence Ranch and John Sebastiano Vineyards, both of which will be fully included within the newly expanded area. Sebastiano Vineyard sits largely within the original AVA boundaries but a small portion of the property, currently planted largely to Rhône varieties, is currently outside the eastern border. Sebastiano Pinot Noir is planted entirely within the already established appellation. Sebastiano Vineyard has been a fruit source for numerous vintners from throughout Santa Barbara County. Pence Ranch, to the east of Sebastiano Vineyards, sits entirely outside the current appellation and will now be included in the newly expanded Sta Rita Hills AVA. Seen above is the view from the top of Pence Ranch which operates its own Pence winery and also sells fruit to vintners throughout the extended region. As a result of the approved expansion, any vintners who bottle wine on or after 21 September 2016 from vineyards within the expanded area will now be able to label those wines with the Sta Rita Hills AVA. Previously they would have been labeled Santa Ynez Valley.

The request for expansion was met with intense opposition within the Santa Barbara winemaking community.

To keep reading, heading on over to where the article continues. This article appears there free for all. 

Here’s the direct link:

Subscription to is £8.50 a month or £85 per year ($12.20/mo or $122 a year for you Americans) and includes searchable access to the new 4th edition of the Oxford Companion to Wine ($65) and the 7th edition to the World Atlas of Wine ($50) as part of the subscription costs, as well as interactive discussions on the Purple Pages. Click here to sign up.

To read more on the Sta Rita Hills expansion and the arguments both for and against:

Wine & Spirits Insider’s Guide

W&S Fall 2016For the Autumn edition of Wine & Spirits Magazine the team got together and created their 1st annual Insider’s Guide. As editor-in-chief Josh Greene describes in his opening letter for the issue, “Ask an elitest if you want a grand cru. Ask an obsessive wine geek if you want to discover a taste that’s new to you.”

The collection brings together 50 wine obsessives, as he calls them, that have devoted their time to understanding the specifics of a particular place and become a niche expert as a result. Each expert was asked to discuss the particularities of the place and select 6 wines that, when tasted, show the range of the particular region. As Greene explains, “We did not ask for favorites, or for them to present the wines they think of as “the best.” Instead, we challenged them to show the depth and breadth of their favorite region through a tight selection—six wines to consider if you want to know the region.”

It’s a wonderful issue with an incredible range of experts contributing their insights looking at some of the most classic, and the most exciting regions of the world, including a few that are devoted to particular types of spirits.

To see the impressive list of experts and regions, check out the Table of Contents here:

I am pleased to be part of the collection as well.

Speaking on Napa Valley Cabernet, Graeme MacDonald took me on a walk around his family’s vineyard in the historic To Kalon and we drank through classics of Napa Valley together and discussed them. I am thrilled to have written up his interview and to see him included among the distinguished group of people on the cover.

Sharing his love for Walla Walla Syrah, Kevin Pogue spoke to me about the unique growing conditions of the region and the way his selection of 6 wines showcase that. Pogue is a geologist that specializes in terroir and carries a deep and abiding love for Syrah, so he’s an apt speaker on the subject. It was a lot of fun to speak with him, then travel to Walla Walla to taste through the wines he suggested and write up his interview.

The folks at Wine & Spirits also asked if I would share my own insights on a region for the issue. As a result, I was able to select 6 wines that communicate the dynamic range of pinot from the Coastal Mountains of the Sonoma Coast. It’s so much fun to be a cartoon drawn in the same pages as so many friends that I admire and respect. It’s like we’re all there together enjoying one of the best wine parties on earth.

The 1st Annual Insider’s Guide just hit newstands this week. Check it out!



International Pinot Noir Celebration

One of the finest wine events in the world happens at the end of July every year in Willamette Valley. The International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) brings together pinot noir lovers from around the world to focus on the best of the variety over four days.

On the first night, host wineries from across Willamette Valley feature their own wines as well as those of guest wineries from other regions with food made by some of the best chefs of the Pacific Northwest. Festivities take off on the second and third days with a mix of off campus vineyard visits and seminars as well as on campus classes and tastings. The main event is the Grand Seminar, a master class on whatever aspect of pinot noir takes the stage that year.

In 2016, pinot noir of Australia won the focus bringing 14 of the best examples of the country as well as many of the winemakers behind them.

Australia: Pinot Noir Master Class

IPNC Australia Master Class

from left: Tom Carson, Michael Hill Smith, James Halliday

Panel hosts James Halliday, Michael Hill Smith and Tom Carson guided the 400+ person audience each of two days through an in-depth look at 14 Australian pinot noirs grown from sub-zones of Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. Additionally winemakers Michael Dhillon, Peter Dawson, Mac Forbes and Mike Symons spoke about their regions and wines standing from the audience.

Michael Hill Smith, the first person to pass the Master of Wine exam in Australia, moderated the session guiding us through a thorough-going discussion of pinot noir in Australia as well as of the 14 wines presented and their regions. Wines were poured in two flights of seven. Additionally, the IPNC team offered us an impressive booklet of information to round out the master class concept of the seminar.

History and Conditions of Australian Pinot Noir

As described by Michael Hill Smith and James Halliday, pinot noir arrived in Australia within the original collection of grapevine cuttings to reach the continent, the Busby collection of 1831. The first cuttings were taken from Clos Vougeot and has established itself throughout pinot noir regions of the country as clone MV6 (Mother Vine 6 – so bad ass).

First attempts to succeed with pinot in Australia proved difficult so the variety did not truly take hold until the last century. Much of its growth has occurred since the 1960s. By 2015, 4948 hectares of pinot noir were planted with 43,223 tonnes produced that year across the country by 950 growers and winemakers. Today the focus in Australia is to make site expressive pinot noir, rather than attempting to emulate other regions.

Much of the pinot noir planted in Australia has been established with own-root vines. However, in the last decades phylloxera has taken hold in some of the pinot noir producing regions. Strict quarantines of those regions has helped slow its progress but nevertheless, vintners of Australia are now forced to grapple with finding best rootstocks in the midst of losing old vine sites.

Australian Pinot Noir Regions and the Wines

The Australian contingent IPNC

front left Mike Symons, sitting beside Michael Dhillon; front right Peter Dawson sitting beside Mac Forbes

REGION: Yarra Valley

Our tasting for the Grand Seminar began with a focus on the province of Victoria and a first look at its sub-region the Yarra Valley. As we were informed, 135 wineries produce pinot noir in the region an hour east from Melbourne. The region hosts a predominately continental climate with moderate to steep hillsides between 50 and 1000 meters in elevation. Soils tend towards ancient sandy clay loam and younger red volcanics.

WINE: Coldstream Hills 2015 Deer Farm Vineyard Pinot Noir Yarra Valley Victoria

Coldstream Hills was founded in 1985 by James Halliday and has since become part of the Treasury Wine Estates. The primary focus for Coldstream Hills rests with pinot noir and chardonnay with also some production of merlot, sauvignon blanc and shiraz as well.

The Deer Farm Vineyard pinot from Coldstream Hills is made when vintage conditions support single vineyard quality. In 2015 it was made with 50% new puncheons. The wine features a perfumed and herbal lift from a body of zesty, mixed red and dark fruits and a long mineral-spice spine offering plenty of concentration on an otherwise lighter bodied wine.

WINE: * Mac Forbes 2014 Woori Yallock Pinot Noir Yarra Valley Victoria

Mac Forbes established his eponymous brand after having worked previously at the iconic Mount Mary in the Yarra, with Dirk Niepoort in Portugal, and in vineyards throughout Austria. His focus remains primarily with pinot noir while also being known for his chardonnay and riesling.

In the Yarra Valley the 2014 vintage brought the concentration and focus of the smaller bunches with the hens-and-chicks berries of a wet and windy spring. The 2014 Woori Yallock carries subtle and lifted aromatics with an ultra stimulating and lighter bodied palate washed through with finessed mixed fruits, tons of sapidity, nuance and length.

WINE: Mount Mary Vineyard 2013 Pinot Noir Yarra Valley Victoria 

Founded in 1971 by the late John Middleton, today Mount Mary Vineyards hosts John’s grandson, Sam Middleton, as winemaker. Mount Mary holds one of the finest reputations for Australian pinot noir, considered a leader in the early contemporary push to understand quality expressions of the variety in the country.

With broader aromatics and palate than the other two Yarra Valley pinots, the Mount Mary 2013 shows the attributes of a slightly warmer vintage. It offers an ultra long zesty palate lifted by a perfume of cultivated flowers sprinkled through with spice. Lots of sapidity and silky tannin carry through a long finish.

REGION: Mornington Peninsula

With 80 wineries in the Mornington Peninsula producing pinot noir, the region sits an hour southeast of Melbourne. Sitting alongside the Southern Ocean, the Peninsula hosts a maritime climate with gently rolling slopes and a mix of soils.

WINE: * Stonier Family Vineyard 2015 Pinot Noir Mornington Peninsula Victoria

Founded in 1978, Stonier stands as one of the founding wineries of the Mornington Peninsula. The focus rests in pinot noir and chardonnay made by winemaker Mike Symons.

The Stonier 2015 presents compact and earthy with a zesty red fruit palate and a long stimulating finish. A pleasure.

WINE: Paringa Estate 2014 Pinot Noir Mornington Peninsula Victoria 

Established in 1985 by winemaker Lindsay McCall, Paringa Estate established both pinot noir and shiraz in an abandoned orchard of the Mornington Peninsula. Not yet available in the United States. 

Full of zesty fruit, the 2014 Paringa Estate offers a compact and focused palate with lots of sapidity and a long spiced finish.

WINE: Yabby Lake 2013 Block 2 Pinot Noir Mornington Peninsula Victoria

Founded by the Kirby Family in 1998, Tom Carson serves as the Yabby Lake winemaker with a focus on pinot noir and chardonnay. Not yet available in the United States. 

Aromatics with just a hint of funk turn to musk on the palate with a mineral sprinkled focus on zesty fruit and a long wash of acidity.

REGION: Macedon Ranges

One of the smallest and youngest areas for pinot noir in Australia, the Macedon Ranges an hour and a half north of Melbourne, host 37 wineries producing pinot noir. The area celebrates a cool to cold continental climate with elevated vineyard standing 500m above sea level in a mix of extremely old soils of mudstone, sandstone mixed through with quartz and other volcanics.

WINE: * Bindi 2014 Kaye Pinot Noir Macedon Ranges Victoria

One of the hallmark pinot noir producers of Victoria, Bindi helped bring attention to the quality wine possible from the Macedon Ranges. Established in 1988 by father and son team Bill and Michael Dhillon. Today, Michael continues the legacy he began with his late father with a focus on estate grown pinot noir and chardonnay.

The Bindi 2014 Kaye carries an earthy mix of perfumed dark fruits and a sense of delicacy through ample concentration riding all the way through a long finish. Tactile and stimulating tannin and a palate full of sapidity, this wine offers a nice balance of finesse, complexity and length.

Tasting in flights, IPNC

REGION: Gippsland

38 wineries make pinot noir in Gippsland two and a half hours east of Melbourne.

WINE: Bass Phillip 2013 Premium Pinot Noir Gippsland Victoria

Founded in 1979 by Phillip Jones to make small quantities of artisanal pinot noir, Bass Phillip relies on high density planting in an ultra cool climate.

Notes of musk and forest floor and a lengthy waft of perfume move on the palate to zesty, mineral-tumbled notes with a lengthy finish.

REGION: Geelong

50 wineries produce pinot in the Geelong region of Victoria just an hour southwest of Melbourne just opposite Port Phillip Bay from Mornington.

WINE: * By Farr 2012 Sangreal Pinot Noir Geelong Victoria

Established in 1994 by Gary Farr, By Farr quickly became one of the best known and respected producers of the country. Son Nick Farr today serves as winemaker making estate pinot noir with a focus on whole bunch fermentation.

Notes of pit fruit tested by citrus on the nose are accented by hints of cigar box and touches of forest floor with dried rose leaf in the mouth. A lovely light frame with impressive complexity.

REGION: Tasmania

124 wineries make pinot in Tasmania. The region is known primarily for two established growing zones, the Coal River Valley and the Huon Valley. The Coal River Valley in the southern part of the island is both cool and dry leading to low disease pressure and good fruit quality. The Huon Valley is the southernmost and coolest portion of the island with a wet maritime climate and a small concentration of vineyard plantings. Tasmania as a whole is both cold and relatively dry with a relatively long season.

WINE: Home Hill 2014 Estate Pinot Noir Tasmania

Terry and Rosemary Bennet established Home Hill Estate to pinot noir in 1994 with Gilli and Paul Lipscombe today serving as winemakers. Eventually chardonnay and sylvaner were also added. Not yet available in the United States. 

Notes of dried leaves and flowers move into a musky palate with plenty of length and a focus on intrigue.

WINE: * Tolpuddle Vineyard 2014 Pinot Noir Tasmania

Tolpuddle Vineyard was originally established in 1988 and were purchased in 2011 by Michael Hill Smith and Martin Shaw. The site sits in the Coal River Valley with a focus on pinot noir.

Note of musk and rose potpourri with plum and cherry pits and a flash of nectarine carry nose through a long, stimulating palate.

WINE: Dawson James 2014 Pinot Noir Tasmania

Founded in 2010 by Peter Dawson and Tim James, Dawson James has already had success with pinot noir from Tasmania. Not yet available in the United States. 

Fresh cut peach and cherry with a focused presentation and zesty, mineral length, the Dawson James 2014 offers nice purity with plenty of concentration and a lithe frame.

REGION: Adelaide Hills South Australia

74 wineries produce pinot noir in the Adelaide Hills region of South Australia. The Piccadilly Valley hosts the Ashton Hills winery represented at IPNC, and offers the coolest growing conditions of the larger region sitting at around 570 meters of elevation. The area is greeted by rainfall throughout the season.

WINE: * Ashton Hills 2014 Reserve Pinot Noir Adelaide Hills South Australia

Founded in 1982 by Stephen George, who still serves too as winemaker, Ashton Hills has worked extensively with the range of pinot noir clones available in Australia to identify the best suited cuttings for the region. Today he relies on five. In 2015, George sold his estate to Wirra Wirra and still lives on the property offering insight to the practice.

Showing evergreen freshness throughout and a spiced jalapeño snap the 2014 Ashton Hills is intriguing, distinctive and savory with accents of forest floor and a long finish.

REGION: Southern Fleurieu South Australia

With only 3 wineries producing pinot noir, the Fleurieu Peninsula succeeds with the variety primarily in the highest and coolest elevations. The area is very maritime with extremely old sand stones and in the Foggy Hill Vineyard very low fruiting wines to stay close to the warmth of the stoney surface.

WINE: Tapanappa 2012 Foggy Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir Southern Fleurieu South Australia

Established in 2002 by Briane and Ann Croser, Tapanappa is one of the very few wineries of Southern Fleurieu making pinot noir. Brian serves as winemaker with a focus on pinot from the Foggy Hill Vineyard, considered a founding vineyard in the region for the variety. Tapanappa also works with other warmer sites to grow cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, merlot, and chardonnay. Not yet available in the United States. 

With notes of candied melon and powdered berry (not sweet) on the nose flavors of spiced chili and a savory core appear on the palate with lightly tactile tannin and an ultra long finish. Distinctive.

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