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Home Winners > Winners 2012 > NEW WORLD: Pinot Noir, excluding New Zealand

Winner Details

New World: Pinot Noir – excluding New Zealand

Familiar oak-related failings did for Chile, but Australia, it seems, has really learned how to make elegant, cool-climate New World Pinot Noir

Interestingly, after years of pretty rapid growth, New World Pinots outside New Zealand was one of the categories that saw a dip in entries this year. Could it be that the producers are recognising the sheer difficulty of coaxing medal-winning wines out of their terroir?

Certainly, that would be a fair conclusion, because the injury rate among the rest of the New World Pinot-producing countries was akin to the Somme Offensive. A lot of entries were gunned down before they got anywhere near the medals line.

Chile was particularly badly affected, and apart from Casablanca it was a massacre, with no medals at all. Casablanca, though, can be pleased with its performance, with the Indomita managing to hit not just the stylistic cues that sommeliers were looking for (elegant and fresh with a hint of darker fruit and spice), but also the sub-Kiwi Pinot price bracket.

‘It was an elegant wine with clear varietal character and some nice complexity,’ said Galvin Restaurants’ Andrea Bricarello. ‘It would be a good choice for duck, or a table where fish and meat have been ordered. It’s a versatile wine.’

Overall, though, Chile’s performance here proved that too many producers are still attempting to grow the grape in the wrong places – and it ain’t working – and that (stuck-record time) there’s still a tendency towards over-oaking.

Australia,by contrast, seems to be further down the line on working out where the best sites are – and in having the confidence to let the grapes speak for themselves without too much oak. ‘Best sites’ for the most part means Victoria – three of the four medal winners came from within an hour’s drive of Melbourne – and the handling of them in the winery was exemplary.

‘You sometimes get an Australian Pinot and struggle to know what the grape is,’ said consultant Peter McCombie MW. ‘But most of the wines entered had a sense of being Pinot. They’re definitely getting lighter.’

‘I was happily surprised by Australian Pinot Noirs that are a little fresher and with less wood. You can taste the sunshine, but you also still get that herbal kick,’ agreed Terroirs’ Emilie Courtois.

For the US, it was like Chile in reverse. The lower-priced wines were sweet and over-oaked, and they got more elegant and restrained as the prices rose. If the States could learn how to produce decent cheap wines it would be dangerous.

Maybe they could take a few lessons from the Brazilians, who picked up one of the most unexpected Silvers in the competition with their Miolo Family Vineyards Pinot. Pour yourself a copa on the Copacabana…

‘I was very impressed with the Australian Pinots. They’re showing some great potential.’ Philippe Loiseau, Yauatcha