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Winner Details

New World: Pinot Noir - Australia

2019 Gold 3      Silver 3      Bronze 3      Commended 4
2018 Gold 1      Silver 4      Bronze 1      Commended 4

There’s nothing like a great rivalry to spice things up a bit. Think Joan Crawford and Bette Davis Frazier and Ali, Blur and Oasis. And now, in wine, I think we can safely add Australia and New Zealand. Of course the latter is a lot smaller than the former, and until recently they kind of concentrated on different things: Australia had Syrah and Chardonnay, while New Zealand was all about Sauvignon and Pinot.

But increasingly the Aussies seem to be muscling in on Kiwi territory. First in this year’s Sommelier Wine Awards they dominated the New World Rieslings, now they’re trying to plant their flag in Pinot, too. The Kiwis must be heartily sick of the sight of them.

This year’s three Golds and nine medals was the Aussies’ best haul with Pinot in this competition, and it’s not unexpected. Our tasters have been happy with what’s been coming in from Oz with this grape for a while, and though the prices are pretty ballsy, so is the winemaking: good fruit, whole bunch, stem work… it’s all there.

And if the prices were a little Burgundian, our tasting teams didn’t care: they see wines like this as a viable stylistic alternative, not a replacement.


‘You should absolutely have an Australian Pinot Noir on your list. Very versatile, with that lightness of touch and elegance. Australian Pinot Noir is doing very well at the moment, and you’ll probably find one that will suit your food at the right price point.’ Nigel Lister, team leader

‘A real dichotomy between the fruit-forward, easy-drinking, approachable styles and the guys that take themselves very seriously with some very clever winemaking – whole bunch, extra stems, low intervention. An impressive range.’ Claire Love, Loves Consultancy

‘Wines were either in or out, without much in between.’ Laurent Richet MS, team leader

‘All quite fruity, accessible Pinot Noir. I prefer the Burgundy style: richer, more interesting, more intriguing.’ Gabriele Bertotti, Maze by Gordon Ramsay

‘I’ve been a bit disappointed in the past, but it was really good this year. Nothing I wouldn’t be able to sell, that wouldn’t please people. Lots of winemaking going on, but that’s becoming part of the style.’ James Fryer, Woodhead 17

Award winners

Found 13 wines

New World: Pinot Noir, Australia

Sidewood, 777, Pinot Noir 2017, Adelaide Hills, South Australia, Australia

Gold medal winner

Delicacy and refinement seemed to be the watchwords for this aromatic, Gold medal-winning Pinot Noir. ‘This has such a lovely smoky nose with notes of bacon and tarragon,’ said Nelio Pinto of Candlesticks, adding: ‘There’s real depth to the wild strawberry fruit, but it’s the meaty flavours that suggest a pigeon and fois gras match.’ ‘There’s beautifully lifted strawberry and raspberry aromas,’ said The Royal Automobile Club’s Michael Fiducia, ‘plus there’s a touch of tea tree oil leading to a fresh minty finish.’ ‘The palate is so elegant,’ added Nut Tree Inn’s Sarah McKenzie, ‘and I really like the finish.’

£14.22 Davy's Wine Merchants

Tolpuddle, Pinot Noir 2017, Tasmania, Australia

Gold medal winner

There was praise all round for this Gold medal winner, with Nelio Pinto of Candlesticks calling it a ‘well-made wine which is beautifully balanced’, while Michael Fiducia of The Royal Automobile Club echoed these sentiments, saying: ‘It’s very well made with eucalyptus aromatics over a cherry and plum, savoury palate.’ Team leader Andres Ituarte thought it was ‘delicious now but will certainly age’, before suggesting that it ‘would be perfect with wild boar and Brussel sprouts’.

£36.02 Liberty Wines

Ocean Eight, Pinot Noir 2015, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia

Gold medal winner

Complex, funky and interesting were some of the adjectives used to describe this brilliant Gold medal winner, with Dave Cushley of Prestonfield House enjoying the ‘nicely dirty and funky nose’, and adding: ‘This is punchy, with crunchy cherry fruit and real interest and complexity; very clever wine making.’ Team leader Nigel Lister agreed, appreciating the ‘sweet, farmyard nose, plump, cushiony ripe fruit and skilful wine making’, suggesting it would be a great match for game. For Michael Fiducia of The Royal Automobile Club the nose was ‘a complex mix of cherry blossom, spice and earth’, which led to ‘soft, fleshy fruit across a wonderfully balanced palate’.

£25.83 Hallgarten & Novum Wines

Paringa Estate, Peninsula, Pinot Noir 2017, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia

Silver medal winner

Team leader Andres Ituarte thought this had a ‘kirsch-like, cough syrup note, yet was bright and fresh on the nose’. He went on to describe palate that was ‘well integrated with oak and just enough stemmy herbaceous character’.

£21.59 Hallgarten & Novum Wines

Josef Chromy, Pinot Noir 2016, Tasmania, Australia

Silver medal winner

‘Super-ripe… with strawberries, cherries and vanilla chantilly cream,’ said Michael Fiducia of The Royal Automobile Club, ‘yet it has a super soft roundness of palate.’

£17.40 Bibendum

Kooyong, Massale, Pinot Noir 2017, Victoria, Australia

Silver medal winner

Nielo Pinto of Candlesticks thought this Silver medal-winning wine had ‘notes of earth with a note of truffle and balsamic’, with ‘hay, coffee and nuts’ on the mid-palate.

£16.38 Enotria&Coe

Rob Dolan, White Label, Pinot Noir 2017, Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia

Bronze medal winner

Nielo Pinto of Candlesticks thought this Bronze medal winner had ‘lighter notes of bay leaves and nuts’, plus ‘a touch of sweetness and menthol tones to balance the fruit’.

£16.75 Rob Dolan Wines

Lethbridge, Menage a Noir, Pinot Noir 2017, Geelong, Australia

Bronze medal winner

Michael Fiducia from The Royal Automobile Club picked up ‘eucalyptus and red cherry aromas’ in this Bronze medal-winning wine, and praised its ‘soft and savoury palate’.

£16.54 Berkmann Wine Cellars

La La Land, Pinot Noir 2018, Victoria, Australia

Bronze medal winner

For team leader Andres Ituarte this well-priced Bronze medallist offered a sweeter style, with ‘cinnamon, confit, candied fruit, marshmallow and candy floss’.

£6.54 Berkmann Wine Cellars

Yering Station, Village, Pinot Noir 2017, Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia

Commended medal winner

£13.89 Bibendum

Shaw & Smith, Pinot Noir 2018, Adelaide Hills, South Australia, Australia

Commended medal winner

£20.92 Liberty Wines

Heirloom, Velvet Fog, Pinot Noir 2017, Adelaide Hills, South Australia, Australia

Commended medal winner

Stonier, Pinot Noir 2016, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia

Commended medal winner

£14.31 Matthew Clark