Australian Pinot Noir, introduced by Mark Davidson


To be honest, my perception of Australian Pinot Noir wasn’t the best. I didn’t know much about Australian Pinot and hadn’t heard many good things about it either. That all changed when I met Mark Davidson (pictured above).

Mid-morning on a Friday a couple months ago, a guy with a thick, Australian accent called up Portalis, introduced himself as Mark Davidson (Market Development Manager, Wine Australia USA), in Seattle from his current home base in Vancouver, and asked me if I would like to taste some “good” Australian Pinot Noir. I normally don’t taste on Fridays but I was quite curious. In he came with 14 different bottles of Australian Pinot (at varying price points), and almost all of them were pretty darn good. Mark had to catch a flight and left me with a mountain of wine. No complaints here. To make sure I was not hallucinating, I tasted some of these wines with some lucky customers who happened to be shopping for wine later in the afternoon. The response was great. We have featured several of these wines in our Portalis Wine Club, the Father’s Day Tasting next Sunday will be an opportunity to taste 4 of these wines, and the Cooralook is currently available by the glass at the wine bar.

Here is a little information about Australian Pinot Noir: Only 2.5% of the wine production in Australia is Pinot Noir. The main Pinot growing areas are Tasmania and the relatively cool Victorian regions (around Melbourne) of the Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula and Geelong. The Macedon Ranges wine region is still one of the best Pinot producing areas in the country and is home to the two famous producers Bindi & Curly Flat (both very limited!).  And here’s a little more info on each individual wine:

Cooralook 2009 Pinot Noir
$16.99 | Case $13.60
From the Strathbogie Ranges in Victoria. One of the best Pinot’s for the money. Tasting notes: Very attractive nose with herbal cherry and red berry notes. Good concentration & balance, with elegant flavors of spicy raspberry & cherry fruit with herbal components. Beautiful, tasty finish. Drink now.

Stonier 2005 Pinot Noir
REG $28.99 | Sale $22.99 | Case $18.39
From the Mornington Peninsula, a stunning producer (and still family-owned). Established in 1978 this is one of the oldest wineries on the Peninsula. The first Pinot Noir vines were planted in 1982.
Tasting notes: Wonderful aromas of strawberries & raspberries with some herbal components. Elegant, complex, with great acidity. Spicy, herbal, with some earthy richness and flavors of raspberries & cherries. Long finish with fine tannins. Well aged! Drink now.

Yabby Lake Vineyard 2006 Pinot Noir
REG $57.99 | Sale $52.99 | Case $42.39
This winery was founded in 1992 & is located in the Mornington Peninsula. Tasting notes: Intense aromas of black cherries & dark fruit. Lots going on here. Intense silky texture with great depth. Wonderful layers of dark fruit with some herbal & gamey elements. Long, persistent finish. This wine will age well. Drink now up to 10 years. All these wines match well with grilled salmon & tuna or roasted chicken would be great too.

Enjoy & cheers!
Jens (Owner, Portalis Wines)

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A lovely afternoon with Madame Schoenheitz


In May, we had the honor of hosting an afternoon tasting with Dominique Schoenheitz, co-owner & co-winemaker with her husband Henri Schoenheitz, of the Schoenheitz Estate in Alsace, France. The winery is family owned & located in the town Wihr-au-Val, where the Alsatian hills meet the Vosges Mountains. Dominique & Henri took over the winery in 1980 & produced high quality wines under the Alsace AOC label. They own some of the steepest slopes in the Alsace & produce some of the best wines in the appelation.  (Alsace is known primarily for white wines – Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gewuertztraminer & Muscat as well as a white sparkling known as Crément d’Alsace and Pinot Noir.) 

We had been told that Dominique was a little shy and may not be so keen on speaking in front of our tasting crowd, but she passionately led a very interested crowd throughout a 4-hour tasting, allowing some of our customers to experience a part of Alsace.  Here are the wines we tasted:

Schoenheitz NV Cremant D’Alsace $21.99 | Case $17.59
A sparkling wine made with Auxerois & Pinot Blanc. Lovely, delicate nose with fine floral & blossom aromas. Lovely flavors of lemon, green apple, with hints of peach & wonderful acidic freshness.  This sparkling did very well at the December 2009 Tasting Circle, scoring 92 points.

Schoenheitz  2007 Pinot Blanc Val St. Gregoire $16.99 | Case $13.59
Elegant aromas of lime, citrus, basil & minerals. Marvellous acidity, with flavors of citrus, ripe apples & some stone fruit. Good length all the way through  the finish.

Schoenheitz 2007 Riesling Vin D’Alsace REG $21.99 | Sale $16.99 | Case $13.59
A beautifully crafted wine. Aromas of grapefruit, citrus, with a touch of kerosene. Well-balanced, with wonderful acidity. Beautiful flavors of dried apricots, grapefruit, with some herbal & honey notes. Long finish. This wine was very popular at the tasting.

Schoenheitz 2006 Pinot Noir Herrenreben $24.99 | Case $19.99
Delightfully aromatic with strawberries & raspberries on the nose. Elegant, classy. Energetic but with silky texture. Flavors of ripe cherries & raspberries lead all the way through a long finish. Also very popular.

Cheers to Dominique! Keep the good wines coming.

Jens (Owner, Portalis Wines)