I bought the 2012 vintage from Brian Franklin back in August 2017, but I didn’t do a promo straight away as I thought I’d wait for some ratings.
After all these years, you’d think I would know better.
Brian doesn’t send his wines to raters (his wines sell out to his loyal clients) and only very occasionally will a bottle find its way to a review.
So here’s what I know about the 2012 Pinot.
First thing, it comes from about as far east as you can go in Tasmania, from a vineyard a little to the north of Bicheno. It was released after the 2013 vintage as Brian wanted to hold it back to let it soften a bit more. It was a big wine at youth (the only way Brian makes them) and it needed that extra time.
I”ll stick my neck out and say that it’s the last Pinot to be picked anywhere in Australia. It’s certainly the last to be picked in Tasmania, with picking usually taking place in the first week of May. Hell, on the mainland some Pinots would be picked, bottled, labelled and out to customers by then!
I can tell you that it’s listed in one of the MBS celebrity restaurants in Singapore, and it’s a personal favourite of one of the celebrity chefs.
I can also tell you that you should avoid drinking it.
Whoa! that might have stopped you in your tracks…but let me finish.
If you can, you should try and avoid drinking it without a big decant. Without a decant, it can be a bit pongy, and you’ll wonder what the fuss is about. But give it a big decant, and it will sing and you’ll underatnd why the loyal followers stay loyal. How big? Overnight if you can resist, but as a minimum, I’d let it breathe for an hour.
The wine is currently on the Apsley Gorge website ( http://apsleygorgevineyard.com) at A$65, but is being sold at the Pinot Shop in Launceston at A$75. It’s S$74 here and currently all of it is in Melbourne (18 bottles) so it can be here by around 9 August if ordered by 31 July. As usual, no minimum purchsase required.
You will always find a bottle of Apsley Gorge pinot in my cellar.
The review by Gary Walsh in the promo attached talks about leaving this wine open for a day, or leaving it alone for a year or two.
Given that his rating was made in May 2015, that “year or two” has now passed and this wine should be nicley aged. I bought it in August 2015 so it’s been quietly ageing since then in my Victoria coolroom where my commercial wines are held at around 14C.
But let’s get back to the “leave it open for a day”.
Many consumers believe a wine should be drunk immediately upon opening otherwise there is a fear that the wine will deteriorate (i.e oxidise) and become less enjoyable, even undrinkable in a relatively short period of time. I think this certainly holds true for some wines like Sauvignon Blanc that needs that zippy freshness to remain, or on some older, perhaps fragile wines that can fade very quickly in the glass. Most natural wines have very little protection against oxidation (i.e very little or no sulphur) so consuming them early is safest.
But I’m in the camp that that likes to decant everything, and I’m more than happy to carry a wine over to the next day if I think it will improve with more airing. From my experience, many Rieslings drink better the day after opening, and can reward even several days later. Apsley Gorge Pinot can disappoint if “popped and poured” but give it a long decant, or better still a whole day open, and it’s a different wine.
Ditto with the Mayer Pinots. Decanting and patience will be rewarded.
And perhaps still with this Chardonnay.
HOME HILL “Kelly’s Reserve” Tasmania Pinot Noir 2016 – 60 btls – $77 – not yet rated
LA VIOLETTA “Le Rayon V” Great Southern Cabernet Malbec 2015 – 12 btls – $77 – Mike Bennie 94+
MEWSTONE D’Entrecasteaux Channel Tasmania Riesling – 12 btls – S$63 – Halliday 95
If you’ll excuse the pun, Brown Magpie wines tend to fly under the radar even in Australia. They have an extremely loyal following in Geelong and that’s where most of their wines get sold, but it’s not a well-known brand in other parts of Australia. Tiger Wines is the only distributor they have outside of Australia so you get to see what few others do elsewhere.
Some of you purchased this wine back in March 2015 when it was first released at A$40, but I purchased this stock only last year when it was re-released at A$60. Hence the jump in price here to S$73.
Halliday suggests it should be at least 5 years before opening, ie. 2018, so you should still put it away for another year if you have the patience.
From my memory of drinking this wine, it is a big pinot, not unlike in style to the pinots that come from Brian Franklin at Apsley Gorge. And like Apsley Gorge, a big decant is highly recommended.
2016 Mewstone Tasmania Chardonnay – 12 btls – S$74 – Campbell Mattinson 94
2016 Mewstone Tasmania Pinot Noir – 12 btls – $74 – Campbell Mattinson 95
2016 Hughes & Hughes Tasmania Pinot Noir – 12 btls – $54 – Campbell Mattinson 93
During my many trips to the East Coast of Tasmania, I’d driven past Gala Estate without giving it a second thought. I was usually on my way to catch up with Freycinet Vineyards further down the road or Apsley Gorge at Bicheno. Gala Estate is in the town of Cranbrook which literally lives up to the old saying “blink and you’ll miss it”.
What caught my attention, and prompted a visit in April, was the awards that Gala Estate had started winning, especially Trophy Gold and Best Red Wine of the Show for their 2013 Gala Estate “Constable Amos” Pinot Noir at the 2016 Tassie Wine Show. I met with Adam and Grainne at the cottage cellar door, and was very impressed but slightly worried by their strategy. Impressed, because they have a very clear plan that they want to sell as much of their wine as possible direct to the end consumer. That means cellar door and wine club members, and very little left over for trade. Worried, because I thought I might not get any wine for my Singapore customers.
In the end, Adam & Grainne concluded that my approach is strongly aligned with theirs, so I was able to secure 2 cases of the Constable Amos (now all gone), and a tiny batch of this and another Riesling. It’s becoming increasingly clear that if one wants wines from boutique, and even mid-size producers in Tasmania, one has to visit them. Oh well, I’ll just have to keep doing that!
This 2014 Late Harvest Riesling scored a Gold medal at the 2016 Tasmanian Wine Show. It’s a 375ml bottle.
I may be able to get more, but right now, this is all I’ve got.
For the record, the alcohol is 9.4%