Finding a home in Australia

Pinot Noir was one of the varieties brought into Australia in the Busby collection in the 1830s. What was then labelled as the MV6 clone (Mother Vine 6) is still grown in many areas.

It has taken time for this notoriously difficult grape to find success but it is now thriving in the cooler viticultural regions across the country.

Pinot Noir snapshot

  • The challenges of growing Pinot Noir are well documented. 
  • This notoriously fickle variety likes temperate climates so in Australia it creates the best wines in regions with cooling influences from either the ocean or high altitude. 
  • Pinot Noir is very successful in many regions in the state of Victoria and produces a wide range of styles across Australia.

In the vineyard

  • True origin is of the variety is still unknown – it is thought to have been around for 2,000 years
  • Our “heritage clone” MV6 is still widely cultivated today – newer Dijon clones arrived in the mid 1990s
  • Pinot Noir is a notoriously fickle variety that is difficult to cultivate
  • Early budding and relatively early ripening – susceptible to spring frosts as a result
  • Produces the best results in temperate climates and when yields are kept low
  • Delicate, thin skinned and prone to issue with botrytis bunch rot, downy and powdery mildew
Regions

Pinot Noir needs a temperate climate so it is most successful in Australian regions where vineyards receive cooling effects from proximity to the ocean or altitude.

Styles

Light to medium bodied wines with signature cherry and strawberry fruit. Regional differences abound but in general top Pinot Noir from Australia is restrained in nature.

Qualities

The noted challenges of growing and making Pinot Noir mean that the most successful wines are inherently premium in style and quality.

4,950ha
Total plantings (2015)
1830s
First plantings

In the winery

Vinification techniques
  • Pinot Noir can be a challenging variety to vinify
  • Fermentation temperature is a topic of discussion – warmer versus cooler
  • Pre-fermentation cold soaks are used to enhance aromatics
  • Whole bunch fermentation and stem inclusion techniques to add structure and complexity
  • Pinot Noir is an important grape for the production on Traditional Method sparkling wines
Maturation
  • Pinot Noir has an affinity for new oak but care must be taken not to overwhelm the fruit profile
  • Use of new French oak for maturation is common
  • Move towards less new oak percentages and larger format barrels

Major regional expressions

Adelaide Hills

  • Adelaide Hills is the leading region in South Australia for the production of Pinot Noir
  • It is the third most planted grape in the Adelaide Hills after Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay
  • Some of fruit from cooler sites goes into the production of Traditional Method sparkling wines
  • The typical style of Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir tends to be more medium bodied with richer, ripe cherry and berry flavours
Read more on Adelaide Hills

Mornington Peninsula

  • Pinot Noir is the Mornington Peninsula’s most planted and most important variety
  • The cooling effect of the Bass Strait is key to the success of Pinot Noir in this region
  • The wines are typically medium-bodied with vibrant varietal characters of strawberry and cherry with a juicy backbone of acidity
Read more on Mornington Peninsula

Tasmania

  • The inherent cool climate across Tasmania makes it idea for the production of high quality Pinot Noir
  • The cooling effects of the Southern Ocean influence most vineyard areas on the island
  • Some of the cooler grown fruit goes into the production of Traditional Method sparkling wines
  • The Tasmanian style is light to medium bodied with delicate red apple, cherry and strawberry flavours
Read more on Tasmania

Yarra Valley

  • Pinot Noir is the most planted and most important variety in the Yarra Valley
  • Some of the cooler grown fruit goes into the production of sparkling wine
  • A range of expressions of Pinot are produced in the Yarra Valley due to different elevations and aspects
  • Typically light to medium bodied with flavours of cherry, strawberry and plum
Read more on Yarra Valley

In the glass

Style and character

Light to medium bodied Pinot Noir wines show lively cherry and strawberry fruit flavours. The very best wines can age for 10–15 years.

Pairs with

Very versatile. Pork, chicken, pheasant, quail, beef, salmon, charcuterie, pate and terrines.

Typical flavours

Cherry
Earth
Strawberry
Plum
Roses
Violets