With some notable exceptions, Western Australia has not made much of a name for itself with pinot noir, but if anyone could challenge that view, it’s La Violetta’s ever-thoughtful A.J. Hoadley. Earthy and mineral, bristling with spice, dried flowers and sour cherries, this is supple and savoury in equal measure – an utterly distinctive expression.
Fermented with 100 per cent whole bunches, this has a lifted and aromatic nose firmly in the savoury spectrum, with sour and dried cherries, red berries, dried flowers, mulberry, cassia, brown cardamom, graphite and smoky, earthy accents. There’s ample fruit underpinning the spice and earth notes, though, with neither dominating. Supple but assertive tannins carry the flavours long, leaving a very distinctive signature of a wine of place.
Themes of this wine
Pinot noir is one of the wine world’s most revered grapes. Notoriously fickle to grow and make, it makes what many see as the pinnacle of red wine in France’s Burgundy, but it’s also found many happy homes around the world, and none more so than in Australia across our cooler viticultural regions.
Located in Western Australia’s south-west, north of Pemberton, Manjimup is one of the country’s youngest wine regions. The first vines were planted in 1988, and the region was officially recognised and accorded GI status in 2006. The main varieties grown are merlot, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, sauvignon blanc (the most planted grape), semillon, chardonnay and verdelho.
Before grapes are fermented, they are often de-stemmed, but they can also be left as whole bunches. Some winemakers will include a small or large portion in their ferments, with the rest destemmed, or less commonly they will leave all bunches intact. The impact of fermenting with whole bunches will create slightly different flavour profiles than if destemmed, with the grape stalks adding spice notes, and sometimes a green stemmy character, while also bringing in more tannin, and tannin with a different feel and texture to grape skin/seed or oak tannin. And while these added characters are quite savoury, the grapes in a ferment like this often remain whole for longer, meaning they start fermenting inside the berries first, which can bring a very bright fruit profile to the flavour mix. Any grape variety can be fermented with whole bunches, even white ones, but the technique is most associated with pinot noir, shiraz, gamay and grenache.