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More Sips of Pinot from Down Under

2004 Pipers Brook Vineyard Reserve Tasmania Pinot Noir

13.6% alc., $40. Made from the best parcels from the best vineyards. Macerated on the skins for up to 25 days, aged 14 months in French oak barrels. Winemaker is René Bezemer. Imported by American Estate Wines Inc., Philadelphia, PA. · This wine has a paucity of fruit in the aromas and flavors showing instead dried herbs, brown spice, coffee and toast. Flamboyant tannins and bright acidity overwhelm the demure and faded fruit. Might drink better with food.

2005 Frogmore Creek Estate Bottled Tasmania Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $25. Winemaker is Andrew Hood. Imported by Hathaway Trading Co., Inc., Ladera Ranch, CA. · Moderately light garnet color. Lovely aromas of spiced red fruits with savory herbs. Very Pinot. Lightly weighted, even a bit dilute, with notes of herbs, white pepper and grapefruit accenting the delicate red fruits. Supple tannins, easy and approachable.

2005 42º S (Forty-Two Degrees South) Tasmania Pinot Noir

12.6% alc., $16. Part of the Hood Wines portfolio. Imported by Hathaway Trading Co., Inc., Ladera Ranch, CA. · The aromas are not terribly appealing featuring pungent herbs, coffee, roasted nuts and a whiff of alcohol. Ripe fruit tending toward raisin and root beer flavors. Very smoothly textured with soft tannins and a tangy finish. The flavors trump the aromas but nothing special here.

2006 Wild Earth Central Otago Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., $24, screw cap. Labels feature original art by New Zealand artists. Vineyards are located on Felton Road overlooking Lake Dunstan. Pommard and Dijon clones. Imported by San Francisco Wine Exchange, San Francisco, CA. · Ripe fruit profile on the nose showing black cherries, raisins, forest floor and a touch of cigar box. Tasty cherry and raspberry core with a hint of orange peel and oak. Notable tannins and bright acidity. Decent.

2008 Innocent Bystander Victoria Australia Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $16. Sourced from 8 cool-climate vineyards. Imported by Old Bridge Cellars, Napa, CA. · Lightly colored with reddish highlights. The nose is dominated by herbaceous oak with little fruit. Light raspberry and cherry fruit on the palate with a riff of oak evident from entry to finish. Velvety with supple tannins in a feminine style. This wine is an easy quaff.

Penfolds, founded in 1844, and now part of the huge Foster’s Group, produces over 2 million cases of wine annually. In the mid 1990s, they quietly began developing a line of “boutique” wines crafted by winemaker Peter Gago and his team. Penfolds has made its reputation on Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, either singly or in blends, but the new Cellar Reserve label features varietals like Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Grenache, Tempranillo and Sauvignon Blanc. The first commercial release was the 1997 Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir. The Cellar Reserve wines are made in tiny quantities by hand at Penfold’s Magill Estate winery in Adelaide. Penfold’s flagship wines, Grange and Bin 707, are also made in small quantities, so Penfold’s may qualify as the world’s largest boutique winery.

2005 Penfolds Cellar Reserve Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., $35. After a cold soak, the grapes are fermented in open-top fermenters driven by natural yeast with the use of hand punch downs. Unfined and unfiltered. · This wine is quite different from what we have come to expect from Pinot Noir crafted in North America. I found it difficult to describe the components of the aromatic profile but did identify raisins and a hint of porto. Dark fruits, sassafras, root vegetables on the palate. Looks and tastes slightly brown. There is some appealing textural softness and stylistic finesse. Tastes of Pinot Noir grown in California in the early 1980s on sites that were too warm. Only for the curious.

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