2016 Freycinet Vineyards, Pinot Noir “Louis” Tasmania, Australia.
The Australian Island of Tasmania, known mostly for sparkling wines is the most southerly wine growing region on the planet and it is always interesting to taste the wines from here, with this pure and nicely matured Louis Pinot from Freycinet being a delightful effort that impresses for its quality, balance and beautiful detailing. Tasmania has a cool climate influence, making it a good spot for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, plus it has unique mineral rich red to brown, acid, strongly structured clay based soils, which is thought to bring out fruit density and an expressive personality. This smooth textured 2016 Louis Pinot Noir has an array of classic varietal flavors led by black cherry, spice red berries, cranberry and plum fruits along with orange tea, truffled earthiness, sweet herbs, forest floor, cinnamon and very restrained wood notes. There’s plenty to like here and it is a very reasonably priced wine, which allows a glimpse into this very distinct wine region. The soils of Tasmania, in a way reminds me of the Dundee Hills and the Jory, volcanic based soils, in what I’ve tasted so far. As, I learned from Andrew Pirie of Apogee wines, most of the top vineyard sites here are based on the geology of basalt or dolerite rocks with basalt-derived soil that is called a ferrosol because of its high iron content. These ferrosols have a high clay content, but unlike many clays the profile has a granular appearance, which is due to the modifying influence of iron oxide, which Pirie says, alters the clay structure and makes it more friable and porous, helping drainage, which is a great benefit.

For this Louis Pinot Noir, Freycinet Vineyards uses fully ripened fruit from their Louis vineyard site and is fermented over a 7 to 8 day period in a rotary fermenter with a selected yeast culture. After what the winery says, a gentle extracting color, flavor and soft tannins from the skins the wine is then pressed to barrel and aged in French oak barriques with just about 8 % new for close to 12 months before being bottled. Australians, with certain exceptions, tend to be all about precision and clean in style, making full flavored wines that can be enjoyed mainly in their youth, as this wine is, but it also has taken on some excellent secondary character and is more deep than expected. Tasmanian born winemaker Claudio Radenti’s interest in wine came about at an early age, helping his dad make wine when he was six, and has worked harvest in Bordeaux and traveled to various wine regions in France and Italy, before getting Aussie gigs including stints at Pipers Brook Vineyard, one of the most famous Tasmanian producers, as well as Tyrrells (NSW), and then followed by 6 years at Cassegrain Wines (NSW). He met his life partner Lindy Bull, in Western Australia while he was working as a senior winemaker, who’s family had little known Freycinet Vineyards here on Tas, and they came back to make wines of note. Lindy, no slouch herself, has a Bachelor degree of Applied Science in Oenology from Roseworthy Agricultural College and became the first Tasmanian female to graduate as a winemaker, working also in France, as well as in New Zealand and vintages in Clare Valley (SA). So it’s not luck that makes these wines what they are, I only wish they more readily available here in the States! A big thank you to Jim and Kim Brier, who shared this bottle with me they brought home from Tas and aged in their cellar.
($30 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

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