Pinot Noir is an elegant and complex grape variety, and Yarra Valley is home to many top producers. With a cool climate and terroir diversity, these wines are full of complexity.
A quality Pinot Noir can be spicy, aromatic, savoury or even minty, and will complement a range of foods. It also works well with a light chill and is delicious paired with duck, game meats, mushrooms and lighter red-meat dishes.
1. Yarra Yering 2021
The Yarra Valley is a cool climate region that produces classic wines from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as well as quality sparkling wines. It is also home to many bold new winemakers who are experimenting with new varieties, such as Nebbiolo and Arneis.
It is the oldest wine region in Victoria, dating back to 1838 when the Ryrie Brothers started growing grapes at their property. Swiss emigrant Paul de Castella bought the property in 1850 and discovered that the grapes he planted could produce some exceptional wine. He imported advanced winemaking equipment from Bordeaux, and went on to win the Grand Prix at the Paris Exhibition in 1889 – the world’s most prestigious wine competition.
Today, Yarra Yering is one of the Yarra Valley’s most popular vineyards. Dr Bailey Carrodus established Yarra Yering in 1969 and the cellar door is open seven days a week. The wines produced from the Yarra Yering vineyards are some of the most renowned in Australia.
A key characteristic of Yarra Valley pinots is their smoky and complex flavour profile, often compared to those of New Zealand. The Yarra Valley is a cool-climate region, so the fruit that is grown in this area has high levels of tannins that give these wines a good structure and mouth-feel.
In addition to the grapes, the terroir that the wine is made from also plays an important role in its character. The Yarra Valley has unique soil and temperature conditions that make it an ideal place to grow a range of different varieties, including Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
There are several factors that influence the flavour and texture of a wine, but it’s generally agreed that the terroir is one of the most important. A terroir is an area in which a wine is grown, and can be defined by its slope, elevation, aspect and the local climatic conditions.
Yarra Yering’s vineyards sit in the foothills of Warramate Hills in the Yarra Valley and the wines produced from these vines are some of the best in the region. The vineyard is managed sustainably and the winery focuses on producing fruit with good colour, great flavour and high levels of natural acidity.
2. Airlie Bank Pinot Noir
The Yarra Valley is home to some of Australia’s best Pinot Noir and it’s well worth a visit if you have the time. It’s a region that is famous for its incredibly delicate grapes and wines made from it are usually quite complex and well balanced, displaying elements of red fruit and subtle savoury tannins.
One of the most consistently rated wines from the Yarra Valley is Airlie Bank Pinot Noir, which comes from Punt Road. This James Halliday five star rated winery is known for producing wines of character and drinkability with the proud Yarra Valley stamp.
Tim Shand heads up a dynamic, progressive young winemaking team at Punt Road and has been responsible for the high quality of this range since they launched it in 2014. They are passionate about experimenting with their style of winemaking, and this means that they regularly deliver extraordinary value Pinots.
This 2022 Airlie Bank Pinot is another elegant, beautifully structured Yarra Valley pinot noir with loads of varietal cherry, strawberry and raspberry fruit notes. It’s also one of the most affordable yarra valley pinot noirs on the market and it’s a great value wine to have in your cellar.
It’s a light to medium bodied red wine, with silky tannins and pleasingly complex flavours. It’s a good wine to enjoy with food.
As with most Pinot Noirs, the palate is fresh and vibrant with a focused palate structure of apple blossom and citrus characters with complex brioche notes. It’s a very enjoyable drink and it pairs well with oysters or as an aperitif.
Pinot Noir is one of the world’s most renowned grapes, but it has many different styles from region to region and even within a single country. For example, Pinot Noir from Burgundy is more savoury in style with less hints of red fruit and more oak influence than other types of Pinot.
Tasmanian and Victorian Pinots are typically more savoury and earthy in style, while New Zealand Pinots tend to be more fruity in nature with more hints of cherry and plum. However, Victoria Pinot is arguably the best in Australia and its Yarra Valley and Geelong regions produce some of the finest Pinot Noirs in the country.
3. Stefani Estate – The View
Stefani Estate – The View is an elegant and classic style of Chardonnay that shows off the best of the cool Yarra Valley. It features a mix of terroir and winemaking techniques that show off the true character of this varietal in all its glory.
The wine is sourced from the family’s Belaradah site, which has been producing wine since 1985 and has been awarded a Halliday 5 star. The vineyard is located in a unique terroir where the soils are comprised of sand, limestone and clay, with an elevation of up to 350 metres.
It’s an aromatic white with fresh and bright fruit aromas that are enticing on the nose. The palate is soft and smooth with crisp acidity and a good level of oak flavour. The wine is ready to drink now, but will also benefit from some bottle age to reveal additional complexity and depth.
Adrian Santolin has been making wine for a long time, and he really understands Pinot Noir. He uses a low-intervention approach, and he focuses on making small quantities from distinct sites in the cool upper Yarra.
He believes that the best wines are a reflection of the terroir and the grapes in it. This is evident in his Gladysdale single vineyard Pinot Noir. It has a good level of alcohol but it is not overpowering, and the flavours are soft, juicy and complex.
The wine has a great color and aromas of plum, raspberry, blackberry, and blueberry complemented by a hint of smoke. The wine is well made and displays a good level of complexity with a long, savoury finish. It’s a very good value Yarra Valley Pinot.
4. Payton and Jones Pinot Noir
The Yarra Valley is one of the country’s premier cool climate wine regions, with a diverse range of grape varieties that are capable of producing elegant wines with a depth and complexity that rivals those from the more established regions of Australia. Chardonnay and Pinot noir account for a large proportion of the region’s production, but Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz provide excellent support as well.
Pinot Noir is a noble red grape that’s grown worldwide for its ability to produce world-class wines. Its spiritual home is France, where it is the sole variety used to craft cellar-worthy red Burgundy, but it’s also grown in California and Oregon, as well as a growing number of countries around the world.
Yarra Valley wine is produced on soils that vary greatly, with the northern section of the Yarra Valley (the Lower Yarra) typified by duplex soils that tangle and hold onto water, while the more southern part of the Yarra Valley (the Upper Yarra) is characterised by deep-red volcanic soils that are more fertile. These broad types are complemented by a few notable sites that deviate from this pattern, mainly influenced by granite rather than volcanic sand.
Payten and Jones is a relatively new addition to the Yarra Valley, making its first vintage in 2011. They’re at the forefront of Australia’s natural wine movement, using minimal intervention vinification methods and making wines ‘as nature intended’.
They make two styles of Pinot Noir – bright and light, and savoury – both of which are beautifully made. They use natural acid levels, indigenous ‘wild’ yeasts, whole bunch fermentation and shunning the use of SO2 throughout the winemaking process.
The result is a bright and delicate style of pinot noir with a gorgeously complex nose and flavour. On the palate, the wine is a delicious blend of berry fruit with savoury spice and an abundance of oak.
The Yarra Valley is one of the best wine regions in Australia, and with a large number of wineries and a strong reputation, it’s no surprise that it attracts visitors from around the world. There are many Yarra Valley wine tours available, allowing visitors to try different wines and learn more about the wine industry in this unique area.