Beginners Guide to Pinot Noirs X Tyson Stelzer

A wine tasting panel can be daunting for beginners. Sitting at a table hearing people comment on the aromatics and acidity of wines, it is quite easy to get lost with all the options in front of you. However, the Sense of Taste wine tasing experience made this selection process easy and understandable.


It was a welcomed experience for many individuals at the Sense of Taste tasing panel. The panel was directed by critically acclaimed wine critic, judge and writer Tyson Stelzer, who’s knowledge and depth of taste is incredible.


The panel focused on a wide range of Pinot Noir’s (PN) from various price points and regions. It was interesting to taste and experience the significant differences between $14 and $126 bottles of Pinot Noir.


Tyson’s knowledge aided everyone and guided us in understanding the concept and delicate conditions required to produce an amazing bottle of Pinot.


Tyson began the panel by stating how difficult it is to make a good Pinot in Australia, due to warm weather conditions. The fermentation process of Pinot is highly susceptible to weather conditions, with the ideal conditions being cooler climates. This is due to the delicate nature of the grapes and their skins being very thin. Therefore, requiring cooler climates to maintain their texture and balance.


The biggest take away from the tasting panel would be the wide variety of Pinot’s available in Australia despite our warmer conditions. Although, multiple bottles are produced yearly from various regions, each bottle of Pinot will please someones palate despite its low price point.


The first flight consisted of bottles that were $20, and under which included T’Gallant Juliet PN ($14) , Elephant in the Room PN ($18) , Zilzie PN ($19) , Take it to the Grave PN ($19) and Peninsula Panorama PN ($20).


This flight was a great introduction for beginners into the world of Pinot Noir. It allows the pallet to adjust to fruity and acidic taste that is commonly found in red wines. Tyson utilised this flight to provide significant information regarding the production and nature of Pinot Noir.


It became evident that the colour of the wine did not always correlate with the overall tasting experience. It was difficult for the panel to identify a standout candidate within this flight, but for some beginners it was a welcomed experience.


Moving on to flight two, which consisted of Pinots from Sundry SA, VIC & NSW. This flight included Port Phillip Estate Quartier PN ($29) Brokenwood PN ($39), St Huberts the Stag PN ($21) , Maressa PN ($25) , Cowpunk Natural PN ($28) and Penfolds Mx’s PN ($35).


The second flight provided an introduction into the effects that different regions can have upon the production of pinot noirs. Tyson explained that different regions and their climates can damage or protect the skins of the grapes leading to better quality bottles.


A clear stand out from this flight was the Cowpunk Natural PN which was voted by majority of the panel. The Penfolds Max’s PN was also a close second due to it having a balanced taste.


Following the second flight, the third flight provided more detail into specific regions such as the Yarra Valley and the quality of wine that is produced there.


The flight consisted of T’Gallant Cape Schnack PN ($21), Tread Softly Premium Yarra Valley PN ($22), Wild Folk PN ($28), Coldstream Hills PN ($35), Hardys HRB PN ($37) and Innocent Bystander Mea Culpa PN ($40).  Tyson highlighted the importance of the upper and lower regions of the Yarra Valley and its effects upon the fermentation process.


The temperature differences between both the higher and lower regions of the Yarra Valley resulted in some wines tasting vastly different form others, despite coming from the same region. Therefore, bottles from the lower region had a more rounded taste which was evident in the standout candidate which was the Coldstream Hills PN.


The next flight turns to Tasmania and focuses on a particular range which had price points under $40. This flight included the cork cutter PN ($25), Devil’s Corner PN ($27), Moorilla Praxis PN ($30), Lost farm PN ($34), Ta,ar Ridge PN ($36) and Barringwood Estate PN ($39).


The quality of grapes produced in Tasmania was really highlighted in this flight. Tyson provided the panel with some interesting information pertaining to the prices of producing grapes in Tasmania in comparison to Australia.


A tonne of Tasmania grapes is nearly four times as expensive as Australian mainland grapes. The significant difference in prices can be experiences to the aromatic and balanced nature of these wines.


The standout winner in this flight was the Tamar Ridge PN, which delivered a strong fragrance and is cold soaked for five days leading to increased fermentation and having 11 months of maturation in French oak.


The following flight still focused on the Tasmania region but included higher price points of over $40 and some selections from Adelaide Hills. This flight included Tasmania selections like the Eddystone Point PN ($40), Devil’s Corner Resolution PN ($40) and Bream Creek PN ($42). Furthermore, pinots ranging from Adelaide Hills such as Simon Tolley PN ($23), Turon PN ($31) and Heirloom PN ($35).


This flight was quite interesting due to having wines from two different regions. However, the panel could easily taste the differences between both regions resulting in a divided opinion regarding the best choice. It eventually came down to individual preferences and what their pallet craved at the time. Therefore, the winner for the Tasmanian region was the bream Creek PN, followed by the Heirloom PN for the Adelaide hills.


The second last flight consisted of international pinots ranging from New Zealand and France. This flight had a total of 5 selections with price points ranging between $20-50. The flight included selections such as Les Peyrautins PN ($21), Momo PN ($30), Squealing Pig PN ($27), Mud House Core PN ($28) and Grasshopper Rock PN ($47). The panel absolutely loved this flight with its balance of fruit flavours, tannins and acidity. A standout of this flight was the Grasshopper Rock PN, due to its rounded and balanced flavours. However, a close second was the Les Peyrautins PN which many said was a steal due to its low price point and amazing taste.


The final flight focused on pinots over $50, with the most expensive being $126. This flight consisted of the Penfolds Bin 23 ($52), Kooyong Estate PN ($54), Bay of Fires PN ($60), Cloud Bay PN ($64), Eileen Hardy PN ($120) and Cloudy Bay Te Wahi PN ($126). This flight consisted high valued premium pinots that made the tasting experience incredibly unique for the panel. It consisted of a wide variety of tastes which resulted in many split decisions. However, majority of the panel preferred the Cloudy Bay PN, which is the most premium pinot that is coming out of Marlborough.


This wine tasting experience was one to remember for all attendants. It provided the perfect balance of selections coincided with a plethora of knowledge delivered by Tyson. This event allowed attendants to experience Pinots from both ends of the pricing spectrum. A cheap wine can still have some good flavour, while an expensive Pinot is something unique to experience.