When discussing the rich tapestry of Australian wine, Pinot Noir may not be the first varietal that comes to mind. However, its origins in the country date back several decades and have steadily gained recognition for their unique characteristics. In this article, we will delve into the captivating story of Pinot Noir's arrival in Australia, exploring its humble beginnings, challenges faced, and its remarkable rise to prominence in the world of wine.
The Early Years:
The story of Pinot Noir in Australia can be traced back to the early 19th century. The first documented vineyard to cultivate Pinot Noir was established by the Swiss settler, Dr. Christopher Rawson Penfold, in South Australia's Magill Estate in 1844. However, it wasn't until the late 1960s and early 1970s that Pinot Noir gained notable attention.
The Cool Climate Revolution:
Australia's wine industry experienced a significant shift during the 1960s and 1970s, as winemakers began exploring cooler climate regions, which were deemed more suitable for cultivating delicate varietals like Pinot Noir. These regions included the Macedon Ranges in Victoria, Adelaide Hills in South Australia, and the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, among others.
The Macedon Ranges:
Nestled in the state of Victoria, the Macedon Ranges region has emerged as a captivating destination for Pinot Noir production in Australia. Situated just an hour's drive from Melbourne, this cool-climate region boasts an elevation of 500 to 700 meters (1,640 to 2,300 feet) above sea level, making it one of the highest wine regions in the country. The combination of altitude, cool temperatures, and ancient volcanic soils contributes to the unique expression of Pinot Noir found in this area.
The region's wine history dates back to the 1860s, but it wasn't until the 1970s that serious viticultural endeavors began to take shape. Pioneering wineries such as Hanging Rock Winery and Curly Flat Vineyard recognized the potential of the Macedon Ranges for producing exceptional Pinot Noir and other cool-climate varietals.
The Macedon Ranges' cool climate is influenced by its proximity to the Great Dividing Range and the prevailing winds that sweep across the region. These factors create a long and slow ripening period, allowing the grapes to develop complexity and retain vibrant acidity. The diurnal temperature variation, with warm days and cool nights, also contributes to the preservation of natural acidity and the development of delicate flavors.
The ancient volcanic soils of the Macedon Ranges add another layer of distinction to the region's Pinot Noir. Rich in minerals and well-drained, these soils impart unique characteristics to the grapes, resulting in wines that exhibit both elegance and intensity. The combination of cool climate, volcanic soils, and meticulous vineyard management has led to the production of outstanding, cool-climate Pinot Noir with a distinct sense of place.
Winemakers in the Macedon Ranges employ various winemaking techniques to showcase the region's unique terroir. From whole bunch fermentation to extended maceration and the use of French oak, these techniques contribute to the development of wines that exhibit finesse, complexity, and exceptional aging potential.
Today, the Macedon Ranges has firmly established itself as a premium cool-climate wine region in Australia, and Pinot Noir remains one of its shining stars. Wineries such as Bindi, Passing Clouds, Lyons Will, Wilimee, Lanes End and Cobaw Ridge to name a few continue to produce acclaimed examples of Macedon Ranges Pinot Noir, captivating wine enthusiasts with their elegance, structure, and distinctive regional character.
The story of Pinot Noir in the Macedon Ranges is a testament to the region's dedication to producing exceptional cool-climate wines. With its unique combination of elevation, cool temperatures, volcanic soils, and passionate winemakers, the Macedon Ranges has carved its place among Australia's finest Pinot Noir regions, contributing to the diverse and dynamic Australian wine landscape.
The Yarra Valley:
The Yarra Valley, located just outside of Melbourne, emerged as one of the pioneers of Pinot Noir production in Australia. Wineries such as Yering Station and Mount Mary Vineyard planted Pinot Noir vines, and their efforts paved the way for the region's recognition as a premier Pinot Noir producer. The cool climate, with its moderate rainfall, coupled with the valley's rich, fertile soil, proved to be an ideal combination for growing this finicky grape.
The Adelaide Hills:
In South Australia, the Adelaide Hills region showcased its potential for Pinot Noir production. With its higher altitude and cooler temperatures, the Adelaide Hills became an attractive destination for winemakers seeking to produce elegant and refined expressions of this grape. Pioneering wineries like Ashton Hills and Petaluma spearheaded the cultivation of Pinot Noir, setting a benchmark for quality and inspiring other regions to follow suit.
The Mornington Peninsula:
Situated on the southern coast of Victoria, the Mornington Peninsula emerged as another prominent Pinot Noir region in Australia. The maritime influence from the surrounding ocean, coupled with a cool climate and varied soil types, resulted in wines that possessed vibrant acidity, fine tannins, and complex flavors. Wineries such as Stonier, Paringa Estate, and Ten Minutes by Tractor played a pivotal role in establishing the region's reputation for exceptional Pinot Noir.
Challenges and Triumphs:
Cultivating Pinot Noir is not without its challenges. Its thin skin makes it susceptible to disease, and it requires precise vineyard management to achieve optimal ripeness and balance. Additionally, the style of Australian Pinot Noir has evolved over the years. Initially, attempts were made to mimic the bolder, fruit-forward styles of other New World producers. However, winemakers eventually recognized the importance of expressing the unique characteristics of each region and shifted towards more elegant, nuanced styles.
Recognition and Global Success:
Over the years, Australian Pinot Noir has gained international recognition and acclaim. Winemakers' unwavering dedication, combined with a better understanding of site selection and vineyard management, has resulted in wines of exceptional quality. Today, Australian Pinot Noir is celebrated for its finesse, complexity, and ability to reflect its terroir.
The journey of Pinot Noir in Australia is a testament to the country's winemaking evolution. From humble beginnings to achieving worldwide recognition, Australian winemakers have successfully harnessed the potential of this temperamental grape. With each passing vintage, Pinot Noir continues to captivate wine enthusiasts, highlighting Australia as a noteworthy player in the world of elegant and refined cool-climate wines.
Pinot Noir is a grape varietal that has been grown for centuries and is responsible for some of the most exquisite wines in the world. It is a delicate and nuanced wine that requires just the right food pairing to bring out its flavours. In this article, we will explore the perfect food pairing for Pinot Noir, with a particular focus on Macedon Ranges Pinot Noir.
Pinot Noir is a light-bodied red wine that is characterised by its fruity and earthy flavours. It has a light tannin structure, which means that it pairs well with a range of foods, including poultry, game, and fish. Pinot Noir also has a unique acidity that cuts through rich and fatty foods, making it an ideal accompaniment to creamy cheeses and hearty stews.
One of the best food pairings for Pinot Noir is roasted or grilled chicken. The light tannins in the wine complement the mild flavour of the chicken, while the acidity helps to cut through the richness of the dish. Pinot Noir is also a great choice for Christmas dinner, where it can stand up to the complex flavours of turkey and cranberry sauce.
Another great food pairing for Pinot Noir is salmon. The light and fruity flavour of the wine goes perfectly with the delicate flavour of the fish. Pinot Noir is also an excellent pairing for tuna and other meaty fish, which can stand up to the acidity of the wine.
For those looking for a vegetarian option, Pinot Noir pairs well with earthy vegetables like mushrooms, truffles, and beets. The wine's earthy and fruity flavours complement the rich and earthy flavours of the vegetables, making for a delicious and satisfying meal.
Now let's talk about Macedon Ranges Pinot Noir. This wine is made from grapes grown in the Macedon Ranges region of Victoria, Australia. The cool climate and unique soil of this region produce wines with a distinct flavour profile that is different from other Pinot Noirs.
Northern Hope Macedon Ranges Pinot Noir is a standout example of the unique flavour of this region. It has a vibrant ruby colour and a complex flavour profile that includes notes of cherry, raspberry, and spice. This wine pairs well with a range of foods, including roasted meats, game, and hearty stews.
Macedon Ranges Pinot Noir is also an excellent pairing for local Australian cuisine. The wine's acidity and earthy flavours go well with traditional Australian dishes like kangaroo, lamb, and emu. It is also a great choice for pairing with locally produced cheeses and charcuterie.
In conclusion, Pinot Noir is a versatile wine that pairs well with a range of foods, including roasted chicken, salmon, and earthy vegetables. Macedon Ranges Pinot Noir, in particular, is a unique and delicious example of this varietal. If you're looking for a wine that will pair well with a range of foods, be sure to check out Northern Hope Macedon Ranges Pinot Noir today.
Pinot noir is a delicate grape variety that is known for its complexity and nuance in flavour. While it is grown in many regions around the world, we believe the Macedon Ranges in Victoria, Australia is considered to be one of the best places to produce pinot noir wine due to its cool climate and terroir.
The Macedon Ranges is located in the southern part of Australia, and its vineyards are situated at elevations between 450 and 800 meters above sea level. This high altitude results in cooler temperatures, which are ideal for growing pinot noir grapes. The cool climate slows down the ripening process, allowing the grapes to develop complex and nuanced flavours, while still maintaining their acidity and freshness.
Pinot noir wines produced in the Macedon Ranges are characterised by their elegant and subtle flavours, which are often described as earthy, floral, and spicy. These wines also have a distinct acidity, which gives them a refreshing and crisp finish. The cool climate allows the grapes to develop more slowly, resulting in smaller berries with thicker skins, which contribute to the wine's intense colour and flavour.
In contrast, pinot noir wines produced in warmer climates tend to have a more fruit-forward flavour profile, with less acidity and tannin. The warmer temperatures cause the grapes to ripen faster, resulting in larger berries with thinner skins, which produce wines that are less complex and nuanced.
Overall, the cool climate of the Macedon Ranges is ideal for producing high-quality pinot noir wines with complex flavours and subtle nuances. These wines are a testament to the unique terroir of the region and are a must-try for any wine lover looking to experience the best that Australian Pinot noir has to offer.
You can purchase our Macedon Ranges pinot noir here
Syrah and Shiraz are two popular red grape varieties that are used to produce wines with distinct flavor profiles. Despite being genetically identical, the two varieties are known to produce wines that differ significantly in style and character.
Syrah is believed to have originated in the Rhône region of France and is widely planted in regions such as the Northern and Southern Rhône, Australia, and the United States.
The grape produces wines that are known for their full-bodied and complex flavour profile, with notes of dark fruit, pepper, and spice. Syrah wines typically have high tannins and acidity, making them a good match for rich and meaty dishes. They are also known for their aging potential, with some of the best Syrah wines being able to age for several decades.
On the other hand, Shiraz is the name used for the same grape variety in Australia and some other New World wine regions. The grape was first introduced to Australia in the 19th century and has since become the country's most widely planted grape variety. Shiraz wines are known for their bold and ripe fruit flavours, with notes of blackberry, plum, and chocolate. They tend to be full-bodied with soft tannins and a lower acidity, which makes them a good match for spicy and flavorful dishes.
There are several factors that contribute to the differences in style between Syrah and Shiraz wines. One of the most significant factors is the climate and growing conditions of the grapes. Syrah grapes grown in cooler climates tend to produce wines with higher acidity and more savoury flavors, while those grown in warmer climates produce wines that are riper and fruitier in style. Shiraz, on the other hand, is often grown in warmer regions and tends to produce wines that are more fruit-forward and approachable at a younger age.
Another factor that contributes to the differences between Syrah and Shiraz wines is winemaking techniques. For example, some winemakers may use different oak aging methods or blending techniques to create a specific style or flavour profile in their wines.
In conclusion, while Syrah and Shiraz are genetically identical grape varieties, they produce wines that differ significantly in style and character. Syrah wines tend to be full-bodied with high tannins and acidity, while Shiraz wines are typically fruitier and softer in style.
The differences in climate and winemaking techniques contribute to the distinct flavor profiles of each variety, making them both popular choices among wine enthusiasts.
Interested in finding out more, check out our Syrah from the Pyrenees. Grapes sourced from a cool climate region with beautiful notes of dark fruit, dark chocolate and spice.
We've finally got our mini winery up and running (ok it's a posh shed) and just in time for us to make our 2021 Syrah on-site. The grapes were sourced from Michel Chapoutier in the cool climate region of the Pyrenees. This biodynamic and organic site showcases some incredible fruit from the foothills of Australia's Great Dividing range.
Due to the cool temperatures in the months of April and May, we experienced a prolonged fermentation period. The temperature of the vats slowly rising with the aid of indoor heaters over a 6 week period, this slow rise will really help capture all the beautiful nuances and complexity in the final wine.
Unlike some of the more modern and fancy pants machinery out there, we use a basket press and old school muscle to press the grapes. Leaving behind the pomace or what we call the cake. After doing this several times and being careful not to over extract the skins, (over extraction can lead to bitterness) we pump the remaining juice straight into barrel. Now locked away in French oak barrels (50% new) this cool climate syrah has found it's home for the next 12 - 18 months. We'll update you soon on our next steps but for now we're looking forward to seeing our syrah develop in barrel.
If you don't want to wait 18 months for a drink (totally understandable) try our Macedon Ranges Pinot Noir 2019
Along with our Northern Hope Pinot Noir, this year we're pretty pumped to be making a cool climate syrah thanks to our friends at Michel Chapoutier in the Pyrenees. Our site in the Macedon Ranges is a little too cold to ripen this variety so we've looked further a field to find this magical cool climate site.
The Pyrenees foothills and ranges create a remarkable diversity of microclimates and soils providing a wealth of options for winemakers like ourselves. The cool weather patterns and unique soil in this region are an ideal place for Chapoutier’s biodynamic winegrowing philosophy, and something we're very excited to experiment.
We decided to pick the fruit around the 12.5% Baume mark as we want to achieve a style of syrah that's a little lighter and racier than most. Avoiding some of the more jammy and higher alcohol characteristics that Shiraz can be known for.
Selecting parcels from the coolest part of the Chapoutier site, we set about loading up our vats on a day which turned out to be stinking hot. Thankfully the picking crew were on hand to help us pick our 2 tonnes of grapes - they were incredible!
It's going to take some time before we get to release this little bad boy but we look forward to sharing our progress and the the forthcoming wine making stages. Previously all our wines have been made with the help of our friends at the Lyons Will Estate.... this time we're on our own making it at our very teeny tiny winery / shed @Northern Hope..... (add dramatic music here haha). This is going to be epic!!!
Oh and speaking of epic.... our Macedon Ranges Pinot Noir 2019 is now available, check it out here>
We're proud to say that we've just bottled our first ever wine!!! (Crowd goes wild)
Our Pinot Noir is in bottle, it's resting, ready for our big release and we couldn't be more excited about sharing it with you.
Sourcing pinot noir grapes from the Macedon Ranges is difficult due to the high demand for fruit but we were fortunate enough to come across two growers that were happy to work with us in bringing this dream to life. The grapes are from a well established, award winning vineyard in Woodend, Macedon Ranges. Grown on rich red volcanic soil and geologically classified as a tertiary volcanic vent site associated with the Hanging Rock volcanic core.
So what did we do?
These wonderful grapes were hand picked from the site, collecting just short of 2 and half tonnes. We specifically chose to work with MV6 clones due to it's robust flavours and tannins that can be extracted. We then destemmed them and left 8% whole-bunch to bring that additional layer of structure to the wine. It didn't take long for the fermentation to kick off, using only the natural wild yeast, it was later transferred to French Oak barrels for 12 months, 25% of which was new oak.
Bottling day arrives and we finally see all our hard work come to fruition as we see our first bottles come off the production line.
We're hoping to share this limited number of first release pinot noir in Dec 2020... just in time for Christmas. So come back soon to secure this special opportunity, you won't want to miss this!
Our Macedon Ranges Pinot Noir 2019 has now been released and can be purchased here >
Winter's here and one of our biggest jobs in the vineyard is pruning. Our Pinot Noir vines are only 2 years old but they've taken well to the Macedon Ranges cool climate with real vigor. Pruning is not one of the most exciting jobs to work on in the vineyard but it is one of the most important. Get it right and you set yourself up for success for the upcoming year... get it wrong and you can have a real disaster on your hands.
So what is pruning? One of the main jobs of pruning is to tell the vine how many bunches of grapes you want it to produce and to ripen in the year, it also determines the crop for the next year. Cutting back last years canes help the vine grow healthier and more rigorously in the spring.
Pictured above: Samantha has opened one of the plastic grow guards to reveal the vine and the 2 main canes. The weakest of the two canes will be snipped off near the base and the remaining cane will be snipped higher up, 1 inch under the cordon wire.
It's then important to remove all the other buds on the cane leaving just two at the top. These buds will create the two new canes for this year's growth. After that's all done, zip up the grow guard and start the next vine, repeat this 1000's of times until you've done so many squats you've got buns of steel.
Exciting times as we get ready to release our first ever wine... The Northern Hope 2019 Pinot Noir is finally ready to be bottled.
As our vineyard is not producing grapes yet, we purchased grapes from an award winning vineyard in Woodend, Macedon Ranges. This small batch, single vineyard of Pinot Noir (2 1/2 tonnes total) was hand picked and basket pressed. Comprising of a single clone (MV6) and a wild yeast ferment it was matured in a combination of new and old French oak barrels.
Bottling will take place on the 22nd August 2020 and will be ready to be purchased from this November. Only a total of 1450 bottles will be produced so please make sure you sign up to our email newsletters to stay in the know and more importantly come back soon so you can get your hands on this very limited edition release.
Planting day: 5th December 2018
We planted our very first block of vines at Northern Hope. We ordered over 1500 pinot noir vines from Yalumba Nursery in Tasmania, purchasing a mixture of 115 and MV6 clones to provide a layered and more complex tasting pinot. It wasn't a difficult decision to plant pinot noir given it's our favourite go to wine and it's something which we believe is suited to the cool climate of the Macedon Ranges.
Like most great ideas it seemed simple but when given more thought on how'd we plant 1500+ vines in one day and on our own, we knew we'd need some help. So quickly selling the dream to our friends... 'Hey why don't you come and help us plant vines it will be fun...' (sweetened with the promise of free booze and a BBQ) we were able to enlist a wonderful crack team of helpers.
So Saturday rolled around and it was a scorching 30 degrees, the planting crew (consisting 90% English) endured the elements with an unwavering sense of determination (for a free beer).
The crew was split into diggers and planters, the diggers making holes every 1 metre along the row directly under the dripping irrigation pipe. The planters working along the row and carefully handling each 1 year old old vine and burying it in the dirt and compacting the soil, it was a beautiful system. Dig, plant, repeat .... A LOT!
We had chosen to buy 1 year old vines which were already grafted onto American rootstock to safeguard ourselves from diseases such as phylloxera. Although it's not common in the Macedon Ranges this little insect can be carried from vineyard to vineyard and will ultimately kill all your plants. Having our vines grafted onto American rootstock protects them from these nasty little critters.
The vineyard was purposefully designed to be close planting, by having our vines one metre apart meant that the vines have to compete with each other for water and nutrients. This will help push the roots further into the soil and help us to really express our terroir.
Nearing to the end of an exhausting day, we finished our very first block of vines. None of which would have been possible without the help of all our incredible friends and family to get us across the line. Who wants to help with the second block? Any takers?