I loved the 2019 Tillie J Pinot. The only downside to the wine is that it took some time to open up. The 2020 Tillie J Pinot fixes that in spades. The first note I wrote is “Oh, that is good!” Instantly appealing, cherries, plum, sweet red berries, beetroot. The palate is silky, with a tight core—a mineral nuance with tiny tannins. With time the dark flavours show through. There is a nice acidity to the wine that is noticeably refreshing. I tried the Tillie J Pinot 2020 over five nights, and it didn’t miss a beat. I highly recommend it. Buy 12 and drink one per year until they are gone.
Praise for Tillie J
JAMES’ REVIEW thewinecompanion.com
“Mark my words. Tillie Johnston is going to become a great winemaker. She began her career in 2012, one of the vintage crew at Coldstream Hills, and says her love for pinot noir began there. She then spent four of the next eight years’ gypsying’ between the Northern and Southern hemispheres unerringly picking the eyes out of an all-star cast of wineries: Leeuwin Estate, Brokenwood, Cristom (Oregon), Keller (Rheinhessen), Framingham (Marlborough) and Yarra Yering. Since then, she’s been Assistant Winemaker at Giant Steps to Steve Flamsteed and Jess Clark. In ’19 she was offered the opportunity to buy 2t of grapes from Helen’s Hill of whatever variety she chose which was, of course, pinot noir. It came in two parcels: one Pommard and 943, hand-picked, whole bunches and destemmed; the second 777, Selectiv’ harvested, 100% whole berries. Seven barriques: one new, six used.”
Tillie J Yarra Valley Pinot Noir came about through the young winemaker program at No. 7 in Healesville. This allows a talented group of young winemakers to be mentored through the process of creating their first wine. No. 7 also buys half of their first wine to sell and promote through their venues. For the first release, 2019, Tillie sourced two tonnes of Pinot Noir from the Helen’s Hill vineyard. Subsequently, Tillie J found a new and on-going source of Pinot Noir.
A region that is just too big to generalise. The difference between Upper and Lower Yarra can be the ability to ripen some grapes or not. You’ll find many great wines in the Yarra, but it is best to know the producers.
Pinot Noir is the most elusive grape. It is relatively early ripening and extremely sensitive to terroir. Its perfect place on earth is the Cote d’Or in Burgundy. So haunting are great red Burgundy’s charms that growers everywhere try to emulate them. Pinot Noir is not just a one-trick pony. Apart from the best reds in the world, you can find world-class Pinot Noir rosé, sparkling. You can even find sweet wines, whites on occasion and I’ve tasted a decent fortified Pinot Noir too.
The invasion of “Sunshine in a bottle” put Australian wine on the map. The fruity, easy-going, somewhat samey wines were endearing for a short time. Then the next big thing knocked them off their perch.
This forced producers to increase quality and emphasise the distinctive terroirs of Australia. Of which, there are many. And many more yet to be discovered.
Wine is the result you get from fermented grape juice. There is proof of wine production dating back 8000 years ago. Fashions, innovations and many other factors have influenced the way wine has evolved over the years.
The wine grape is impressive. It contains everything you need to make grape wine except for the yeast, which lives on the outside of the skins.
Human inputs can influence the final product, including the viticulture (growing) choices. And the winemaker can shape the wine to a point too.
The best wines of the world often refer to terroir. Terroir is a French term that refers to all the climatic, geological and topographical influences on a specific piece of land. And it is true that neighbouring vineyards, grown identically, can taste noticeably different.
Fun fact; most of the colour for wines comes from the skins. There are only a handful of grapes that have red juice. Alicante is the most well known of these grapes.
By macerating the juice on the skins, the wine gains tannins, and flavours. Certain compounds change the chemistry of the wine too.
Red wines tend to have higher alcohol. More tannin and more oak flavours compared to other styles of wine. But the thousands of grapes and terroirs they grow in influence this.
The Wine Depository
I, Phil, have been running The Wine Depository since 2011. The Wine Depository exists to make sure you are drinking the good wines. You can browse and pick what is interesting to you. Or you can make contact with me. I’ll make sure you get what you want, to your palate, to your budget and to your door.