Bill Downie has been on a wine making odyssey that has seen him work at tiny producers and large wine factories most notably in Australia and Burgundy. Since 2003 Bill and partner Rachel Needoba (a formidable cheese maker!) have also been making Pinot Noir under his own name from the Yarra Valley and subsequently added Mornington Peninsula and Gippsland to the range complemented by a one off wine (or two). The first under the William Downie label was a Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2003. A wine I had the privilege of tasting on release and I still have a bottle in my cellar. A tasting earlier this year (2013) with industry friends had it more impressive and interesting then some quality Burgundies drunk at the same dinner. Bill and Rachel are based at their farm in West Gippsland.
Typical of the Peninsula this is the more floral, red berry and vibrant style. It shows really well upfront with beautiful balance and is lovely to drink from release. It certainly improves with age but it doesn’t often get the chance. There is a great depth to this wine and the supporting crunchy acid and fine tannins really set this apart from a lot of Pinot.
One of many stars in Melbourne’s dress circle of vineyards. Varied success depending on terroir and wine maker but the best are outstanding. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay can excel with Riesling, Pinot Gris and Sparkling all capable of impressive wines too.
This 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, it can make great reds, rosé, sparkling and even sweet wines, whites on occasion and I’ve tasted a decent fortified Pinot Noir too.