This is my favourite of the trio. The William Downie Yarra offers the most layers, the most complexity and the best ability to age. Red fruits, spice, earth, jubey, lavender, pepper, dense. Silky, great flesh, vibrant, spice, fine and lean with a flinty note. Very long, fine and even tannins, savoury finish. Much more dense and savoury compared with the Mornington.
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.
A region that is just too big to generalise about. The difference between Upper and Lower Yarra can be the ability to ripen some grapes or not. Great wines are made in the Yarra but it is best to know the producers.
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.