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Where should you spend more money on wine?

Not all wines are created equal.  Big call but something you need to keep in mind when you are buying wine.  Some varieties, such as Chardonnay and Shiraz, can be grown across a range of environments and climates producing different styles but wines that are specifically varietal.  The ability to grow certain varieties in a range of areas means there is more availability of those varieties.  This plays into classic supply and demand economics in keeping prices for these varieties at a lower price.  Warmer climates also mean you can crop at higher yields without having too much of an impact on quality.  Higher yields equate to lower wine prices but also result in less concentrated, varietally expressive wines. 

Pinot Noir is not a grape variety that can be grown anywhere.  Pinot Noir needs a cool to moderate climate to grow and, in Australia, we don’t have many of those!  When grown in warm climates the Pinot Noir wines tend to have a jammy or cooked fruit profile and, for me, lose their Pinot-ness.  One of the reasons why Pinot Noir is so prized is because it is difficult to grow and get right in the winery.  Yields must be kept low on Pinot Noir if you want to produce balanced, fine lined wines and these lower yields is one of the reasons why you need to spend a little more on Pinot Noir.  When shopping for Pinot Noir, look for a wine from a given region (preferably the Yarra Valley!) rather than a large area such as Victoria or South Eastern Australia because you will have a better understanding of whether the grapes have been grown in the right climate.  The careful handling in the winery that Pinot Noir demands also adds to its cost of production – punch downs are more labour intensive than pumpovers. 

If you want to spend $15 on a wine, look for Shiraz, Riesling or Chardonnay – something that is more universally planted across Australia and can handle bigger crop levels.  If you want to drink Pinot Noir, spend a little more – at least $25 and buy from a recognised, named area such as the Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula, or Gippsland. 

To see how Pinot Noir responds to different microclimates, do a comparison of our 2021 True Colours Pinot Noir and our 2020 White Label Pinot Noir.  The White Label is from the cooler upper Yarra Valley from very low yielding vines.  The True Colours is from the warmer Valley floor.  You will see a greater level of concentration and perfume in the White Label.   

– Meg Brodtmann MW

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