Lithostylis 2010 Ironstone Pinot Noir, South Gippsland
“A sweet-fruited nose of strawberries, violets and dried herbs gives way to a spicey palate, with background notes of raspberry, mandarin and coffee. The palate shows mouth-watering acidity and a lingering savoury finish. A light and balanced Pinot Noir, with fine supporting tannins and a generous texture.”
The Ironstone Soil (aka Ferrosol, aka Krasnozem, aka The Red Dirt, aka Spud Mud)
This is the first of our Pinot Noir’s to be labelled by it’s soil type, in an effort to draw attention to the causal link between soil-type and wine style/structure. The Pinot Noir + Ironstone interaction is a proven combination, finding favour not just in South Gippsland, but in West Gippsland, Northern Tasmania, parts of the Yarra Valley and Oregon (Jory Loams). So what’s so special about Ironstone soils? Put simply, they are: Friable, Free-Draining, Warm, Hold Water Tightly and are inherently Fertile. The fertility of the soil being the only quality which might be considered negative. We make up for this with sore knees (from de-suckering), sore backs (from shoot-thinning, leaf-plucking and fruit-thinning) and sore arms (from hedging)! These soils offer a buffer against extremes of dryness and wetness and are generally beautiful to behold! Pinot Noir wines grown on the Ironstone soils of South Gippsland tend to display high natural acidity, fine tannins with floral and red-berry dominant aromas. The Ironstone soil offers a certain level of consistency in the face of varying seasonal conditions…..provided the vigneron isn’t lazy!
The 2009-2010 Growing Season
Whilst the 2010 growing season could be described as climatically ‘average’, we feel that this Pinot Noir is anything but! In a climatic sense, an average season in South Gippsland is a potentially excellent one – a wet and cool-warm spring, followed by a warm and moist summer with no extremes of heat and topped off with a cool autumn start for the final stages of ripening. The only confounding factor is the potentially ill-timed rain events towards the end of harvest. In 2010, we ran the gauntlet of harvesting before and then between rain events to preserve the fine tannins, high natural acidity and delicate fragrance of the season. Both our initial edginess (to get fruit off before the rain) and our later enforced patience (to let the remaining fruit recover after the rain) were equally important. The result is a fine and lighter-bodied style of Pinot Noir with red-berry dominant fruit characters (strawberry, raspberry, red currant) and a generous yet finely structured palate.
The Winemakers Influence
Harvest began on the 3rd of March, with G-clone fruit harvested at 12.5°Bé. The final parcel of D-clone fruit was harvested one month later at 13.5°Bé. Fruit was 100% destemmed except for one small parcel of MV6, selected for its riper stems to be used in a partial whole-bunch ferment. This equates to a 5% whole-bunch addition overall. Ferments were initially chilled and then left to reach an ambient peak of around 32°C, fermented by ambient yeasts. Pigeage by hand 2 times per day. Pressing occurred on average 7 days after dryness. Some ferments were then drained to oak to finish fermentation (~last 0.5°Bé). This has lent a smokey/meaty edge to the wine, enhancing it’s savoury appeal. Maturation in 35% new tight-grained oak has added spiciness and enhanced the natural tannin structure of the wine. Spontaneous malolactic fermentation followed in barrel in late autumn. Racked by gravity, except for final blending 2 months before bottling on the 4th May 2011. Finished wine pH 3.56, TA 6.5 g/L, 13.4%alc.
Leading with quite a sweet-fruited and fragrant nose, this wine has an overall savoury palate, made interesting by spicy oak, earthiness and whole-bunch complexity. In it’s youth, it will benefit from some aeration prior to service, and will normally look it’s best on day two (assuming it makes it that far!). We recommend serving the wine at slightly below room temperature (cold but not chilled). It makes a fine partner to japanese or chinese cuisines. It should start showing it’s best from around one year after bottling, May 2012, and should develop well for 5+ years. Bottled under screwcap to preserve freshness.