Pinot Gris is a relatively recent addition to wine varieties in Australia, but it has been embraced by wine drinkers for it’s lightness and ability to match with a variety of different cuisines.
There is much confusion concerning the difference between Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio. They are actually the exact same grape variety, known as Pinot Gris in France and Pinot Grigio in Italy. The name actually means the same thing in French and Italian – grey pinot. Pinot Gris is in fact a mutation of the red variety Pinot Noir and on the vine it tends to look bluey/grey and often some brown hints.
While the grape variety is exactly the same, the style of wine that is produced is very different. The Italian Pinot Grigios are picked early and are usually light-bodied, crisp with stone fruit and floral aromas. The French versions are late picked and are bigger and richer styles with a spicer character and often a touch of sweetness and oak. Australian styles tend to sit somewhere in the middle with rich fruit flavours and a delightful, crisp dry finish.
Balgownie Estate has been producing Pinot Gris since 2009 from a vineyard planted in the cooler climates around Yarra Junction. The characteristic style of Balgownie has a touch of sweetness and a hint of oak character resulting in a style closer to a French pinot Gris.
Balgownie Estate 2015 Pinot Gris has delicious flavours of pear and citrus with a touch of rose petal and almonds. The wine spends five months in old French oak barrels to impart some texture and a hint of creaminess to the palate. There is a touch of sweetness which is balanced by the fresh, crisp acid and the long finish on the end. A perfect wine to drink now but one that will grow in complexity over the next five years.
Spring is in the air as the vines hve certainly woken from their winter slumber at Balgownie Estate. The vines have burst into life as the warm weather and the good rainfall over the cooler months have encouraged budburst, the first step in the formation of the new crop of grapes.
We have our fingers crossed for the warm weather to continue to protect the new buds and deliver an outstanding crop in 2016.
We are very excited that for the first time ever Balgownie Estate will have a still Rosé. It will be launched just in time for the warm weather in summer, and is made exclusively from Shiraz grapes grown in our vineyards in Bendigo that have been picked early to retain their vibrant and juicy fruit flavours.
A refreshing and delightful drop that is sure to delight your taste buds and become the wine of choice for picnics, barbeques or any gathering during the warmer weather.
Winemaker Tony Winspear checks a tank sample of Balgownie's first ever still Rosé.
"Often a surly thing as a youngster, but very much a legend of Australian Wine, though maybe one that has fallen out of fashion? Dark cherries, licorice, mint, cedar, sweet rolling tobacco and hazlenuts. medium to full bodied, richly fruited, but deeply savoury and tannic with it. Has an ironstone minerality through it, and all the way, those tannins ride the wine hard and remind you that it's Cabernet, and not to be taken lightly. Finish is precise and very long. Fleshy but serious. In short, bloody good." Drink 2018 - 2032
Rated: 94+ points
Read more here.
"Back in the 70s and 80s, this was one of Australia's top wines. Period. When I was first getting into wine 15 odd years ago Balgownie still had an almost mythical status - as if the wines had a bit of magic about them. Thankfully, I've been lucky to have a few of those 70s and 80s wines and they are still in remarkable health.
This Cabernet, though, firmly harks back to the good old days - it smells Bendigoan, with that classic berry mint in a beautiful form. The oak sits firmly on the nose but the palate weight and fruit richness really carry that oak. Texturally it's brilliant, silken and fine, the tannins drying but perfectly formed. It's actually refreshing, the odd hint of eucalypt reminding that we're in Bendigo, the fruit sweet and never overwrought. A delicious, utterly classic Bendigo red of style and persistence, this is a wonderful reminder of the best of Balgownie."
Score: 18.5/20, 94/100
Would I buy it? Yes. Well priced too. Should live for many years to boot.
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"Hums with flavours, rattles with tannin, delights with perfume. Six years old and singing a melodious song. Blackberry, tar, mint and musky, floral tones sink into rich, luscious leather. An enthralling drink now, as it shall remain for many years to come". Drink to 2029 Rating 96
"Good colour, a splash of vanillan/coffeed oak and a wealth of grainy, tannin-shot fruit. This is a sure contender for the cellar. Sweet, ripe blackberry and violet with mint notes at modest levels. Not exactly bright, but fresh and lively enough. Indeed, all seems in excellent order." Drink to 2032 Rating 94
"Mid-weight wine in the classic mould. Fruit folded with oak and tannin. Succulent flavours of mint, blackberry, peppercorn and blackcurrant, with gently creamy oak adding a slippery smoothness. Dry tannin comes soaked in juicy fruit. Length of flavour is a feature." Drink to 2030 Rating 94
"Black cherry, thyme and herbal perfume, new leather, some subtle vanilla oak in the background. Medium bodied, chewy and chalky tannin, ripe fruit but not over-done, lovely acidity, definite minerally feel and a good chop of tannin on a long dry finish. Feels great, and that's one of the ticks for top Sangio.Not seen too many Australian examples that hit it square on like this one. Bravo." 93 points. Gary Walsh
Rated: 93 Points
Tasted: Jun 15
Winter in the vineyard seems like a time where there is not much happening – the vines drop their leaves and enter a period of dormancy where they hibernate and consolidate what occurred during the growing season.
However for the vineyard staff winter is an important time for doing maintenance in the vineyard and also for pruning. The purpose of pruning is to maintain the vine in a form that delivers the desired crop at its peak of quality. In essence we want the vine to have sufficient leaves to produce the ripeness in the grapes that we desire.
All of our vines at Balgownie Estate are hand pruned by our skilled staff using pneumatic shears. It is vital for the pruning to be done correctly to enable an excellent crop for the following year – any mistakes can mean that the vine can be out of balance during vintage which will impact the quality of the fruit.
In the Yarra Valley we use a trellis system called vertical shoot-positioning that trains the vines into a narrow vertical canopy. There is a series of foliage wires that sweep the canes up in to this vertical canopy. This produces an efficient vine that allows a lot of sunlight to penetrate and ripen the fruit - an important consideration in the cool climate of the Yarra Valley.
A pruned Pinot Noir vine in the Yarra Valley showing the canes positioned vertically by the foilage wires.
Winemaker Tony Winspear hosted a masterclass tasting of Balgownie’s Estate Cabernet Sauvignon that examined 14 vintages of this exceptional wine.
The Estate Cabernet comes from the original vineyards in Bendigo, in a carefully selected site at Maiden Gully, planted by founder Stuart Anderson in 1969. Stuart produced the first vintage of this wine in 1972. Since then the vineyard has produced a continuing string of outstanding wines that demonstrate the extraordinary potential of the Bendigo vineyard site and climate for producing sensational and age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignon.
Some highlights of the 14 vintages tasted were:
1993 – At 22 years of age this was an exceptionally beautiful and mature wine with flavours of dried fruit, mushroom, olives, raisins, cigar box and a hint of blackcurrant. The palate was lively and fresh with exceptional structure and persistence. This wine impressed our tasters, proving to be an outstanding wine to drink and enjoy now or cellar short-term.
1998 – Another lovely mature wine with intense flavours and richness. The wine was smooth and supple with flavours of dried fruit, earthiness, mint, spice and a touch of cedar oak. With its persistent fine tannins and flavour length this wine was beautiful to drink now, but showed good cellaring potential for the next few years.
2004 – An amazingly youthful and elegant wine with vibrant fresh fruit characters and hint of bottle-age complexity. The wine revealed classic young Cabernet flavours of cassis and mint with a touch of cigar box oak and leafiness. With only eleven years of age this wine finished with attractive fine tannins. It should continue to age very well over the next decade.
2006 – A young and robust Cabernet that reflects the warm vintage conditions of the year. Lots of body and richness to the wine with plum and current flavours with hints of mint and layers of spice. Deep flavours and the long and fine tannin structure suggests the wine’s potential for a long life.
2010 – The current release in our Cellar Door demonstrated the consistency with the Estate style of the previous years. A very elegant wine with beautiful flavour balance and seamlessly integrated French oak. The plush tannin grip on the end of the palate and the rich fruit indicate a good future for this wine.
2012 – An amazing rich and full-bodied wine that has impeccable balance and elegance. Abounding with fruit flavours of blackberry, spice and oak, this complex and weighty wine has great persistence and should cellar exceptionally well.
2013 – A sneak peak of this yet to be release vintage. A rich and robust red with lots of flavour and a very elegant tannin structure and seamless oak. Still very young but should have a long future when released.
2013 Black Label Sangiovese
Sangiovese (pronounced san-jo-veh-zeh), is an Italian grape variety whose name translates literally as ‘blood of Jove’. The variety hails from the beautiful region of Tuscany, where it is the mainstay variety of a number of famous Italian wines such as Chianti and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
Balgownie Estate has been growing Sangiovese in Bendigo since 1999. Sangiovese is a delicate grape variety that prefers temperate growing conditions, similar to those found in the Bendigo region. The variety requires careful attention in the vineyard in order to maximise its potential. The 2013 vintage provided ideal growing conditions for Sangiovese – a long warm growing season that avoided any extreme warm or low temperatures.
With its medium body Sangiovese is an ideal choice to accompany a wide variety of different dishes and cuisines. This versatility as a food wine has been the driving force behind the increase in the popularity of Sangiovese and has contributed to the rise in the number of wineries now planting the variety. The typical elegance of the wine with its texture and density and characteristic savoury plum and cherry flavours make it the perfect wine to accompany tapas, grilled meat such as pork, chicken and lamb and of course it is the ideal match for pasta topped with a rich ragù.
This new release marks the fifth vintage of this intriguing varietal and presents a wine with a deep red colour that displays aromas of savoury cherry, spice and pepper notes accompanied by subtle oak. The medium bodied palate is rich with ripe black cherry fruits, with nuances of plum, spice, and a touch of bitter almond. The very fine ripe tannins contribute to the impeccable balance of the wine and lead to a long fine finish. This is a wine that demands to be served with a meal, it is a delicious wine to drink young but will reward patient cellaring for the next five years.
Read Andrew Graham at the Australian Wine Review thoughts on Balgownie Sangiovese;
For a limited time purchase six bottles of Sangiovese for $147.90 (normally $174) and receive free shipping anywhere in Australia. (Available for a limited time only)