Oh yes, these new Macedon Ranges wines from Balgownie Estate are special. So special that when I cracked the Pinot, in particular, I had to email winemaker Tony Winspear to find out more. A fact-finding mission to understand the specialness – particularly about how the flavour intensity in the Pinot was achieved at 12% alcohol. Here’s Tony:
“The Macedon fruit comes from the Cleveland Winery vineyard just outside Lancefield. Tricky site with 70% of the vineyard exposed to cold southerlies and the usual issues with rain and cold making harvest in April an adventure. Should we pick or should we hold off for another little bit of ripeness is always the question?
Fortunately, the fruit is ripe at lower Baumes which is quite exciting – good flavour at lower alcohol is something to savour. It has been great to follow a minimalist approach to these wines. BTW the size of the feet engaged in the pigeage was a size 5 womens. So obviously we have a great advantage with gentle extraction.”
Combine that context with some sympathetic winemaking and you have two very limited, very fine (and likely cellar-door-only) Victorian wines.
Balgownie Macedon Ranges Pinot Noir 2019
90 cases produced. Wild ferment, no additions bar a little sulphur, no fining of filtration, just perfection. Perfectly ripe raspberry fruit is unmistakable – you almost feel like there should be raspberry skins in there. Delightful. The palate is so airy too – there is spaces between fruit and acidity, with a real limpid freshness. Graceful, yet not unripe red fruits, definitely some acidity to tighten things up, then this finessed finish. Top gold stuff. And 12% alcohol! I thought that was a typo. 13.5% was my guess. Just wow.
Balgownie Macedon Ranges Pinot Noir 2019. Best drinking: now and over the next 3-5 years for the freshness factor. 18.7/20, 95/100. 12%, $50. Would I buy it? Absolutely.
Balgownie Macedon Ranges Chardonnay 2019
Wild ferment, 10 months in barrel. I enjoy wines like this so much. Worked, yet ultimately reserved style, the creamy layers of oak, and funk underpinned by a palate of coiled power, all nutty figs, custard and then stern, yet not hard, grapefruit acidity. Quite a complete package. I kept thinking that this style reminds me so much of the great Curly Flat wines, which makes sense given the vineyard. There’s this wonderful cohesion of flavour and acidity, all still restrained yet not unripe. Arguably it just needs another year really, but such a top wine. Indeed my score may look conservative next year. This is very much the ‘wines I like to drink’ zone.
Balgownie Macedon Ranges Chardonnay 2019. Best drinking: later this year or early next and then for at least eight years. 18.7/20, 95/100. 13%, $50. Would I buy it? Heck yes.
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