I have to applaud Lindsay Barratt on the generosity and courage shown in his pinot noir vertical tasting. Bringing out 15 year old wines was a brave move, especially when in some cases, he was down to the last two or three bottles in his personal collection. Although some of these bottles appeared to be past their best, they provided an interesting insight into the development process of Adelaide Hills pinot noir.
If anything was apparent from the tasting it was that Barratt's Pinot Noir has steadily improved over time. The last two vintages in particular looking very good indeed, with the depth of fruit and structure to last longer than most of their fore-bearers.
Here are my tasting notes, keeping in mind that Barratt didn't release a Reserve Pinot Noir until 2001. For interest, the current vintage Reserve Pinot Noir sells for $42 a bottle.
BARRATT PINOT NOIR 1994 Red/brown colour. Deep set, rich nose, with suede, spearmint and forest floor aromas evident alongside caramel undertones. Surprisingly rich and smooth, savoury palate with some varnishy aspects. Drinking alright - just. 89
BARRATT PINOT NOIR 1995 Very developed colour. Dirty/suede nose. Palate lacks definition and character, as well as falls apart on finish. N/R
BARRATT PINOT NOIR 1996 Easily the best of the older wines. Still holding good depth of colour. Gamey, still fresh nose shows hints of undergrowth and intriguing, chargrilled capsicum tones. Fluffy, soft palate has good length with a bright, vibrant finish. 92
BARRATT PINOT NOIR 1997 Looks like muscat. Strange; spicy, herbal, dusty, bitey aromas. Bizarre palate, very un-pinot like. N/R
BARRATT PINOT NOIR 1999 Red/brown. Nose still shows strong currant fruits, both red and black. Light bodied, elegant, understated palate. Very clean and polite, just needs to show a little more character and interest. 88
BARRATT RESERVE PINOT NOIR 2002 Complex and inviting bouquet - vibrant, savoury, cured meat and dark cherry aromas. Supple palate with an almost juicy mid-section. Very understated style once again, but this time showing good balance and integration of fruit, oak, tannin and acid. Probably a good indication of when Barratt's pinots would best be drunk. 91
BARRATT RESERVE PINOT NOIR 2005 Distinct, spicy cedar/French oak nose with youthful red and black berry fruits. Good depth of fruit on the palate, supported by fine, sandy tannins. Finishes firm. Probably not even half way into its development. 91
BARRATT RESERVE PINOT NOIR 2006 Perfumed, fragrant French cedar/vanilla oak nose with restrained red fruits and spice. Most full-bodied, luscious palate with a vibrantly fruited core. Good length and tannin. Well balanced; generous fruit and oak. 93
Lindasy Barratt was kind enough to bring out barrel samples of four different pinot noir clones from the 2009 vintage. Far from finished wines, these tasting notes are more for curiosity's sake.
777 CLONE 2009 Strong, pencil shavings like oak alongside lolly fruit profile. Floral, rose petal like flavour with sweet finish.
MV6 CLONE 2009 Vibrant, fuscia colour. Floral aroma with pencil shavings like oak again prominent. Ample depth to both colour and aroma for barrel sample. Very drinkable and smooth, surprisingly balanced, could almost pass for rose.
D5V12 CLONE 2009 Champagne clone, not Burgundy. Oaked nose overlies sweet raspberry fruits. Surprisingly silky texture with bright, sour acidity.
D4V2 CLONE 2009 More complex, with cured meat apparent on the nose. Shows more palate balance and integration than the others.