Even though I've always cast my doubts over Nepenthe's ability to produce truly great pinot noir, I remain constantly on the lookout for worthy examples of the style from my home state. So, when Nepenthe's 2010 Good Doctor recently grabbed the bling for 'Best Pinot Noir' (judge's choice) at the South Australian Wine of the Year awards, I felt compelled to take a trip back up through Balhannah to investigate.
Quite fragrant and arrestingly varietal for an Adelaide Hills pinot; particularly a Nepenthe, the 2010 Good Doctor opens to a pretty, musky nose scented with bright cherries, rhubarb, cured meats and soft vanilla oak, with side notes of spearmint, caramel and clove providing a lively edge. Its ripeness and handling are pitched about right, making the whole aromatic presentation a shock in the best of ways. Silky, long and wide, the palate doesn't really let the wine down, but I would've loved to have seen more tightness, focus and flesh, as its meaty, juicy strawberry flavours seem to wash around the mouth in an unusually spread, slightly loose fashion, without ever spiralling down the palate with taut direction, or ever commanding the mouth's upper reaches with a definitive structural backbone. Having said that, what is there is composed, balanced and completely ready to drink, while its smooth fruit shows good persistence and a pleasingly herbal, smoked meat and tomato-like aftertaste. Essentially, its quality reminds me of some of Victoria and Tasmania's better second labels, when really, it's an Adelaide Hills reserve label.
ü I'm happy to say Nepenthe's 2010 Good Doctor is the best pinot noir I've had from their stable, however, it might be better suited to the short term. If it's a precursor of what's to come from the Adelaide Hills' 2010 pinot crop, then I'll be waiting with eager anticipation. Drink 2012-2015.