The second stop on my Margaret River journey was at one of Australia's best known makers of chardonnay, Pierro. Now I haven't been a big fan of Pierro's entire range lately, so essentially I arrived in search of one wine; the 2007 Chardonnay.
Pierro's cellar door is located in an older, wooden building with plenty of earthy charm. With a river passing by the adjacent vineyards, ample trees and an adjoining multi-storey wooden building, it looks like the kind of place an Ewok family might go to raise kids. Very homely inside too.
The lovely Trudy worked the cellar door on this particular day. Trudy is a self confessed wine enthusiast who admits to not drinking a lot of red wines (perhaps unusual for someone working a cellar door in Australia's leading cabernet region?), but she certainly has gracious personality. She was humbling and honest, whilst lacking that 'elitist' attitude which I encountered at other Margaret River cellar doors. I also appreciated that she didn't give me the typical 'preconceived spiel' on Pierro's wine. She seemed much more interested in having a good old fashioned chat, and letting me make up my own mind on the wines.
Trudy did stump me with one question though. A couple of wines and a good chat into the tasting Trudy asked; "At what point did you realise you had an excellent palate?" She honestly had me completely stumped. I've never for a second thought I possessed an excellent palate.
I explained to Trudy I didn't believe I had an excellent palate, but if anyone did than my girlfriend Beck did. She's a serious foodie who was born and raised with a sense of appreciation for all things taste, which she easily translates over to a basic understanding of wine appreciation. I on the other hand was not raised this way. Any palate development I may have personally experienced is more through theory, training, and a seriously large amount of serious drinking. Anyone can acquire the ability to assess wine at an expert level with only a small amount of training, it's just such a subjective thing.
Pierro Chardonnay 2007 ($70)
Unsurprisingly to me the Pierro range didn't exactly set me on fire. Even the 2007 Chardonnay let me down a bit. It didn't immediately leap out the glass at me with a fine melange of fruit and oak like the previous two wines did. This translated over to the palate too, which although smoothly textured and deeply flavoured, it lacked vibrancy, structure, length, penetrating acidity, and most notably; drive. 92
Pierro Fire Gully Chardonnay 2007 ($27)
The second label, Fire Gully produced a more attractive chardonnay to me from 2007, taking price into consideration of course. It showed nice, easy drinking and rounded textures with a clean balance of regional fruits and sweet, toasty vanilla oak. Stylistically it reminded me a bit of some of Leeuwin's Preludes, and the value was certainly there. 90
Pierro Semillon Sauvignon Blanc LTC 2008 ($27)
This wine had a variety of blending components thrown into it seemingly. Some oaked semillon, some unoaked, some oaked savvy, some unoaked, and then a small measure of chardonnay (5% I think). I'm not sure what the little touch of chardonnay really adds to the wine, other than providing it with a cool sounding name. The wine seemed to show a diminished fruit profile, with the accent being more on a reduced, savoury character profile and interesting texture. Personally I felt it suffered much the same problems as the chardonnay, and was a bit of a let down for my first tasting of an oaked Margaret River sem/sav blend on this trip. 87
Pierro Pinot Noir 2007 ($43)
Trudy, who didn't like red wines remember, told me this was her favourite red. Like Moss Wood's, I think there are elements to like here, some genuinely varietal aroma, touch of stalk, red fruit characters and a fairly supple texture, but also like Moss Wood's, I think it is definitely not worth $50. I'm not sure how the Margaret River will ever compete with Australia's other pinot districts when their wines are so overpriced. These wines are better suited to the $20-$25 range in my opinion. 87
Pierro Cabernet Merlot LTCf 2006 ($33)
Certainly show the constraints of the coldest vintage on record in the Margaret River. A real lack of genuine ripeness evident, with plenty of thin, tea-leaf aromas and watery berry flavour. Unfortunately it wasn't the only average 2006 red I tasted on my trip. A vintage I would become better acquainted with then I intended over the next week. More 2007's would've been nice....85
Pierro Reserve Cabernet Merlot 2004 ($63)
60% cabernet sauvignon and 30% merlot with the remaining 10% made up of the other 3 Bordeaux varieties. Merlot really dominated the nose here, with tea-leaf and plummy aromas, but cabernet took over the palate, pushing through a very strong presence of iron clad tannins which completely over powered its fruit base. It didn't lack for length or structure that's for sure. Pierro probably should've done better with the excellent vintage conditions. 89