Friday, January 14, 2011


- Derwent River Valley/Coal River Valley/East Coast Tasmania, TAS
- $33-$43
- Screwcap
- 13.5%alc

In its early days I wasn't terribly enthused by Bay of Fires Pinot Noir, but the last 3 vintages (since 2007) have conclusively changed my mind, leading me to now consider it among Tasmania's best. Fran Austin's cross-state blend incorporates fruit from Tasmania's south (Derwent River Valley and Coal River Valley) and east in 2009.

Woho! Bay of Fires' 2009 Pinot Noir jumps out with an intensely aromatic, strongly varietal nose that has nothing to hide. A bright, vividly ripened fragrance of dark cherries and blackberry form the base of an aroma that's enriched by an array of meaty, floral, herbal and lightly spiced suggestions, with a smooth measure of clove-like vanilla oak honed in with real class. Extended aeration reveals a charming note of caramel as well. For all its aromatic intensity it's surprisingly supple on the palate, yet in no way short of flavour; as it slides into the mouth with a pleasingly composed, medium-bodied expression of dark forest fruits, cedar/ground coffee-like oak and herbs, all graced by a touch of animal hide to excite. It finishes with true grip, dryness and finesse, as an ideally tuned backbone of fine-grained, dusty tannins and tight acid draws everything into place alongside persisting notes of herb and spice, which become progressively drier as its tannic song plays out.

ü+ Big company ownership, cross-regional blending within one state, larger-scale production, ample distribution, true winemaking polish, genuinely undervalued and becoming consistently brilliant. Do Bay of Fires stand to become the Penfolds of Australian pinot noir? Drink to 2016.
94 points


  1. there will never be a penfolds of australian pinot noir.

  2. The would need to start adding tannin to become the Penfolds of Pinot ;)

    Seriously though they are doing good things down there at Bay of Fires aren't they! Great to see.

  3. Anon,

    You're probably (hopefully?) right. Although with their Cellar Reserve and Bin 23, I'm sure Penfolds might like to consider themselves the Penfolds of Australian pinot noir. Now I'm just starting to confuse myself..... ;)


    That, and they'd have to release 11 different pinot noir labels across 4 different price ranges, and inspire a Chinese counterfeit 'Day of Fires' label ;)