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Dexter’s Victoria Pinot Noir does it for Jancis

These are wines that somehow end up on the “oh, I didn’t even think of those” list. With Barossa Valley the flavour of the decade for Irish wine consumers for that no-nonsense bold fruit expression, we forget those restrained and elegant styles many parts of South Australia are capable of.

Check out my post on Western Australia’s Fonty’s Pool for an example of another gem that gets overlooked in the favour of Barossa’s finest. Not that there’s anything wrong with Barossa. My Friday nights are still dominated by the fruit bombs of Barossa it must be said.

Mornington Peninsula has been the focus of one of the world’s most curious palates. Jancis Robinson recently labelled Tod Dexter’s 2008 vintage Pinot Noir ‘a bargain’.

In fact, I was convinced that the most Burgundian of the lot had to be from the idiosyncratic Victorian Pinot Noir producer Bass Phillip. It turned out to have been grown on his own personal estate on the Mornington Peninsula by talented winemaker Tod Dexter, who, after extensive researches in Burgundy and experience in the US, has demonstrated much skill at Stonier, Yabby Lake and (with Shiraz) at Heathcote Estate.

Jancis Robinson, article entitled “Who makes the best Pinot Noir?”, Oct 2010.

Tod Dexter (pictured) grew up with wine. Along with his parents’ considerable interest in wine he had a childhood friendship with the Crittendon family, one of Melbourne’s premium wine merchants who further introduced him to the world of wine. It was then no surprise that in 1974 after a skiing trip in the US, Tod ended up in the Napa Valley where he spent a seven-year apprenticeship with one of California’s premium family wineries, Cakebread Cellars.

Tod moved home to Australia in January 1987, and after an extensive search he and his wife Debbie bought a vineyard site at Merricks North on the Mornington Peninsula. Later that year they planted their first 1.6 hectares of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Tod then joined forces with Brian Stonier at Stonier Wines where, over the next ten years, he grew the company to become one of Australia’s premium producers of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. During this decade the wines Tod created received many accolades both at home and internationally.

During a formative trip to France in 2000 when they visited the most famous Pinot producers in the world, Tod gained a new respect for the concept of terroir and the responsibility to future generations in caring for the land. He also had reinforced to him the importance of attention to detail in both the vineyard and winery. This trip was what encouraged Tod and Debbie to take the next step and produce their own wine. Thus Dexter Wines was born.

This might put this winery in perspective. Forget your small producers for a moment. You know the Cloudy Bay type. Supposedly artisan, yet managing to knock out enough juice to supply the entire worlds supermarkets and every other supermarket-wannabe. With Dexter’s first Chardonnay he produced a mere 936 bottles, of which we manged to get hold of two cases. That’s gone now and we are currently running the last of our 2007 Chardonnay and 2007 Pinot Noir before hopefully moving onto 2008 (that’s if we’re allowed any). Quantities are still minuscule at 1800 bottles per wine for the 2007s, but someone’s gotta drink ’em.

You’re not stuck for a good Pinot to go with your Turkey now, are you?

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  1. […] consumers of his wine are now reaping the benefits from vines that he and his wife planted in 1987. This is the story of an artisan wine producer from Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, and here is an interview with […]

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