The second vintage of Yering Station’s Scarlett pinot noir is due to land next month, with winemaker Brendan Hawker calling the $250 reserve wine one of “inherent purity and balance”.
Only 1100 bottles of the 2015 Scarlett Pinot Noir have been made, using fruit from the same nine rows of Yarra Valley vines as the 2013 release (97 points). The limited release label is named in honour of the late Nathan Scarlett (1975-2013) who pioneered the precision viticulture program at Yering Station and other Rathbone Wine Group vineyards.
It was Nathan who identified the parcel in Block A1 as the estate’s best for the varietal using techniques such as electromagnetic soil mapping and aerial infrared imaging, in addition to accumulated knowledge about Victoria’s oldest commercial vineyard.
Brendan says: “The fruit character and length we get from this special patch of dirt is incredible. The taste difference between fruit from different parts of the vineyard is nowhere as dramatic as you get in the final product but using this technology allows us to quickly and precisely establish where and when the best parcels start and end.”
He continues: “We’re lucky with our pinot because the line of separation for the ‘sweet spot’ where the soil is deeper and the plant cell density is greater actually follows the row, whereas our shiraz sweet spot is in the middle at Coldstream.” Brendan says the data has also informed soil management and fertilisation more broadly, leading to “dramatic improvements” across the vineyard.
Though the winemaking team naturally feels under pressure to do justice to Nathan Scarlett’s legacy, the changes he set in motion and more selective harvesting seem to be making the job easy. “The Scarlett is actually the easiest wine to make because we’re using this perfect batch of fruit that the vineyard team has put so much time and care into; our job in the winery is just to try and not get in the way of the fruit,” says Brendan.
Looking ahead, it is not a given that a Scarlett wine will be released each year or that it will be a pinot noir. Brendan explains: “I like the idea that the Scarlett has the potential to be a different variety from year to year as the Scarlett label applies to exceptional parcels of fruit we have identified and refined within our vineyards, which in turn produce some exceptional barrels of wine.” This focus on quality is why there was no Scarlett in 2014.
Brendan is confident that anyone who enjoyed the 2013 Scarlett Pinot Noir will be delighted by the new release. “Both years we had quite a balanced growing season but the 2015 was 100 per cent destemmed and I’d say we’ve got more dark cherry at the fore,” he says.
The 2015 Yering Station Scarlett Pinot Noir will be released online and at cellar door on July 6, 2017.
This article was featured as a news advertorial on the Wine Companion website on June 2, 2017.