We produce generous, full bodied wines from old vines growing in a warm climate. They are best consumed with equally flavoursome food.
Light wines…it’s just not us!
In recent times, the wine press and commentators have been promoting lighter wines and lower alcohol wines.
Rae and I have discussed whether we should be trying to produce lighter wines ourselves, in keeping with the trend.
But it just isn’t us!
Firstly, it would be working against nature to do so. We produce our wines from old, low yielding vines growing in a warm climate, so we are bound to make full bodied reds. And then there is our history. We have always produced full bodied reds, since dad first began making wine here in the 1970s. So we plan to stick with what we do, whilst always striving to do it better.
I think it's important to 'follow your heart' when creating your wine.
My heart is in producing full bodied reds.
Temperature…more important than you think!
“No single aspect of serving wine makes or mars it so easily as getting the temperature right.” So says Hugh Johnson in his Pocket Wine Book and I couldn’t agree more. But how good are we at getting it right?
The temperature of white wines is routinely adjusted before we serve them, without even giving it conscious thought. It’s a matter of habit to put our white wines in the fridge ahead of time and an embarrassment to serve them too warm (the fridge is actually too cold but it works ok because they quickly come up to the right drinking temperature in your glass in the warmer weather).
But when it comes to reds, we are typically much less careful. We know they usually taste best at ‘cellar temperature’ and sub-consciously we know that our ‘cellar’ (which is usually just a room of the house) is warmer than ideal. But isn’t that close enough? And what can you do about it anyway?
Well, that depends on how much pleasure you derive from your red wine. A solution is worth finding and fairly easy if the answer is “a lot”!
‘Wine cabinets’ are now readily available and not expensive for the small, basic ones which will hold around 30 bottles at ideal serving temperature.
The ideal serving temperature depends on the body and tannin level of the wine. Lighter bodied reds without significant tannin structure (Beaujolais or basic Pinot Noir from a cool climate) are best served cooler, at say 12-14 degrees. We don’t traditionally make many of these styles of red wines in Australia but they are becoming more common.
Fuller bodied reds with significant structure are at the opposite end of the scale and are best served somewhat warmer, as the tannin will predominate at lower temperatures, giving an overly dry aftertaste. We recommend 16-18 degrees for consuming our reds. If these types of wine are served too warm though (a common occurrence I would suggest) they can taste hot from their higher alcohol levels and lack vitality.
As Murray Tyrrell observed more than 40 years ago, in Australia we generally serve our red wines too hot and our white wines too cold. Reds should be at no more than 18 degrees in the glass for the biggest wines and whites should be at no less than 6 degrees for the lightest wines.
Considering the time, effort and money that has gone into getting the wine to your table, it’s worth maximising your enjoyment by serving it at the right temperature. If you’ve not experienced the effect before, try tasting the same wine at two different temperatures only 5 degrees apart and see for yourself. You'll be surprised at the difference it makes.
Tasting and maturation
We regularly taste back vintages in our range and usually find that the wines are exceeding our recommended cellaring times. We typically find the wines go through a transitional “teenage” stage at around 4-5 years of age when they begin exchanging their youthful fruit for the more mellow flavours of maturity. They can be hard to understand during this period; we suggest you wait a year or two to allow further bottle development. The wines then reach a plateau period when they are at their mature best (usually lasting around 10 years) followed by a slow decline. Select any of the wine buttons for more detail on that particular wine.
We recommend decanting and waiting for half an hour (or so) before consuming the wines. This improves the flavour. As a general rule, the older the wine, the shorter the time required between decanting and consuming. Decant wines more than 15 years old just before serving.
Alternatively, we often serve the wines directly from bottle without decanting and allow time to follow their development in the glass over 30 minutes or more as they ‘open up’. We are frequently surprised to see the difference this aeration makes.
Having said all that, there is of course much pleasure to be had from drinking the wines in their youth. They are a pleasure to drink either way. And better to drink them too young than too old because there's no going back!
A final observation about consuming the wines; these are robust wines, not light thirst quenchers. They are not troubled by a little oxygen, especially in their youth, so keeping part of a bottle for consumption the following day is no problem. This is an advantage of full bodied reds. In fact customers regularly tell us they find the flavour of our wines as good or better the next day as when the bottle was opened.
Oak vessels are an important part of our wine production, from fermentation to maturation.
Oak barrels provide a permeable membrane through which oxygen can pass, allowing the wine to develop and mature, gaining softness and richness. Oak-derived flavour and tannin from new barrels is also important in the taste and makeup of some of our wines. We typically use 30-40% new barrels in producing the Reserve Shiraz and Cabernet but only 0-5% for the Grenache-based Eclipse. Our old vineyards reflect the seasons clearly and so our oak use also varies somewhat from year to year, to stay in harmony with the wine of each vintage.
The End Result
All of the wines are fermented, matured and bottled entirely on the estate. The reds are fermented in open vats and pressed using traditional basket presses. This method of extraction is one of the gentlest, which we believe produces softer, richer wines. After pressing, the young wine is matured in a combination of small (300 & 225 litre) American & French oak barrels and large (foudre and demi-muid sized) oak casks for 18 months. We watch over them carefully during this time, generally intervening only for regular topping up and to conduct the occasional racking off the sediment. It is then that the wine is ready to make the final transition to bottle. There is little or no fining or filtration used prior to bottling. Both of these are extra processing steps that are best avoided, where possible. It is normal that a little sediment will form in the bottle during maturation but this is easily removed by decanting prior to serving if you wish.
In search of increasing refinement...
Whilst we remain committed to producing full bodied red wines, we are constantly seeking to improve and refine them. I think that refinement is important when given such natural generosity.
To this end we manipulate the wines as little as possible, keeping all additives to a minimum in the vineyard and the winery.
The benefit is more pure, natural tasting wine which more transparently reflects the place it comes from and the vintage.
Other changes have come about following the introduction of screw caps in 2012. This more reliable seal slows the average development of the wine in bottle and our wine making has changed to allow for the different closure. We now give the wines longer in vat and have increased their exposure to oxygen during barrel maturation. This produces a more refined flavour but reduces the colour density and purple hue slightly for the first couple of years following bottling. The colour however should be more stable over time.
We remain on a path of continuous improvement.
Drew and Rae Noon.
© 2016 Noon Winery