Do not panic, there could just be a shortage of grape variety
Mandala Wines owner and winemaker Charles Smedley says the Pinot Noir harvest in the Yarra Valley is down about 40%.
“We had storms and winds in October and November during flowering and fruit set, so we had very poor fruit set with very small bunches,” says Smedley.
While volume is down, Smedley says the quality of harvested pinot noir grapes is not.
“It gave us mediocre tonnage, but we’re getting exceptional fruit with great flavors. Looking back, 2022 will be one of the most exciting vintages we will see,” he says.
Victor Nash, chief winemaker at Mitchelton Wines, says the pinot noir has been in “very rare” for three to four years.
“People are drinking more pinot noir and there just wasn’t the supply in the first place,” he says. “There is definitely a shift in consumption towards lighter wines and of course pinot ticks that box and at the same time only 4% of the national harvest is planted for pinot noir.”
The poor harvest came as demand for the variety grew from consumers, with pinot noir sales skyrocketing in recent years at online wine retailer Vinomofo
“There has been an increase and increase in interest and consumption of what you might call slightly lighter styles of wine,” said Vinomofo president Paul Henry. “I think it’s just the general maturity in Australia as a drinking nation and this generation looking for new things when the newer generations tend to do more than necessarily inherit the habits and stylistic inclinations of the previous generation.”
Henry says getting enough Pinot Noir for Vinomofo customers has “never been easy” and is especially challenging right now.
“The trick with Pinot Noir is finding enough quantities at the right price,” he says. “It’s kind of a seller’s market right now.”
Despite the lack of supply, Klintworth says there is no question of making his gin with another more readily available variety of wine.
“Pinot noir really sums up the red wine of the Mornington Peninsula region, which is what the peninsula is known for,” she says. “It was about producing a gin that well embodies our region and our location here on the peninsula.”
The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the most important and interesting stories, analysis and ideas of the day. register here.