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Winery Spotlight - Bass Phillip (Gippsland)

February 14, 2021 3 min read

Winery Spotlight - Bass Phillip (Gippsland)

"The greatest Australian Pinot Noirs are those of Gippsland’s Bass Phillip...I was lucky to be present at the first official tasting in 1991 of the pinots made by Phillip Jones between 1984 and ’89, and knew I was in the presence of greatness."James Halliday

Every wine region in Australia has a champion, a flag bearer, a gold standard. Likewise for varietals; there's a producer that garners wide-spread recognition for being the best of the best.

And so we have Gippsland and Pinot Noir. And a single winery that is the undisputed shinning light for both variables. That winery is of course Bass Phillip.

Philip Jones established the vineyards way back in 1979 which, we can assure you, was very 'early doors' for Leongatha and Gippsland, more broadly. Winemaking has always been brutally uncompromising and natural in the pursuit of extreme quality. The vineyards have been farmed organically since 1993 and biodynamic since 2002. Again, very much an early adopter in this respect.

Tiny yields and minimal intervention add the cream to what are undeniably Australia's greatest Pinot Noirs. To prove the point the rare 'Reserve' comes from 5 rows of the MV6 clone yielding just 270 grams per vine. Crazy!

So it was big news early in 2020 when Jones announced that he would be selling Bass Phillip to Jean-Marie Fourrier, he of Burgundy's Domaine Fourrier no less! Jean-Marie Fourrier has taken an active and primary role in the management of the vineyards and the wine production process as Chief Winemaker.

“The Philosophy of Doing Nothing” is Jean-Marie’s winemaking motto. Making great wines begin in the vineyard, constant / fastidious focus on maintaining healthy, well nurtured vines, followed by strict and extremely natural winemaking techniques.

It is inevitable that a new boss brings change and as part of this process the Pinot Noir range will be rationalised and sadly this means 'Old Cellar' label will be discontinued. We negotiated a bulk purchase from the winery and this means we can offer Australia's best price ($35.99) on Bass Phillip's 'entry-level' Pinot.

The Crown Prince ($64.00) is where things start to get serious with Bass Phillip. Typically, it's the most easy going of the Pinot Noirs, with ripe plum fruits, softness and balance.  But don't let this "easy going" moniker fool you.  This wine comes from the major part of the Leongatha vineyard (where the Estate, Premium and Reserve Pinots come from).  This wine is all about spice and long tangy flavour. More gentle in fruits, but rather complex at the same time.

"A sultry style of pinot that has plenty of suave red-cherry and fresh-violet aromas. The palate has a very fleshy feel with supple flavors of red and dark cherries. A nice kick of juicy acidity livens up the finish." 92pts - Nick Stock -

The Estate Pinot Noir ($88.00) is the first of the flagbearer wines along with the Premium and the Reserve. Released every year, the grapes are sourced from the original block planted in 1979. That is, the same vineyard source as the Premium and Reserve.

"This has a strikingly complex, intense nose with a rich array of cherries and berries, grapefruit and pomegranate, plenty of fruit spice, light pepper and a gently creamy, baking-spice oak thread. The palate has a very rich, intense delivery of beautifully ripe red cherries, framed in fine yet sturdy tannins. Long, fresh and energetic finish. Drink or hold." Nick Stock -

As always stocks of Bass Phillip are limited so we cannot guarantee supply for more than a few weeks.

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