It does not seem that long ago that I received an invitation to attend a tasting conducted by Michael Hill-Smith at Rockpool for his (along with Martin Shaw) new label – Tolpuddle.
Two wines only – Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the 2012 vintage. I can remember my first taste of the Chardonnay – amazing bright perfumed citrus, stone fruit, honey, pain grille. Super fine and elegant yet with great depth, balance and precision. The wine carrying beautiful flavour all the way with a lean and long line of acid. In this way it’s like a great Grand Cru Chablis or 1er Cru Puligny Montrachet. A secret to the mouthfeel is that it develops flavour at low beaume and thus is light on its feet with outstanding acid balance. At the time I thought it to be the best Australian Chardonnay I had ever had. Ten years on, the 2012 is still in perfect condition.
At this week’s ten year vertical, a decade on from that 2012 wine, all ten Chardonnays were excellent. My favourites 2015, 2017 & 2018. What a treat.
Now, in September 2022, both the 2021 Chardonnay and 2021 Pinot Noir are ready for release.
Ian Cook - FWC
Tolpuddle Chardonnay 2021
The Tolpuddle wines always come with high expectations, so it is fantastic when those expectations are met, if not surpassed. Such was the case when trying the brand new 2021s recently. The Chardonnay is a ball of energy: lively acids, grilled nuts, grapefruit (a characteristic often associated with Chardonnay from Margaret River, but very much present in Tolpuddle Chardonnay most years), mineral undertones, flint and well-judged oak. It's layered in the sense that there is a touch of meal and oat below the surface, but for now the wine is primary and electric. A great continuation of style and yet again, one of the best Chardonnays in the country, no doubt. - Ches Cook, FWC. Echo – Ian Cook
The Tolpuddle story, or at least my perception of the early wines, differs slightly when it comes to the Pinot Noir. They had hit the ground running with Chardonnay – somewhat like Leeuwin Estate did back in the early 80’s. The Pinot Noir however, required a lot more work in the vineyard, including the introduction of new clones, initially grafted, and more recently new plantings of clones: Pommard, Best’s, MV6 and Abel.
Nine wines were in this vertical tasting this week (September 2022) – 2019 lost to smoke taint and never released. The older wines now mature: 2012, 2013 and 2016 – beautiful examples of soft, autumnal, earthy wines. The 2014 an odd man out looking youthful, whole bunchy and aromatic (a bit too much for my taste). The 2015, 2017 and 2018 the top wines of the tasting. 2020 & 2021 packing in much darker fruit from the introduction of new clones and lots more work in the vineyard relating to trellising and pruning. The new vintages showing more power and effortless perfume, with savoury spice and tannin with additional structure in great harmony with the fruit. These last two wines (and wines of the future) will have more cellaring potential than the early wines. I highly recommend them to you. Ian Cook - FWC
Tolpuddle Pinot Noir 2021
This looks great and is already rich in complexity and long on intensity. At its core is a nice ball of primary fruit: black cherry, darker berry notes and plum. These elements come with an inherent fruit sweetness but this is nicely tempered by fresh acidity and an abundance of savoury elements that other Australian Pinot producers can only dream of. it is here where the most interest is gained: wet earth, black soil, mushroom and decaying leaf. Here the primary fruit is nicely balanced by these earth-derived flavours, making for a very complete Pinot Noir. More of these flavours will develop with time, but the foundations for a seriously good Pinot Noir are already plain to see. - Ches Cook, FWC.