James Halliday, The Weekend Australian Magazine September 23-24 2017
Jim Chatto has a razor sharp palate, a quicksilver mind and an outgoing personality. There are other winemakers in Australia with similar talents, but none has the X-factor of being able to turn the impossible internality, and keep everyone in the loop happy.
Chatto is now chief winemaker of McWilliam’s Wine Group and Kreglinger Wine Estates (Pipers Brook) and co-owner with his wife Daisy of his eponymous Tasmanian vineyard, which is as tiny (866 dozen) as McWilliams is large, with Pipers Brook in between at 70,000 dozen.
Time was when the large wineries would not tolerate any of their winemakers making wine on their own behalf, no matter how small. But chief winemaker for two major wine groups and his own family venture? It’s truly without precedent.
The other day Chatto launched the ’16 Chatto pinot noir, the Huon Valley White Label and the Isle Black Label, tossing yet more balls into the air. The four-course degustation lunch pitted Chatto (’13) and Chatto Isle (’14 and ’15) in a blind tasting against Grand Cru and Premier Cru burgundies of Mongeard-Mugneret.
He came away a happy yet humble man, saying:”I’m just at the start of a long journey. I know that I’ll make better wines as I absorb the multitude of lessons and experience year on year. Even more, I know by the time my daughters are was old as I am now, they’ll be making better wines than those of today,”
Chatto only has 1.5ha of vines, with two clones (777 and 115) on the best soil going to the estate based Isle Black Label. The other part has eight clones, supplemented by yet more in the form of very small amounts of contract-grown fruit for the White Label – including the Abel clone (5% of the total volume of this wine), which has Chatto buzzing with excitement. His children had better keep a close eye on the old man.
2016 Huon Valley Pinot Noir
The bouquet is still locked up, the palate anything but: intensely and immediately expressive, dark cherry/berry fruits held in an embrace of fine but persistent tannins and an airbrush of French oak. Its balance and length guarantee a long future, with spices bursting through.
97 Points; to 2030
The Winefront – Campbell Mattinson 28 July 2017.
2016 Huon Valley Pinot Noir
Chatto and his home vineyard down in the Deep South of Tasmania are killing it right now.
The wines being grown on this vineyard are remarkable. A long and storied history looks likely; we’re getting in on the ground floor. This adds a chalkiness to the foresty fruit, the warm spice, the florals here peppered with scrunched dry leaves. It matches presence to persistence; it places every step as firmly as it does carefully. Time will bring yet greater charm.
94 Points; to 2025+