James Halliday, The Weekend Australian Magazine November 24-25 2018
If you were asked to pick two regions that illustrated the vast differences and distances on the Australian viticultural map, the hot Hunter Valley in NSW and the cold Huon Valley of Tasmania would be obvious choices.
Tasmania was a conundrum. It was one of the first regions to make wine for commercial sale. in 1823 Bartholomew Broughton planted a vineyard near Hobart. But it proved all too difficult and it wasn’t until 1956 when French engineer Jean Miguet defied orthodoxy by establishing Provence (changed to Providence after his death) – Claudio Alcorso followed suit in 1958 with Moorilla Estate – that winemaking in Tasmania was revived.
Strange, then, that one of the best winemakers today, 46 year old Jim Chatto, has moved between the Hunter Valley and southern Tasmania since he began his distance education degree in wine science and applied for his first job at Mount Pleasant in 1994. He didn’t get the job, instead joining nearby Tamburlaine. in 1998 he obtained his degree and became winemaker in charge at Rosevears Estate in Tasmania’s Tamar Valley, where I came face to face with the most talented associate wine judge I have ever met. After two years he moved back to the Hunter Valley and worked for First Creek Wines (2000-07), Pepper Tree Wines (2007-12), and then McWilliams as group winemaker.
The circle complete? Yes and no. In 2000 he and wife Daisy established their eponymous vineyard overlooking Glaziers Bay in Far South Tasmania. In August 2017, McWilliams and Kreglinger/Pipers Brook announced he had been appointed chief winemaker for both groups. While he and Daisy have long term plans for Chatto, Mount Pleasant is also dear to his heart. He has passed the baton to Adrian Sparks, having transformed the approach to the mosaic of its priceless vineyards.
2017 Huon Valley Pinot Noir
An eight-clone block, 15% whole bunches, 8 days cold soak, pressed to French puncheons (24% new) for completion of fermentation and maturation. Has the Chatto trademark perfume in the bouquet, and a long finely drawn palate. The fruit spectrum covers strawberries and a splash of blueberry.
95 Points; to 2027