.....the red and black fruit palate is as pure, refined and long as everything suggests it should be.
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 Chatto Isle Pinot Noir
Cherry and plum both contribute to the bouquet. The palate is altogether serious, with a remarkable mouthful built around the foundation of precisely calibrated tannins and hints of forest. Great purity and intensity.
98 Points; to 2031
2016 Chatto 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
HuonHooke.com – Huon Hooke 4 September 2017
2016 Isle Pinot Noir
A lightly smoky aroma with black and red cherry nuances beneath. The texture is silky soft and gentle, beautifully balanced. There is sweet fruit in the middle and a delicate but intense and quite firm structure. Plenty of supple, ripe tannins. The balance and texture are what distinguish it. It’s not especially concentrated but certainly a lovely pinot. Like the white label, I suspect it will grow in stature with a little time in bottle. (Jim Chatto rates 2016 his best Tasmanian vintage to date.)
95 Points; to 2022
The Winefront – Campbell Mattinson 28 July 2017.
2016 Isle Pinot Noir
This is the famous Chatto Black Label Pinot Noir, for your eyes only, or Isle Vineyard by it more formal name. It’s in a standard 750ml bottle, of course, stated as 0.75L: so euro. The back label says that its from “a tiny vineyard in far south Tasmania”. It then has the tagline “making serious pinot fun”, which I reckon they could lose, especially given that these Chatto wines are fast becoming established in the very top tier of Australian wine. This will be released on August 1. Expect a stampede.
If this doesn’t mature into a super, super wine then I’m a monkey’s uncle. It’s seriously good gear, built to age. It’s strung tight, its spokes of tannin spinning through dry liquorice, sour cherry, musk, crushed dry spices and herbs, its ripeness served cool but complete. Sweetness and savouriness share the melting pot. Nothing is mushy and yet everything is in its rightful place. Its best drinking years are some ways off but there’s no need for guesswork: everything is clearly laid out and arranged; tasting it now is like observing the mis en place of a master.
96 Points; to 2028+
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+
2015 Chatto Isle Pinot Noir reviews
Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine April/May 2017 ed. pp52-53
Extract from article titled ‘Worth the Wait’ by Nick Stock
This pet project of winemaker Jim Chatto and wife Daisy is up and running and the recently released 2015 vintage wines are another step in terms of momentum. The wines are growing in stature as the vineyard beds itself in and the vines get established. The winemaking approach is thoroughly modern and assertive, a formwork that these wines will grow into over time.
The 2015 Chatto Pinot Noir (A$50) is a tight-wound, modern pinot that has a meaty, reductive edge on first opening. Aromas of charcuterie and toasty oak give way to cinnamon-dusted dark cherry as it unfurls into a complex young pinot with musky, violet-like florals. The palate is built around a central core of neatly woven tannins that guard bright red cherry, holding pure into a gently grainy finish. It has poise and grace; drink now with plenty of airing but better from 2018 to 2025.
The 2015 Chatto Isle Pinot (A$75) is darker in the glass than the regular Chatto pinot and it has a deeper, more resolved nose with dark cherry, plenty of fine baking spices and a gentle peppery edge. The mocha-scented oak has been better subsumed by more assertive pinot fruits. The palate is texturally entrancing, the classic iron-fist-in-velvet-glove style of pinot with sinewy tannins wrapped in plush, bright red and dark cherry flavours rolling up and out of the exhilarating finish. Drink now to 2025 and beyond.
Campbell Mattinson, The Winefront 17/8/16
I listened to Jim Chatto speak on his wines recently and while I was busy tasting through an array of beautiful wines – including all the Chatto pinot noirs so-far released – I jotted down a couple of quotes. These included:
“As time goes on I’m going for gentler and gentler oak.”
“I’m a firm believer that great sites makes old vines, and old vines make great wines, but the great site comes first. Young vines on a great site can still produce wonderful wines.”
“Our Isle pinot is the wine I want to drink. The white label is no less in quality, it’s just made to be safer.”
This is the Chatto Isle Pinot Noir. I don’t think it sees any new oak; could be wrong. This is the second year where both a black label (Isle) and white label (“standard”) Chatto pinot have been produced.
It’s another fantastic release too. It’s absolute cracking. It was served amid a bevy of Burgundy beauties and yet I kept just wanting to come back to this. Cranberries, roses, herbs, five-spices, woodsmoke. Opens exotic and keeps the show going. Length. Juice. Layers of tannin. Kick to the finish. Complete pinot noir. It knows what it wants to be, and eschews distraction. Beautiful.
96 Points; to 2026
*Huon Hooke, huonhooke.com 8/8/2016
This wine has similar aromatics to the Huon Valley label, but with greater intensity, power and penetration. An amazingly powerful bouquet of fragrant herbs, balsamic and distinctive. The concentrated fruit is sweet and luscious, primary and powerful. It’s incredibly long and decadent. Amazing flavour and amplitude; even more opulent than the 2014. (one-third whole bunches; no new oak)
97; to 2030
*James Halliday, Australian Wine Companion, 2017 ed.
Dijon clones 777 (75%) and 115 (25%), hand-picked and sorted, 25% destemmed whole berries, 8 days cold soak, open-fermented, 15 days on skins, pressed to French oak (35% new) at 1˚ baume for 10 months maturation. Deeper colour than their standard Pinot, the bouquet and palate follow suit with darker fruits led by plums, the texture and structure still with the outstanding mouthfeel, balance and length. Tasted in the same month as it was bottled, which makes it unbelievably harmonious, its line and length flawless.
97; to 2030
2015 Chatto Huon Valley Pinot Noir Reviews
*Campbell Mattinson, The Winefront 17/8/16
There are a small band of newish wine producers in Australia who are quietly establishing must-be-on mailer lists. Wineries like Wendouree and Rockford have long held this status but wineries like Clonakilla (not so new), Serrat, Marius and Chatto (among others) are worth getting on, lest you’ll miss out. Chatto’s 2015 pinot noirs have just become available but already there’s not much left of them; indeed the Isle is largely sold out.
This has Chatto Pinot Noir written all over it. I tasted this blind and it stood out, in a good way. It’s dry, savoury and reductive with strings of woody herbs. Beautiful flow. Tension plus. Sweet almost-stewy fruits provide a rush of flavour. It combines elegance and prettiness to form charisma. Lovely.
93+ ; to 2024
*Huon Hooke, huonhooke.com 8/8/16
Medium-full red-purple hue; sweetly fragrant herbal aromas, balsamic, minty. Masses of gorgeous fruit to sniff and taste. Intense, fine, slim and lively in the mouth, but just a trifle bony and disjointed and needs more time. Excellent fruit and aromatics. I feel sure it will deliver with a little more time in bottle.
92; to 2027
*James Halliday, Australian Wine Companion, 2017 ed.
Eight clones, hand picked and sorted, 25% destemmed whole berries. 8 days cold soak, wild open ferment, 15 days on skins, pressed to French oak (24% new) at 1◦ baume for 10 months maturation. Intensely aromatic and flavoured, small red fruits a silken web also catching precisely balanced spices, fine tannins and wholly intergratedoak. A very high quality wine from its bouquet through to the finish, never wavering.
96; to 2028
2014 Chatto Isle Pinot Noir reviews
*Campbell Mattinson, The Winefront 31 July 2015
Its tiny production – only 50 or so dozen I believe – could easily define it. Instead, its quality does.
It lingers for longer. I could go on about cherry this and sourness that, about the interplay between peppers and smoked woody spices – but who could be bothered when the entire thrill of quality here revolves around the wine’s unmissably long, reedy finish? With each sip, the persistence of flavour allows enough time yet for a hundred indecisions, and a hundred visions and revisions – to borrow from J. Alfred Prufrock – before finally slipping away into a past we are desperate to immediately revisit. Call it a poetic wine. Or a sensation. It matters not a great deal anyway.
*James Halliday, Australian Wine Companion, 2016 ed.
The first release of 50 dozen, 60 magnums from the best part of the estate. Clones 777, 115 and 8048, matured for 11 months in 1yo French oak. Bright, full purple-crimson, this is a world apart from the varietal Pinot Noir, more powerful, complex and deep, black cherry and plum driving the palate. Will develop superbly.
96; to 2029
*Huon Hooke, huonhooke.com July 2015
Ranked #3 of 67 2014 Pinot Noir tasted from Australia
Deep, vivid, young purple/red colour. Slightly smoky reductive or toasty oak aromas (or a combination) dominate somewhat at this point. Some burnt tobacco notes. The palate is soft and fleshy, smooth and attractively textured, although toasty oak is playing a big role here. Good length and it really satisfies. It has great structure for aging. So much for Tassie pinot being too fruit-bomby! It’s ready already, however.
2014 Chatto Huon Valley Pinot Noir Reviews
*Philip Rich, The Australian Financial Review Magazine – December ed.
Best wines 2015 – Top 20 – Chatto Huon Valley Pinot Noir 2014
It’s an exciting time for Tasmanian pinot. Jim Chatto, whose day job is chief winemaker at McWilliams in the Hunter Valley, planted his own small 1.5-hectare vineyard in the Huon Valley, South of Hobart, in 2007. Early results suggest the future couldn’t be more promising. Made using a blend of seven clones cropped at a low 5 hectolitres per hectare, this pinot has gorgeous aromas of red fruits, spice and dried herbs. Its medium bodied palate is vibrant, crunchy and long.
*Huon Hooke, huonhooke.com July 2015
Ranked #1 of 67 2014 Pinot Noir tasted from Australia
Medium to deep, bright red/purple colour, with an intense, expressive aroma of blueberry and raspberry, with an overtone of sulfide. It’s intense and refined in the mouth, a deliciously light-bodied but intense fruit-driven pinot of charm and finesse. Real fruit purity and length, with just the right amount of tannin to provide structure which is persuasive but subtle. The sulfide blows off fairly quickly. A gorgeous, aerial, fragrant pinot.
97; to 2029
*James Halliday, Australian Wine Companion, 2016 ed.
The third release….Bright crimson-purple; fragrant cherry and plum blossom aromas foretell a beautifully sculpted, long and fine palate, the fruit having eaten the oak, the tannins a fine filigree.
95; to 2024
* Campbell Mattinson, The Winefront 31 July 2015
Talking of stars of Australian wine: Chatto Wines out of a tiny vineyard in southern Tasmania has to be right up there.
The wine impresses; easily, fluidly, its touch velvety, its heart strong. It’s firm and smoky, reductive and yet beautifully fruited, its notes of herb-strewn cherries touched in equal measure by sourness, smokiness and savouriness. It billows with favour and yet it feels taut throughout; like a spinnaker. In short, its a ripper.
* Max Allen, Weekend Australian September 26-7 2015
Very pretty pinot with bright strawberry and raspberry fruit underscored by savoury flavours of wood smoke and damp humus.
2013 Chatto Pinot Noir Reviews
* Nick Stock, Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine Oct/Nov 2014
It’s a complex, layered and youthful pinot that has plenty of modern reductive meaty character on the nose, clear and toasty oak, darker spices and a wealth of red and dark cherry fruit strapped in below. There’s gentle herbal notes here, too. The palate has clarity and brightness, acidity is a feature, framed in layers of supple yet muscular flesh and ripe, long tannins. But the real joy here is the space created in this wine. It’s very complex with plenty going on, bunt nothing lost in the mix. It speaks of an experienced winemaker who understands the essence of great pinot noir.
* Huon Hooke, huonhooke.com August 2014
Ranked #1 of 23 2013 Pinot Noir tasted from Tasmania
Bright, medium to full red/purple colour, and a meaty, smoky oak bouquet. The wine is bold and fairly straightforward, primary and youthful at this stage, with deliciously bright, deep, cherry fruit flavour dominating the palate. It’s still a baby and will be better in a year or two. It also may respond to decanting. It’s a little oaky right now and improves with airing in the glass.
* James Halliday, Australian Wine Companion, 2015 ed.
***** Winery rating
Has the Dijon clones 777, 114 and 115, and MV6; around 25% whole bunches, an 8 day cold soak, wild yeast fermentation; after 15 days on skins pressed to French puncheons (30% new), the final stages of fermentation completed in barrel, where it remained 11 months. The perfect colour (hue and clarity) is a clue to the bouquet, with bright red fruits to stem and forest notes, the palate is picking up those markers and translating them into a perfectly proportioned and balanced wine; while the primary accent is on varietal fruit there is both a flavour and textural play from the fermentation methods and the oak, together providing silky tannins. 333 dozen made. Screwcap. 13.5% alc.
* Jeremy Pringle, Freelance, July 28 2014
A different expression of the Huon Valley’s Isle Vineyard and one which tops Jim Chatto’s previous release in my opinion.
More body and intensity while leaning further into the savoury, wild spectrum. Exhibits a great deal of complexity. Deep cherry and redcurrant fruits, sarsaparilla root, orange peel and tea-leaf. Some darker briary notes. It’s a substantial Pinot yet agile through its line. Girdled with tannin too, far more so than its predecessor. Stalky, herbal tweaks on a distinguished finish. Impressive with the architecture and balance to see it stand the test of time.
2012 Chatto Pinot Noir Reviews
* Gary Walsh, The Wine Front Nov 7, 2013
A first release from Chatto’s Isle Vineyard, down in the Huon Valley.
Raspberry, spice, minor stalk with subtle cedar oak and violet perfume. Light to medium bodied and pure fruited, built on fine acid rather than tannin – bony structure draped in elegant red fruits is what you might say, if you were fanciful – though the more prosaic would offer clarity, line and prettiness as being the order of the day. Firm, super long finish with a musky aniseed perfume. A wine of delicacy and great charm, brightly lit so as it seems translucent. A gem of a Pinot Noir.
* Jim Chatto’s Pleasant irony
BY: JAMES HALLIDAY From: The Australian May 11, 2013
QUIETLY spoken 40-year-old Jim Chatto is one of the most talented winemakers in Australia.
Whether he is the best of all will come into focus over the next few years following his move to the McWilliam’s group, announced this month. His job there will be multi-layered; he will assume direct responsibility for Mount Pleasant, replacing long-serving winemaker Phil Ryan who is retiring, but he will also cover the group’s winemaking operations elsewhere, notably in the Hilltops region (Barwang), Coonawarra (Brand’s Laira) and Margaret River (Evans & Tate), and the vinous nerve centre at Hanwood in the Riverina.
There is a delicious irony in all this. While at Charles Sturt University he tasted the 1984 Mount Pleasant Lovedale Semillon, and was so smitten that he applied for a junior position at Mount Pleasant at the end of his full-time studies. Having no answer, he joined Tamburlaine instead.
Our paths crossed briefly in the Hunter Valley in 1998 (he was a steward at the Single Bottle Club Dinner that year), but by late 1998 he was in Tasmania as the (only) winemaker at the large, new Rosevears winery. He was also appointed an associate judge at the Tasmanian Wine Show that year (I was a long-time judge at that show).
I was astonished at his accuracy, and when I asked where he’d gained so much experience as a judge, the answer was: “Nowhere, this is the first time.”
He returned to the Hunter Valley in 2000, and has been chief winemaker at Pepper Tree Wines since 2007; in that time he has taken its wines to the highest level. Pepper Tree also has vineyards in Orange, Coonawarra and Wrattonbully, giving him in-depth experience of those regions.
Finally, he and his artistically talented wife Daisy have established a small (1.5ha) pinot noir vineyard at Glaziers Bay in Tasmania, and built a small house. Somewhere down the track it will become home for them and their (now) two small children. Then you will know the greatest pinot noir maker in Australia.
2012 Chatto Pinot Noir
The vines were not planted until 2007, and Chatto believes even better wines are in store with greater vine age. Vivid, crystal clear, purple-crimson; the wine was open-fermented with 25% whole bunches, and then matured in French puncheons (30% new). The bouquet is highly perfumed, and the red and black fruit palate is as pure, refined and long as everything suggests it should be. A pinot lover’s pinot.