2019 Winemaker of the Year Winner!

cover boy Jim Chatto!!

The greatness of a winemaker is measured by their ability and dedication, not to mention phenomenal wines and Jim Chatto has those in spades.

Respected throughout the Australian wine industry for his meticulous approach to winemaking, Jim Chatto is the more-than-deserving 2019 Gourmet Traveller WINE Winemaker of the Year.

Not only does he produce fine pinot noir under his own label Chatto, but he is also the Group Chief Winemaker for McWilliam’s Wines, as well as a long-serving and esteemed wine show judge.

His 26-year career in the wine industry has seen him work in many different regions, making wines diverse in style and price.

Chatto’s winemaking talents and astute palate were apparent early in his career. Though I suspect that his admirable personal traits, in combination with his skill and passion, are what first captured people’s attention.

Hard-working, good-natured and confident, Chatto is regarded for his knowledge, insight and leadership skills, not to mention his tasting expertise.

Chatto’s winemaking career began at Tamburlaine, then First Creek in the Hunter Valley before he headed to Tasmania to work at Rosevears Estate Vineyard in the Tamar Valley. He then returned to First Creek and later moved to Pepper Tree Wines. Chatto took up the position of Chief Winemaker with McWilliam’s in 2013, and in 2017 he had the somewhat formidable, though highly impressive role of Chief Winemaker for McWilliam’s and Kreglinger Estate simultaneously. Chatto took on the Group Winemaker role with McWilliam’s in 2018.

Show judging has been a significant element of Chatto’s career. He rose swiftly through the ranks and has served as the Chair of Judges at the Hunter Valley, McLaren Vale and National Wine shows, and is the current Chief Judge at the Royal Brisbane Wine Show.

One of Chatto’s strengths is he knows how to stand back and let the vineyard speak.

But it is for his winemaking abilities that he is most admired. You need honest winemaking to showcase the essence of a vineyard. If a winemaker oversteps the mark and puts too much of themselves into a wine, the clarity of the vineyard signature becomes blurred. One of Chatto’s strengths is he knows how to let the vineyard speak.

His experience working with historic Mount Pleasant vineyards such as Lovedale, Rosehill, Old Paddock and Old Hill would have left an indelible imprint on his winemaking psyche.

Despite Chatto’s long relationship with the Hunter Valley, his love for Tasmanian pinot began when he worked with Rosevears in the late 1990s, and during a judging stint at the 1999 Tasmanian Wine Show.

So, it is no surprise that Chatto, and his Tasmanian wife Daisy, bought land of their own in the beautiful Huon Valley. It’s a magical spot, not far from the river, framed by neighbouring farms and the raw Australian bush.

Multi-clonal pinot noir plantings began on their land at Glaziers Bay in 2007, and the first release from this vineyard was in 2013 with the 2012 vintage.

Pinot noir is a variety highly reflective of place, but it needs a perceptive winemaker to nurture it from harvest to bottle. Chatto is one such winemaker; his pinots are fine and composed with fragrance, elegance and purity.

From the 2018 vintage they produced three wines: Chatto Isle Vineyard which is made from the best parcels of estate-grown pinot; Chatto Huon Valley Pinot Noir, which is a mix of estate-grown and local Huon Valley fruit; and the Seven Inch Pinot Noir, the inaugural release, which is sourced from a single vineyard located a kilometre from the estate.

Chatto is a benchmark label that adds gravitas to Australia’s pinot noir landscape. The brand’s catch-phrase of ‘Making serious pinot fun’ is highly revealing of the character of the people behind the label: down to earth, affable; refined, but highly personable and approachable.

Jim and Daisy Chatto are genuine small producers, making authentic wines in a new vineyard area while raising a family and juggling multiple work commitments. Though the depth of knowledge and experience behind the wines are phenomenal.

It is a label to watch closely and hunt down; one to add to your cellar, but the wines are scarce as demand is high.

Wines from a tiny vineyard, which will only get harder to find with time. TONI PATERSON MW

FACTS AND FIGURES

REGION  |  Huon Valley, Tasmania

YEARS IN INDUSTRY  |  26

ANNUAL CRUSH |  18 tonnes

STAND-OUT WINES  |  Chatto Isle Pinot Noir

Review 2017 Isle Pinot Noir

Huon Hooke, GT Wine Magazine

December/January 2019

An astonishing wine from vines just ten years old. It’s tremendously intense, powerful and long, with great fleshy texture and drive. Firm tannins add their stamp of authority. Vegetal, whole bushy notes have a hint of fragrant Italian herbs. A very exciting wine

98 Points

James Halliday, The Weekend Australian Magazine November 24-25 2018

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 Isle Pinot Noir

A four-clone block, fermented with 33% whole bunches, matured for 11 months in used French puncheons. It has a striking power, layered and intense, the flavours embracing black cherry, plum and exotic spices, the tannins expertly poised throughout.

97 Points; to 2032

Review 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.

James Halliday

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

Review 2016 Huon Valley Pinot Noir

”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,”

Jim Chatto

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+

Review 2016 Isle Pinot Noir

“There was a time 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.”

-James Halliday

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.

There was a 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.

Review 2016 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

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.

It’s 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.

-Campbell Mattinson

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, it’s spokes of tannin spinning through dry liquorice, sour cherry, musk, crushed dry spices and herbs, it’s ripeness served cool but complete. Sweetness and savouriness share the melting pot. Nothing is mushy and yet everything is in it’s rightful place. It’s 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.

Review 2015 Huon Valley Pinot Noir

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.

Campbell Mattinson

*Campbell Mattinson, The Winefront 17 August 2016

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+ Points; to 2024

*Huon Hooke, huonhooke.com 8 July 2016

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 Points; 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 Points; to 2028

Review 2015 Isle Pinot Noir

2015 Isle Pinot Noir reviews

Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine April/May 2017 ed. pp52-53

Extract from article titled ‘Worth the Wait’ by Nick Stock

“It has poise and grace; drink now with plenty of airing but better from 2018 to 2025.”

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 August 2016

“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.”

Campbell Mattinson

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 August 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 Points; 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 Points;  to 2030

Review 2014 Isle Pinot Noir

Its tiny production – only 50 or so dozen I believe – could easily define it. Instead, its quality does.

Campbell Mattinson

*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.

97 Points; 2016-2030

*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 Points; 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.

95 Points;  2016-2030