Bannockburn Vineyards: “At its best..."

The New Serré and De La Terre Pinot Noir, plus S.R.H. and Grigsby Chardonnay
Bannockburn Vineyards: “At its best..."
To be clear, Campbell’s quote in the title refers to the 2022 Serré Pinot Noir. But this is a release strewn with stardust. It’s been three years since Bannockburn released a full suite of premium wines. During this time, Bannockburn’s star has risen and risen.

Since the first vines were planted in 1974 by Stuart Hooper, Bannockburn has had its fair share of visionaries at the helm. Matt Holmes may be standing on the shoulders of giants and yet, since his arrival, he has methodically found a way to unleash the full potential of this already iconic vineyard and its distinctive volcanic soils. Bannockburn’s Chardonnays, already among Victoria’s finest, have never tasted better, while the reinvention of its Pinot Noir has been a revelation. I guess it is true what they say—you've got to watch out for the quiet ones.

Vintage 2022 yielded good crops of excellent fruit at Bannockburn and allowed Holmes a degree of winemaking freedom he had not been afforded in the previous two years. Such conditions are a golden scoring opportunity for any winemaker and Holmes has, to extend the metaphor, put his laces through the ball. Benign conditions allowed the Chardonnay to harness more power than in 2021, while cool nights contributed to beautifully chiselled focus and tensile structure. Burgundy growers might bite your arm off for seasons like this. The return of the Serré and De La Terre Pinots has not come too soon, and Holmes’s ‘22 Pinots are off the scale. Campbell Mattinson is correct; this is Bannockburn at its best, which means Victoria at its best. And so on and so forth…

The Wines

Bannockburn Grigsby Chardonnay 2022
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Bannockburn Grigsby Chardonnay 2022

Certified organic. Lucas Grigsby is a Bannockburn legend. He has been the viticultural manager for the last 35 years and knows these vineyards like nobody ever has or likely ever will. The Grigsby is a single-vineyard, organic-certified wine, sourced from close-planted vines that were grafted over from Shiraz in 2018. The clone is Bernard 76, and the block is planted to 1.2-metre rows with 1-metre vine spacing, on a north-south row orientation.
The soils comprise dark cracking clay over weathered basalt and limestone. Grigsby and Holmes introduced the Bernard clone to Bannockburn to expand the vineyard’s clonal palette, which, in the beginning, was mostly Penfolds clones. Holmes does not dwell on the contrast, but he does notice a certain chalky tension in the Grigsby Chardonnay compared to the more voluminous fruit of the S.R.H.
The fruit was pressed as whole bunches and settled overnight before being racked to hogsheads (25% new) for fermentation and malolactic conversion (70%). The wine matured for 10 months on lees with no stirring. The 2022 is a wine of great presence, energy and drive. Huon and Ned call it well.

“Light-medium yellow colour with a rich and toasty/oaky bouquet that enshrines nougat, roasted hazelnuts and creamy lees derived facets. A very complex chardonnay, full and rich and generous in the mouth with a long-lasting aftertaste. A ripping chardonnay.”
96 points, Huon Hooke, The Real Review
“A high density planting, certified organic. Palate-staining intensity of flavor. Riveting scents of nuts and nectarines, with crystalline acidity to mineral pungency, glittering across the tightly furled palate like glycerine diamonds. This is a gorgeous wine of spellbinding complexity in waiting, just palpable already, but held in an embryonic state of tension. This will age exceptionally well. Drink or hold, but better after 2026. Screw cap.”
95 points, Ned Goodwin MW, jamessuckling.com
"This is rich. If chardonnay flavour is your desire, then come hither. It offers a liberal serve of grilled peach flavour, with nectarine, citrus, sweet spice and cedarwood oak, and then layers custard powder characters through the aftertaste. It’s an excellent, well-tailored rendition of the fuller chardonnay style. Importantly it runs fresh and lengthy to close, with hints of reductive character there too, which is a bonus."
95 points, Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front
Bannockburn Grigsby Chardonnay 2022
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Bannockburn De La Terre Pinot Noir 2022
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Bannockburn De La Terre Pinot Noir 2022

Certified organic. De La Terre is a beautiful sloping vineyard that was planted in 2007 at 10,000 vines per hectare. Still quite rare in an Australian setting, the planting density results in very low natural yields of, typically, 500 grams or less per vine (i.e. Burgundy Grand Cru levels). De La Terre lies beside the Serré vineyard, although it sits on the slope, whereas Serré is on a small plateau directly above. Despite this proximity, the wines are surprisingly different; De La Terre giving an inkier, wilder and spicier expression of Pinot than Serré. Along with the slope, the clonal selection (777), and north-south row orientation (rather than the east-west of Serré) contribute to the difference in character.

Though penned in 2012, James Halliday’s “reminiscent of a young DRC,” remark remains a ringing endorsement for this close-planted site. After its brief hiatus, the 2022 serves as a wonderful reminder of the heights this site can scale. The fruit fermented with 100% whole bunches for 10 days before the juice was removed from its stems. The wine then matured in hogsheads (25% new). Savoury and pretty, it’s a seamless and complex release with satiny texture and lingering presence.

“Cardamon, red cherry, tamarind, blood orange, dill and a drape of Indian spice across the mid-palate. Sure, the whole-bunch piquancy is evident, but the integration of extract, optimal fruit ripeness and bunch is rewarding and ultimately delicious after some some air, boding well for mid-term aging. So fragrant, unusual and exotic of appeal. Gently mid-weighted. The finish, a long succulent weld with rivets of green. Drink or hold. Screw cap.”
94 points, Ned Goodwin MW, jamessuckling.com
"Pinot noir to its back teeth, in the best of ways. So complex, so earthen, so strewn with undergrowth and herbs, but simultaneously lively with fruit, or enough so. Glossy oak, sweet-sour cherries and all those complexing elements lead to a sustained, expansive finish. Yes. Excellent."
94+ points, Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front
"The 2022 De La Terre Pinot Noir is earthy and spicy on the nose, with pastrami, freshly turned earth, green olive/caper brine, dried herbs and pastrami. This is altogether more savory than the Serré from the same vintage tasted beside it. This is made from clones 777 and 114, planted in 2007. The structure in the mouth has a definite woodsy vibe—sandalwood, and malt even. 13% alcohol, sealed under screw cap."
93 points, Erin Larkin, The Wine Advocate
Bannockburn De La Terre Pinot Noir 2022
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"This is a gorgeous wine of spellbinding complexity in waiting. 95 points.” Ned Goodwin MW on Grigsby



"...the integration of extract, optimal fruit ripeness and bunch is rewarding and ultimately delicious... So fragrant, unusual and exotic of appeal. 94 points.” Ned Goodwin MW on De La Terre

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