Only deep experience allows a winemaker to pick by taste alone. Mac Forbes is, like Maggie Harrison of Oregon’s Antica Terra, of this ilk. The point, says Forbes, is not to make perfectly ripe fruit into wine, but to discover how to make that ripe fruit express something of interest. This approach allows him to discover what his particular fruit has to say, rather than forcing it into a particular style.
A Personal Philosophy Manifest
While Mac Forbes pours his greatest efforts into the single vineyard Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, he seems to have limitless energy with experimental projects, a wide range of Rieslings, and a couple entry level bottlings. This basic Yarra Pinot Noir – a blend of the vineyards Coldstream, Woori Yallock, Yarra Junction, Seville, Gruyere and Hoddles Creek vineyards from which Forbes also makes site specific bottlings – is a wonderful introduction to the Mac Forbes philosophy.
The time spent with Dirk Niepoort is palpable in these wines, which focus more on elegance, texture and intrigue than perfect ripeness and pristine structure. This is 10% whole bunch and, as with all Mac Forbes wines, is all indigenous yeast and made oxidatively (which Forbes says makes his wines very oxygen stable). The picking by taste method tends to lead to earlier picking as Forbes is looking for sufficient acidity, but it is also his close attention to viticulture that adds subtlety to the wine. For example, he uses cover crop to keep the soil surfaces cooler than they otherwise would be – helping to keep the intense fruit capable in the Yarra Valley in check so that other interesting flavours and components can express themselves in the final wine.
This is intriguing, thoughtful wine. It also happens to be superb for the price. It is not just good Pinot Noir for $40, but Pinot Noir with character – an anomaly at such an affordable price point.
This is high acid with strawberry, cranberry, sous bois, tiny wild berries, eucalyptus, and iron. Complexity increases with the appropriate air, demonstrating the wine’s comfort with oxygen. While the wine does not have a long finish, it does have significant appeal for its layering of flavour and its mouthfeel. It is uniquely Yarra Valley, and importantly idiosyncratic. Mac Forbes clearly has something to say.
$42 at Bin 905 Calgary
$30 AUD at winery