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Bass Phillip

There is no more highly revered and sought-after maker of Pinot Noir in Australia than Bass Phillip, Phillip Jones' small vineyard south of Leongatha.  Planted in 1979, the first wines were produced in 1984 and the first vintages released for sale in 1991.  Phillip, an engineer by trade, describes himself as a 'problem solver', and he loves nothing more than finding a solution to an issue or difficulty. temporary.jpg

Notwithstanding the fact that Bass Phillip was initially developed as a Bordeaux varietal vineyard, planted to the same proportions as Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou (Phillip's inspiration, following a visit there in the mid 1970s), it rapidly became evident that Pinot Noir was the best-suited variety to the soils and climate.

There are not many secrets to Bass Phillip's success.  Low yields from close-planted vines in vigorous soils.  Small bunch sizes and tiny berries occur naturally.  Minimal sulphur is added during winemaking and bottling, and the only other additive is a cultivated yeast to induce malolactic fermentations (due to the prevalent natural dairy yeasts in the area that give dirty malos).  Phillip is a passionate believer in organics and biodynamics, but again on his, practical terms.  He has found over four decades that herbicides are a necessity here - both viticultural and financially - so that's the one concession he allows.  

Like Phillip himself, Bass Phillip's wines are idiosyncratic and march to their own beat.  They can be powerful, they can be light and elegant.  They're always very concentrated and packing incredible minerality to them, which is one of the primary hallmarks of quality in Pinot Noir to Phillip's mind.  Whether or not they're the greatest expressions of Pinot Noir made in Australia is entirely for each drinker to judge for themselves, but there's no doubting their character and unique qualities.  And when they're great, they are sublime.

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