Murdoch Hill Phaeton Pinot Noir 2020 (Adelaide Hills, South Australia) "herbal, sweet cherry, wood smoke.."
The Phaeton is a blend of fruit from two vineyards in the Piccadilly Valley. The first site lies at 520 meters altitude outside the town of Piccadilly below Mount Lofty. Its easterly aspect provides Downer with delicate, fine fruit with pretty aromatics and pure, red-fruited notes. The second vineyard, also with an easterly aspect but in Ashton, sits on a steep slope at 560 meters on rather shallow sandstone and hard soils. Natural yields are extremely low, providing fruit with structure and persistence. The altitude and aspect of both sites provide Pinot-friendly, elongated ripening conditions.
Downer handled each parcel separately, both with a portion of whole berries and whole bunches (30%). The wine was raised in mostly French oak puncheons and barrique (approximately 10% new) for nine months, then bottled without fining or filtration.
Where the 2019 was a deeply fruited, enveloping expression of Downer's vineyards, the 2020 brings supple texture and elegance to the fore. The aromas are pure and lifted with scents of ripe cherry, warmed earth and strawberry sherbet. It then turns a shade darker, as black cherry, plum and charcuterie glides serenely across the palate. A gently creamy mouth-feel is woven with energy. With each passing vintage, Michael Downer's Pinots become more sophisticated and expressive.
"All the woody herbal and spice elements of the region and variety, with a unique nub of lifted fragrance and sweet cherry right in the core of the palate, in a style that has developed over the years with a waft of wood smoke. All of this makes for a mighty fine expression." 95 points, Tony Love, Halliday Wine Companion