Bass Phillip’s 2020 vintage is one of transition, being the final vintage of previous owner Phillip Jones who managed the vineyards and winery until the end of harvest before handing over the reins to legendary Burgundy producer Jean-Marie Fourrier and his team, for the elevage and blending.
The growing season was bookended by slightly cooler than average temperatures resulting in wines with great natural acidity. The fruit showed intensity and length, from below average yields. The approach of Jean-Marie and the new team at Bass Phillip has always been that this should be an evolution, not a revolution. Which is how the 2020 vintage should be anticipated, with a focus on precision, generosity and honoring mother nature. You could say the 2020 vintage is a collaboration of new world and old world, North and South and it will be fantastic to see how the wines continue to evolve.
The wines of Bass Phillip are endowed with vibrant fruit and considerable delicacy, and evolve and develop dramatically with aeration in a swirling glass or decent decanting. They are never excessive in tannins or alcohol in their youth, and with age, they blossom gracefully to develop an intensity of flavour in the finish framed by strong minerality and natural acidity. Countless tales vouch for how Bass Phillip Pinot Noirs improve in the cellar, sometimes for well over twenty years.
Drinking an aged Bass Phillip pinot is a transcendental experience a dedicated wine lover must experience to fathom just how special these wines are. Immense, soil driven complexity, deliciousness and seemingly endless ageability are compelling reasons why many Pinot connoisseurs consider them legends.
The three wines at the top of the Bass Phillip hierarchy — the Estate, Premium and Reserve Pinot Noirs — have always come from the same original 1979 main vineyard in Leongatha: a 3.5-hectare block, known as the Estate vineyard. Within this vineyard the same rows of vines and sub-plots are used for each of these wines every year, purely because those vines give the best grapes, year after year.
Bass Phillip’s first Pinot Noir was made in 1984, and the first commercial release, comprising the 1985 to 1989 vintages, took place in 1991. The 1989 vintage was the first in which the Reserve, Premium and Estate Pinot Noirs were separately vinified, following five years’ worth of research into the separate vattings, which involved numerous small-batch fermentation trials.