More Than Cabernet From Moss Wood – Reviews of Moss Wood 2021 Chardonnay, Moss Wood 2020 Pinot Noir, Moss Wood 2022 Semillon – Ray Jordan wine review, Business News
More than cabernet from Moss Wood
Moss Wood’s versatility is on full display with three wines from its 2020 crop.
“The 2020 vintage was one of the smallest on record but the fruit that did come off the old vines was generous and beautifully flavoured.
Moss Wood cabernet sauvignon is among the most anticipated wine releases each year.
Almost from Bill Pannell’s first wines in the 1970s it has been a major talking point among wine lovers.
For nearly 50 years it has risen to the very highest levels of Australian red wine, with current winemaker and owner Keith Mugford continuing to take it into the rarefied air shared by Australia’s greatest wines.
Having said that, this is not a column about the Moss Wood cabernet. For the record, the latest wine, the 2019, is another stellar red and one I have scored at 98 points.
This edition I am writing about three other wines that don’t get the kudos of the cabernet: the pinot noir, chardonnay and semillon.
Let’s start with the chardonnay. After hand-picking and hand sorting before fermentation, Mr Mugford as always sticks with the cultured yeasts rather than going down the wild yeast approach.
The wine then went through malolactic fermentation, with about half the oak new French. The malo has really brought the wine together, delivering richness and texture while retaining its fine acid line through to the finish.
Pinot noir is a variety not generally associated with Margaret River. Sure, there are some like Moss Wood that have been making it for many years, but most winemakers have gone south to the Great Southern, Manjimup and Pemberton for this variety.
There have been some great Moss Wood pinots over the years; in some years they are exceptional.
The 2020 vintage was one of the smallest on record but the fruit that did come off the old vines was generous and beautifully flavoured. A feature of this wine is its plush mouth feel that seems to be the result of this cooler, small-volume season.
Before the 2020 vintage, the previous lowest-yielding season on record at Moss Wood was 1981, which produced the legendary pinot noir still revered and spoken of in hushed tones.
Finally, the semillon. Year in and year out, this has been one of my favourites and shows the incredible versatility of the region.
As always, the 2022 was made without the use of oak (it simply doesn’t need it). But this year there was a significant change in the winery that seems to have had an impact. Initially it followed the usual hand-picking, hand sorting and whole-bunch pressing, after which a new approach was introduced to save energy.
“In the past, the pressed juice was clarified using cold settling, a process that uses enormous amounts of energy to chill the juice down and hold it at ten degrees Celcius for several days,” Mr Mugford told Business News.
“For 2022 we introduced flotation, where the solids are floated to the surface and the clear juice taken from underneath. The juice is held at eighteen degrees and clarified in a few hours. The energy and time savings are huge, not to mention the juice proceeds quickly into primary fermentation, reducing the risk of oxidation.”
The result is a cracking good wine.
Moss Wood 2021 Chardonnay
Everything about this wine points to it being one of the best chardonnays yet from Moss Wood. Opens with a creamy, nutty and slightly savoury aroma. It’s a nose that continues to reveal more each time you get into it. The palate is the real feature, however. It has the power and deep intensity of this small vintage but presents with an elegant finesse. And it is so long and persistent.
Cellar: 10 years
Moss Wood 2020 Pinot Noir
The small, intense vintage of 2020 has suited this variety from Moss Wood. Marvellous opening on the nose with a mix of cherry and rhubarb flicked with a little spice and underpinned by deeper meaty characters. The palate retains that linear chalky acidity but wrapped around the spine is the seductively warm flesh of the vintage. Supremely well balanced and a very long palate.
Cellar: 13 years
Moss wood 2022 Semillon
You hear quite a lot about Moss Wood’s great cabernets and chardonnay, and as a result this little guy can slip under the radar. But it remains one of my favourite wines in the Moss Wood portfolio. And it shows how good semillon can be in Margs. This has got some weight, but it’s held with control by the dab hand of a lemon citrus acid tang. Very long finish. One of the best I can recall.
Cellar: 10 years
Printed on Business News, October 3rd, 2022