The Little Penguin Pinot Noir

The Little Penguin Pinot NoirWhen you reckon of wine from Australia you probably reckon of Shiraz first, as well you should.  Shiraz is Australia’s most planted variety, and it ranks second to France in shiraz/syrah in vines below cultivation.  But I’d be willing to bet that when Australian wine gets mentioned, the last varietal that you reckon of is pinot noir.  I mean, when was the last time you had a pinot noir from Australia?
The challenge of growing pinot outside of Burgundy has been well published, and Australia is no exception.  The southern parts of the country are very well suited to hardier varieties, such as cabernet sauvignon and the aforementioned shiraz, that aren’t as picky about climatic conditions as pinot is.  But Aussie wine-makers are becoming a small more adventurous with this variety, particularly in the cooler, southern parts of Victoria, like Yarra Valley and Mornington Penninsula.
But The Small Penguin is not sourcing their pinot grapes from these regions.  You have to head a small west from Victoria to the state of South Australia to locate their plantings.  The real estate there may not be as prestigious as in southern Victoria, but the conditions are similar, and I’m sure the lower rent helps The Small Penguin keep such an attractive fee.  We’ve reviewed their 2006 offering, and while we weren’t that enamored with the 2006, the 2010 vintage came recommended by one of the trusted wine shops I frequent. Read more

Little Penguin Pinot Noir – Waddle On…

Little Penguin Pinot Noir – Waddle On…My Quest for Excellent Cheap Pinot Noir continues with a cheapy from South Eastern Australia produced by the Small Penguin.  This Penguin has a nice fruity center, but a small bit of funk at both ends.  <pause for a visual>
OK… should I clarify that, or let your imagination do the work?  I’ll clarify.
The Excellent
the Small Penguin Pinot Noir 2006 has a nice, fruity palate.  Strawberry, blueberry and currant make it nearly a fruit bomb.  There is also a hint of spice, but it falls small.  I would have liked a bit more spice.  It also has a nice velvety mouth feel.
The Funk
The nose is a bit of a turn off.  I can only describe it as a combination of sweaty socks and strawberries.  I was nearly worried to taste it after my first wiff.  (This is the point where if I were Gary Vaynerchuk I would stuff a sweaty sock into my mouth to prove that I know be with you sweaty socks… but trust me, I know this smell.) 
That is part of the funk, but I did say “funk at both ends.”  One being the nose, the additional end being the end where the Small Penguin left me with a touch of a metallic aftertaste. 
While there were some funk-a-delics to this Pinot Noir, it only cost about $6.  Not terrible.  And if you expect a $6 Pinot to really kick ass you’re going to be disappointed.  I didn’t dump this bottle, but it wasn’t awesome either.  I gave it an 80.  Give it a few minutes to open up and you’ll delight in it a lot more.  But I would recommend you waddle past this one, and try something else.
Wine: the Small Penguin
Varietal: Pinot Noir
Alcohol: 13.5% 
Rating: 80

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