2021 Innocent Bystander Central Otago Pinot Noir
May 2023 Selection
This Australian winery sourced these grapes from the superb pinot noir vineyards in New Zealand, used innovative production techniques with minimal intervention to produce a wine that is expressive of its terroir while being both nuanced and complex with vibrant fruit flavors and balanced acidity.
Innocent Bystander is a wine producer in Victoria, Australia. The winery was founded in 2004 by Phil Sexton, a well-known figure in the Australian wine industry. In addition to its vineyards in Victoria's Yarra Valley, Innocent Bystander also sources grapes from other regions in Australia and New Zealand. The winery produces a range of wines, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Moscato.
Innocent Bystander is known for its innovative approach to winemaking and its commitment to producing wines that are expressive of their terroir. The winery's use of minimal intervention techniques, such as wild yeast fermentation and whole bunch pressing, results in wines that are nuanced, complex, and reflective of their origin. Innocent Bystander's wines are also known for their vibrant fruit flavors and balanced acidity, which make them highly drinkable and food-friendly. In 2014 Phil Sexton extended this philosophy across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand adding two new cool-climate regions — Central Otago and Marlborough — to the Innocent Bystander’s portfolio.
The Innocent Bystander winery is committed to sustainable winemaking processes, including using renewable energy, water conservation, composting, recycling and biodynamic farming practices.
The 2021 vintage experienced a cool Central Otago summer, resulting in small berries with excellent concentration and tannins. Winemaker Joel Tilbrook describes the grapes as fresh, fruit-forward and aromatic. Yields in 2021 were above average.
Fruit was sourced from all over Central Otago to achieve perfumed aromatics and the plummy, juicy density typical of this geographic area. During fermentation, 20% of the grapes were left as whole clusters. The fermenters were covered, filled with carbon dioxide and left to cold macerate until fermentation with indigenous yeasts started. After fermentation the wine spent 11 months in 100% French oak barriques (a 59-gallon barrel) and it was bottled without filtration or fining.
The resulting wine is described by Joel thus: “A vibrant bouquet loaded with red and blue fruits, savory spices, and dried flowers. The palate delivers juicy black cherry and wild black berry flavors with an intriguing earthy undertone. The wine has a lovely weight and texture with polished, structured tannins and vibrant natural acidity.”
The smooth texture and long finish of this Pinot Noir makes it a wine that can be enjoyed on its own or paired with a wide variety of dishes. The winery recommends pairing it with mushroom pizza, Jamon Serano, and pasta with duck.
The 2021 Innocent Bystander Central Otago Pinot Noir should cellar well till 2026.