Two-Blocks Pinot Noir: PINOT IS BACK!



Two-Blocks Pinot Noir is a savoury, intriguing and elegant wine from the up-and-coming winemaking region of Mount Gambier - one of the newest named regions in Australia.

Winemaker Luke Tocaciu searched outside of our family-owned vineyards to find the perfect Pinot Noir grapes, as the variety is not suited to growing in Coonawarra or Wrattonbully. After a number of years of creating excellent Pinot with fruit purchased from his high school principal, he had planned on discontinuing Pinot to focus on the Patrick-owned vineyards.

However after tasting the 2019 vintage at the winery, he decided to release one last limited release batch. 

Luke says, “We’ve had the Pinot Noir in the estate range since 2008 but I didn’t release it every year. 2019 was the last harvest of Pinot I made. I had a taste from the barrel and it was too good to not release.”

Our Estate Pinot Noir was Luke’s first winemaking project when he first came back to the family business, while Pat was working with more traditional varieties  such as Cabernet, Shiraz and Riesling. Pinot was Patrick of Coonawarra’s original project wine, allowing Luke to explore wherever his interest in winemaking took him; an approach which now continues with the Méthode range and the innovative creative direction of Patrick of Coonawarra.

Luke says, “Most winemakers love Pinot Noir. It’s very much a winemakers’ wine, where you get to play around a lot. I like to make small batches and see how they turn out. It’s a fun way of making wine. That's the luxury of being the winemaker and owner of a small business, I get to do what I want in the winery.”

In the spirit of wine trials and small batch releases, and after being sold out of Pinot for the past two years, with no immediate plans to repeat it, Luke invites you to enjoy this delightful limited release from Mount Gambier.


Mount Gambier harvest

Two-Blocks Pinot Noir is the only wine which uses fruit from a vineyard that is not owned by Patrick of Coonawarra. Luke explains,

“Pinot Noir doesn't grow that well in Coonawarra, as it is a bit too warm for the Pinot styles that we're after. So I had to look outside of our region. Mount Gambier is only half an hour south but is quite a different growing region where Pinot Noir excels.”

Patrick of Coonawarra has been buying Pinot from Mount Gambier since 2008, working with one particular Mount Gambier grower since 2010 - Terry Strickland, who was Luke’s high school principal.

Luke says, “I've been working with Terry since 2010, the first vintage we bought . He used to be my school principal when I was in high school, so we had a connection right from when I was growing up.

Terry had a little vineyard at the high school where we used to do practical experiments with the fruit. Growing grapes was his passion outside of being a principal, and he has retired into that now. It's great to come full circle and still have that relationship with him, although now he comes and sits in my office, instead of the other way around.”

Photo — Blue Lake, Mount Gambier | Credit — Ockert le Roux Photography

Mount Gambier vs Coonawarra wine region

Mount Gambier is a very different wine growing region to Coonawarra, although only 50km south. Mount Gambier is quite a cold region, and being close to the coast it has more coastal influence than Coonawarra. The ocean acts as a heat bank and moderates the temperature, so it doesn't get as warm or as cold, creating even temperatures during the growing season. However it does get some wet soggy days, therefore as we approach the  end of vintage, making the right decisions about picking is crucial.

Mount Gambier is too far south to ripen Cabernet, but excellent for Pinot Noir. Coonawarra is about the furthest south you can ripen Cabernet, with warmer days and cooler nights that extend the growing season. 

Historically, Mount Gambier has grown a lot of Pinot Noir, but has only been known for making Pinot over the last 15 years. It is now starting to develop a great  reputation for cool climate wines.

Two-Blocks Pinot Noir label

The label design displays an illustration of the dormant Mount Gambier volcano, which the town is built around. The volcano crater is now a brilliantly blue lake and an iconic symbol of Mount Gambier. The soil around Mount Gambier is a rich volcanic soil over a limestone base, and fertile growing land for vineyards.

Two blocks in the Two-Blocks Pinot

The ‘two blocks’ in Two-Blocks Pinot Noir refers to two different clones of Pinot from two blocks within the same vineyard. A clone is the same variety, but with unique growing characteristics. Vines will look and behave differently from one clone to the next. Selection of cloning material over hundreds of years have created different styles of Pinot. The clones that we use were originally selected from France and brought out to Australia.

The first clone in the vineyard is D5V12, which stands for vine number 12. The trains in the vineyard are upright, crop a little higher and have quite a lot of fruit across the canopy, which gives good volume, but quite a light style of wine. D5V12 is often grown more for sparkling bases. The other clone in the vineyard is MV6, which is more of a traditional, dry red Pinot style of wine. MV6 has quite an arched canopy, which lays down a lot and covers a lot of the fruit, and is a little later to ripening.

The fruit from these two clones gives us two different elements that go into the Two-Blocks Pinot, with tannins and spice from the MV6 and floral richness and light-bodied character from the D5V12.


Read more about the limited edition Two-Blocks Pinot Noir in Part 2 of our blog post here, and purchase here