Lisa Perrotti Brown - 93 pts
Circe is a relatively new project (the first vintage was 2010) by former Mount Langi Ghiran and current Domaine Chandon winemaker Dan Buckle and his partner Aaron Drummond. They currently produce solely Pinot Noir sourced from selected vineyards in Mornington Peninsula. The Hillcrest Road vineyard used for their flagship wine is in the Red Hill ?subregion,” between Paringa Estate and Tuck?s Ridge, and was planted in 1983. The Pinots are produced at Yering Station?s winery in the neighboring Yarra Valley for the time being. 100% whole-bunch is employed on the Hillcrest Road Pinot, though you would know it from the very subtle aromatic profile it instills in the wine. Dan Buckle clearly has a real talent for spotting great vineyards and forging beautifully understated wines. Anyone wanting to sample new-school Aussie Pinots of the highest caliber and indeed understand the potential for great Pinot Noir from Mornington Peninsula should seek out the Circe Hillcrest Road Vineyard Pinot Noir.
During my visit with Dan and Aaron in December 2014 I tasted through every vintage of the Hillcrest Vineyard produced thus far, including a very promising 2014 barrel sample, which I’ll officially review next year once it’s in bottle.Drink 2015 – 2022. 93+ Points
Campbell Mattinson - 95 pts
I asked winemaker Dan Buckle about this wine. He responded with: ?The 2014 Hillcrest Rd Vineyard PN comes from the vineyard we have been farming since 2009 in Red Hill roughly halfway between
Tuck?s Ridge and Paringa as the crow flies. It?s a 1.5 acre block with MV6 planted in 1993. The 2014 yield was approx 0.8 tonnes per acre. We manage the Pinot to one bunch per shoot. It?s 100% whole bunch and foot stomped. Around 20 days total maceration. Roughly 20% new oak all Francois Freres barriques. No racking, fining or filtration.?
It?s made for a stunning wine. Explosively savoury; fundamentally tannic; smoky; more about roots than effects. It?s light but long, just-ripe enough but entirely compelling. Its best days are well ahead of it; it was made to mature. It?s the antithesis of the slam-bam style. 95+ Points
Mike Bennie - 93 pts
From a vineyard planted in 1993 in the Red Hill area of Mornington Peninsula, and a kind of home base for Circe wines. It uses 100% whole bunches in the ferment.
Primal, expressive, untamed – it’s an exhilarating wine for drinking with pause and urgency. Structure is absent in many ways, pepper, spice, dried green herbs, sous bois and earthiness lead a flavour and aroma profile that hums with brooding intent. That being said, fruit, in purest sense, is fleeting with wild forest berry and briary the characters most akin. The wine jags then trims through the palate, shows a mesh of sleek ropes of tannin ending in pucker, is stern and inward. Vin de garde needing time and concentration. Reminds me of Main Ridge in some senses, but there’s uniqueness in personality at play. Worthy intrigue. 93+ Points. Mike Bennie – Winefront
Lisa Perotti Brown - 92 pts
Pale ruby with a hint of purple, the 2012 Hillcrest Road Pinot Noir flaunts a lovely nose of fragrant lavender, red currants and pomegranate with highlights of wild thyme, violets and fertile earth. Light-bodied and very elegant in the mouth, it has a great frame of medium level chewy tannins and balanced acid. It finishes long and earthy. Drink it now to 2018+.
James Halliday - 96 pts
Light, bright, crimson-purple; the fragrant, flowery, red berry bouquet gives little idea of the almost explosive intensity and length of the palate, and of the mouth watering finish rarely encountered with Pinot Noir. This wine will be magnificent in 5 years time. Drink 2022.
Jeremy Pringle - 95 pts
May well be the most accomplished expression of the Hillcrest Vineyard (pictured on the right) that I’ve tasted… although I couldn’t find it in myself to crack a 2012 to taste alongside it. Verticals will come later. More palate weight here and plenty of forest-like, trodden root tones matched to the cherried, berried flavour with a light plum bass line underpinning the wine. Terrific depth of fruit and beguiling fragrance. Whole bunch savouriness seems higher in the mix and the interplay between sweet fruit and savoury herbs comes across as more pronounced – although on the second day they’ve sunk into a rather harmonious whole. Spicy with mild charcuterie characters. A gentle complexing bitterness on the back-palate. Greater emphasis on tannin when it comes to carrying the structural load although the acidity is still bright and the wine fluid. 95 points Jeremy Pringle