Creator and owner of a cult brand, Tod Dexter insists he didn’t set out to reinvent Pinot Noir but has deliberately limited his production to ensure quality is paramount.
At Stonier then Yabby Lake and more recently with his own brand, Tod’s Pinots have being acclaimed amongst the region’s best reds. On a brilliant winter’s morning we met the creator of Dexter Wines first in his vineyard and then around his kitchen table to taste the 2013 vintage.
Tod hasn’t changed much in a decade since we worked together at Stonier Wines. He has retained his boyish zest and mop of hair. What has changed is his outlook. Originally he worked with Pinot Noir at a time when the variety was coming into fashion. Today, it's better understood with good examples found across the region. Tod’s are right up there. Perfumed and savoury, his signature is a soft touch and seamless complexity.
Looking over the property, it’s apparent the 30-year-old Balnarring North vineyard was planted with a lot of thought. It’s on a gentle northern slope, with neatly spaced, VSP trellised rows that even in bountiful years, rarely exceed two-tonne per acre.
With only a small vineyard, Dexter can afford to take a perfectionist approach, such as removing uneven clusters to encourage consistent ripening. In the winery, he experiments constantly. He uses winemaking weapons such as cold soak fermentation and new oak astutely.
After the tasting, the group declares the 2013 a standout wine. A keen Pinot Noir fan, group leader, Nigel has followed Dexter from Stonier to Yabby Lake and now with his own label. During our tasting, Tod poured a lovely 2009 Dexter wine. The contrast was fascinating with the fresher vintage having more impact and just shaving the benchmark wine made five years earlier. ‘2013, was a superb year.’ Tod adds, ‘I’ve shown this wine to seasoned restaurateurs who have just loved it.’
The group was also very excited by the delicate, perfumed, slightly gamey nose, velvety texture and considerable spice and concentration. Simply, a delicious, well balanced and perfect wine to go with a slice of Red Hill Merrick’s Mist cheese.
By the end of the tasting, we had managed to drink the entire bottle. Little wonder we ordered four cases before loading up the Viano for the next adventure.