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Add Whisson Lake to the Adelaide Hills hot list, their 2012 pinots from a stunning elevated hillside site are entrancing, especially the pair of Monopole releases. Exciting times ahead.

– Nick Stock, Australian Gourmet Traveller WINE

Wine Reviews & Scores

Winery Review

A toast to Whisson Lake: pinot noir that's up there with Australia's finest

By Max Allen, The Australian Financial Review

The first time I visited Whisson Lake vineyard in the Adelaide Hills, in 2010, the energetic young bloke who was winemaker at the time, Tom Munro, insisted we walk to the top of the hill to look at the view before tasting any wines.


It almost killed me, that walk. I'm not the fittest of men and Whisson Lake is one of the steepest vineyard sites in the country. The vine rows shoot up to 615 metres above sea level on a slope that owner Mark Whisson describes as "mostly bloody steep – with some bits that are extremely steep".


The huffing and puffing was worth it, though. The view over the Piccadilly Valley from that highest planting in the Hills was stunning. I could see why Whisson decided this would be a good place to grow pinot noir when, against the prevailing viticultural wisdom of the time, he planted the first vines there back in the mid-1980s. There's something special about this site.


Tasting through the barrels at the winery, once I'd got my breath back, it was clear that Munro was capturing the specialness of the terroir, too. The wines – ranging from a pale copper-coloured Gris de Noir made from the clear juice of pinot noir to an intensely flavoured but fine pinot called Monopole, made from fruit grown on four rows of vines in the middle of the hill – were just as stunning.


I raved about the wines at the time, describing them as among the best pinots I'd tasted from the Adelaide Hills, and predicted that Whisson Lake would become one of the most revered pinot producers in Australia.


And they are still as good as I remember from the last time I tasted them. The two Monopole pinots in particular – one called Old Garden, from a block of vines in the lower, warmer half of the vineyard, the other called Pink Rows, from vines on the higher, cooler section – should be on every serious pinot lover's shopping list.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Whisson Lake is a great pinot noir vineyard that deserves to be ranked alongside the best in the country.


Wine Reviews

Monopole 'The Pink Rows' Pinot Noir reviews

2012 vintage

"This is my favourite of the two Monopole, single-site pinots from Whisson Lake. Where the Old Garden is seductively fleshy and round, the Pink Rows is finer, more intense, more wild-fruited and hedgerow savoury, with long, lingering tannins. The kind of pinot you know will mature gracefully in the cellar."

— Max Allen, The Australian Financial Review, July 2018. Read the full review.

Le Gris de Noir reviews​

2011 vintage: Rated 93 points

“Well here’s an interesting wine. Pinot Noir that’s not white, rosé or red – pressed and then straight into barrel … Light bodied, subtle silky glycerol feel and then the acid core of a bright early picked Chardonnay – very gentle fine chalkiness – and a creamy yet zesty finish of excellent length. Curious, but really good. Close your eyes and let your senses run free while tasting.”

— Gary Walsh, The Wine Front, February 2014. Read the full review.


2010 vintage

“The wine that blows me away is Whisson Lake's Le Gris de Noir: made only from the pale juice of pinot noir grapes, pressed off the skins and barrel-fermented, this faint copper-coloured liquid combines extraordinary delicacy and subtle floral perfume with gorgeously seductive creaminess and liveliness on the tongue. Sure, it's a hefty price tag for what you could argue is just a pale, dry rose, but I think the quality and complexity of the wine justifies the dollars. Indeed, based on these 2010 wines, I'd say Whisson Lake deserves a place among regional pinot noir stars such as Ashton Hills and national pinot heroes such as Bindi or Bannockburn.”
— Max Allen, The Weekend Australian, August 2011. Read the full review.

2010 vintage

“Although Whisson Lake is a mature (26-year-old) vineyard and a familiar label for Adelaide pinot-lovers, the pale copper-coloured 2010 Le Gris de Noir is an exciting new addition to the range … made from just six rows of shaded hillside vines, it’s an incredibly dry but incredibly complex, perfumed and creamy wine, one of the best wines I tried all year.”
— Max Allen, Australian Gourmet Traveller, December 2011.

White Label Pinot Noir reviews

2018 vintage: Rated 95 points

"Fancy Pinot Noir from an excellent if not idiosyncratic wine producer. This rolls with raspberry, truffle and twiggy-brambly scents and flavours, spreads beautifully in the palate on silky ribbons of tannin, finishes pleasingly bitter and dusty. The fruit character is complex and winemaking seasoning is judicious. A refined, charismatic expression."

— Mike Bennie, Wine Business Magazine, March/April 2021.

2014 vintage: Rated 94 points

"Loads of perfume, almost pot pourri-like in its scents, dried rose petals, sandalwood, exotic spice, dried and fresh red berries. The palate is a sluice of juicy fruit flavours, peppery spice, gummy tannins and sappy acidity. It's lovely in its flourish across the palate, succulent and long, opulent but without weight, a velvet presence and then light chew. Really quite something."

— Mike Bennie, The Wine Front, May 2017.

2012 vintage

"It's six years old but this pinot is still incredibly youthful, with pure, focused red berry fruit, a tangy liveliness on the tongue and fine, almost ethereal tannins. Quite charming and beautiful. I also tasted the 2014, due out early next year. From a warmer, lower-yielding vintage, it's a bolder pinot, with more fruit density and tannic grip, but still charming."

— Max Allen, The Australian Financial Review, July 2018. Read the full review.

2012 vintage: Rated 94 points

“It’s light-bodied with particularly attractive acidity – pure and unforced in feel – very fine slatey tannin and gentle warmth and sweetness of strawberries mixing it up with mineral, sausage and spice. Charming. I suspect it will be best drinking over the next six years, though no problem holding it for longer.”
— Gary Walsh, The Wine Front, June 2014. Read the full review.


2012 vintage

“Whisson Lake is a quiet achiever in the Adelaide Hills and the winemaking team values a “less is more” approach. This is an expressive, almost loose-knit Pinot Noir with earthy, stone-and-briary-fruit perfumes, but feels juicy, slinky and long through the palate. The trim line of chalky tannins bodes well for some cellaring. I’d wager that when this wine mellows and becomes suppler with time it’ll be charmingly smooth.”
— Mike Bennie, Australian Gourmet Traveller WINE, 2012.

2011 vintage: Rated 94 points

“Surprise package from this vintage. It’s light and shows some wet/cool vintage spiciness, yet the fruit is pure and there’s fine graphite tannin lending it an almost silky feel … an articulate wine of finesse and gentle charm, and lovely to drink. Strange thing to say, but it feels like a wine that does not want to be scored. Anyway, somewhere around 93 or 94, to put a number on it.”
– Gary Walsh, The Wine Front, January 2014. Read the full review.

Black Label Pinot Noir reviews

2019 vintage

“Andrie Whisson tells me their Black Label pinot noir is made from their 'young vines', at just 26-years-old. From a parcel on the warmer, lower slopes, it is picked earlier to retain natural acidity and crunch. The wine's ethereal complexity is the result of wild fermentation and 10% whole clusters, with a restrained use of sulphur so as not to diminish the wine's vibrant tension and energy.”
– Sophie Otton Australian Gourmet Traveller WINE, August 2021

La Storia Rosa Pinot Noir reviews


2011 vintage: Rated 91 points

"Light bodied, fresh and spicy, all red fruits and tangy acidity with a surprisingly silky tannin structure. Perky cool vintage character on the finish, but no astringency or rotten flavours.”
— Gary Walsh, The Wine Front, February 2014. Read the full review.

Whisson Lake Pinotgaz reviews

2006 vintage

"A pallet of this wine somehow managed to get lost for a few years in the cellar before being discovered and re-released. Mark Whisson says he made it in an early-drinking style, but it still tastes really good 12 years on, with plenty of spicy, tangy, undergrowthy flavours. Crying out for mushroom risotto. Good value for a mature, bottle-aged pinot."

— Max Allen, The Australian Financial Review, July 2018. Read the full review.

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