Riposte Pinot Noir – Vertical Tasting Review* By Lester Jesberg Of Winewise

*This vertical tasting includes museum release and pre-release vintages not available for sale commercially. Current vintages available for sale are: 2016 Sabre Pinot Noir and 2016 Reserve Pinot Noir.

Tim Knappstein’s care in sourcing fruit has led to pinot noirs that rank with the very best from the region. This tasting clearly demonstrates that Riposte Pinot Noir, from the better vintages, ages gracefully, which makes them outstanding value for money. The 2016 Reserve stands comparison with Australia’s best, making it a good buy at the $80.00 price tag.

Tim Knappstein began his career in Clare, and over the decades, built a formidable reputation as a winemaker and wine judge. In 1995 he sold his wine business in the Clare Valley to focus on the Adelaide Hills to pursue his great love of pinot noir. The Riposte brand is the result of Tim’s commitment to the Hills, and he now produces a range of wines, the pride and joy of which is pinot noir.

Clare’s loss was a significant gain for the Adelaide Hills, particularly when it comes to Tim’s expertise with pinot noir. He points out that the Adelaide Hills, when it comes to red wine, is essentially a shiraz region, and that only the coolest sites have a hope of producing high quality pinot noir.

Tim sent us a “vertical” of the pinot noirs, and we sat down to taste them with great expectations. Here’s the outcome.

2009 Riposte The Sabre Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir Still holds its colour well. The nose offers attractive cedary complexity, and still has cherry aromatics. A powerful, mouthfilling pinot noir with balanced structure. Drinking at its peak. ★★★★

2010 Riposte The Sabre Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir Slightly lighter colour than the 2009 but still bright. Good red fruits nose with cedar/tobacco overtones. At its peak. Needs slightly more middle but is drinking well. ★★★

2010 Riposte Reserve Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir A rich, ripe varietal nose which is commendably fresh, showing appealing mushroom/earth maturity. It’s tightly structured, with firm, fine tannins backed up by persistent flavour. ★★★★

2012 Riposte The Sabre Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir Quite mature, with slightly more mushroom/earth than the 2010, but everything has really come together here. There’s great depth of varietal flavour, backed up by very well balanced tannins. At its best now. ★★★★☆

2013 Riposte The Sabre Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir The mature aromatics still show red fruits. The palate is impressive, with fine tannins and a long finish. ★★★★

2014 Riposte The Sabre Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir Lighter and quite mature. Still offers some varietal flavour and is hanging on, but shows the first signs of drying out. ★★★

2015 Riposte The Sabre Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir The fresh nose offers strawberry and cherry, with hints of spice, and the palate is very satisfying, again balanced by fine tannins. This pinot is bouncing with vinous energy. ★★★★☆

2016 Riposte The Sabre Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir An aromatic red fruits nose with a caress of oak. It’s impressively tight and fine, with excellent length of flavour. ($35.00) ★★★★☆

2016 Riposte Reserve Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir The intense dark cherry aromas lift this wine to another level. It’s rich and round – packed with varietal flavour on a beautifully balanced palate. ($80.00) ★★★★★

2017 Riposte The Sabre Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir ** Pale colour. Fresh, but has a vegetal overtone. The palate is better – quite even and balanced, but needs more weight. Early drinking. ($18.50) ★★★☆ ** Vintage not yet commercially released. 2018 Adelaide Hills Wine Show Gold medal.