In a nutshell: A vibrant and fruity Australian Pinot Noir from Victoria's Yarra Valley east of Melbourne.
The lowdown: The Yarra Valley, near Melbourne, is home to the quirky Innocent Bystander winery and is also a top location for growing Pinot Noir. Innocent Bystander's is hand picked with 10% being kept as whole bunches before being macerated and fermented in stainless steel tanks after which a small propertion was matured for 9 months in oak. The result is a vibrant, fruity wine bottled early for freshness. It's got aromas of boysenberries, cherry and cranberry with earthy notes of dried spices while on the palate it's full of fresh ripe fruit, and a touch of savoury meatiness to give it richness. The velvety mouthfeel and soft savoury tannins make for a lovely finish.
When to drink: Bright and fresh enough to make a super stand alone wine and it'll also work well with pork and chicken dishes as well as meatier fish, such as Dover Sole or Monkfish.
Originally established in 1997 by Phil Sexton who is something of a serial drinks company entrepreneur with wineries like Giant Steps and breweries like Little Creatures to his name, Innocent Bystander was sold in May 2016 to Brown Brothers. So associated is Innocent Bystander with Victoria's, Yarra Valley that the new owners made the intelligent decision to build a new winery in Healesville, just across the parking lot from Giant Steps. They quickly signed contracts with all the grape growers that Phil used for Innocent Bystander, so that the style of the wines remains unchanged.
That style - wines that are regional and varietal, reflecting the soil, climate and topography of the cool climate in the Yarra Valley - has been the base upon which the reputation of Innocent Bystander has been built. They sources their fruit from vineyards scattered all over Victoria, such as King Valley for the Prosecco, Swan Hill for the Moscato, Heathcote for the Tempranillo, and King Valley for the Pinot Gris. Winemaking duties are undertaken by a talented bunch of people from Brown Brothers, under the guidance of Chief Winemaker Joel Tilbrook.