Behind the label: Distant Noises

Behind the label: Distant Noises

Tom Carson (pictured) has a big following among fans of Australian wines. He has been on the scene for around three decades, aiming to showcase his country’s winemaking attributes. Since finishing his oenology studies in 1991, he has combined his work at several Australian wineries with spells in France, where he spent time in Burgundy and Champagne. He was also named International Winemaker of the Year at the International Wine & Spirit competition in London and chaired Australia’s National Wine Show.

Latterly, he was chief winemaker at Yabby Lake, where his skills were recognised by industry awards and a growing reputation for the quality of his work. That was where we first became aware of his talents, and we’re delighted that he has chosen to move on to this latest challenge. He has specific goals for the Distant Voices project, notably producing a high quality product at prices which make Mornington wine accessible to a wide audience.

We believe he has done a fine job in using sustainable methods that encapsulate all of the good things about Australian wine. Mornington is a fascinating area, boasting a cool climate and an environment that yields grapes which, in the hands of a skilled maker, can produce outstanding wine.

While there is a bias towards reds, Carson is also producing great whites, and we like the 2019 Chardonnay. The fruit was hand harvested and pressed in small batches then left to settle and the wine was aged in wooden barrels for 10 months. That gives it a slightly spicy oak flavour which combines with citrus and peach for a beautifully balanced wine that lingers on the palate.

When it came to reds, we were spoiled for choice, so we opted to add three distinct styles to our list. The first is Cabernet Sauvignon 2019. The fruit is sourced from the Yarra Valley, where Carson lives, and the winemaking is sensitive and precise – just what we expect from him. Typically for this grape, there is perfume and spice on the nose. However, unlike the classic full-bodied version of Cabernet Sauvignon, this is a little lighter, with a silky finish and great depth of flavour.

Carson’s Syrah is similar in character, with perfume and spice driving the flavours. It’s also medium-bodied and silky, although a little fruitier than the Cabernet Sauvignon.

And, rounding off our Distant Noises quartet, is a luscious Pinot Noir, which is a grape that can be tricky to work with, but is one that Carson appears to have mastered. The fruit is hand-picked, hand-sorted then carefully destemmed in an extremely labour-intensive process. Fermentation takes place in traditional open top fermenters, with the maturation process comprising 10 months in oak barrels. Aromas of cherry and red berries combine with a touch of spice and underlying French oak for an elegant velvety finish that has been compared to an excellent Burgundy.

We often find that Australian wines can divide opinion. It’s a legacy of the years when production was increased, but quality suffered. Now, thanks to winemakers such as Tom Carson and others with a similar focus on quality, great Aussie wine is now increasingly common.

We’ll drink to that!