Bass Phillip is named after George Bass and Arthur Phillip – men of great pioneering spirit, foresight and leadership during the nineteenth century. Phillip Jones first established the Bass Phillip vineyards, many years later, in the southeastern corner of Australia in 1979, specialising in high-quality pinot noir and chardonnay wines.
Winemaking at Bass Phillip is uncompromising and driven by the respect for nature. The vineyards are organic since 1993 and biodynamic since 2002. All wine production process at Bass Phillip is guided by the cosmic rhythms that impart energy and vibrancy into the wines.
Made in a simple and traditional manner, with low-cropped vineyards, no irrigation and minimal intervention in the winery, the wines of Bass Phillip display flavours which are characteristic of the region and their individual vineyards. Deep mineral-rich soils, natural high humidity, and cooler temperatures in South Gippsland is also part of the magic that delivers the length, complexity, flavors, balanced acidity, and natural minerality to Bass Phillip wines. Combined with Phillip Jones’s undivided attention to detail in the vineyards and winery, and an insatiable passion for quality wine experiences, Bass Phillip produces extraordinary wines one vintage after another.
The most recent vintages of Bass Phillip pinot noir are the best we have produced. We put this down to older vines, more experience in winemaking, and continued sustainable practices in both the vineyards and winery.
What makes Bass Phillip unique?
The founder and current winemaker Phillip Jones commenced his career as a research engineer. Even after becoming a passionate winemaker, Phillip has maintained a scientific approach to his winemaking, and as a result, wines at Bass Phillip are handcrafted with strict scientific analysis and monitored with rigorous quality control. However the story doesn't end there, the real essence of Bass Phillip’s wine production is to allow the forces of nature to maintain control. Minimal human intervention is practiced wherever possible – no irrigation/pesticides/fertilizers, minimal pumping/ filtration, natural yeast, no fining agents.
As a perfectionist, Phillip Jones crops his fruit at incredibly low levels to achieve his objectives in flavour development. He believes strongly in a gentle hand. Racking is kept to a minimum and no pumps are used in the winery. "The difference between good and great Pinot Noir is texture. We try to minimise the bruising effects that pumping can have on this texture." Ultimately his priority is to produce a wine that is completely natural and which expresses vineyard site. This sounds simple, but such a high standard does require a relentless pursuit of perfection – and a degree of madness.
The Biodynamic practice at Bass Phillip is planned according to the lunar cycles. Adopting these practices means that each vintage of Bass Phillip wines exhibits the characteristics of “mother nature’s” temperament, expressing the harmony of earth, moon and sun .............displaying the natural influences of nature's power and elegance.
South Gippsland's "Terroir"
South Gippsland is not only renowned for dairy and beef, but also the giant Gippsland earthworm, which play an active role in the fertilization and airing of the deep mineral-rich soil of the vineyards. The region is blessed with approx.1,000 millimetres of rainfall per annum and a deep, silty loam soil filled with volcanic minerals. High temperatures (mid 30 Celsius degrees) in the summer months are balanced by humidity and late afternoon, cool air from Bass Straight. All these factors contribute to the intense flavours, aromatics and exceptional length in the finish, which are trademarks of Bass Phillip’s vibrant, yet graceful wines.
Dense Vines & Low Yields
This is basically a story of “quality overrides quantity”
High density planting is one of the approaches taken by Bass Phillip to prove that Australia can produce a jaw-dropping pinot that is comparable with the best from the Pinot Monarch – Burgundy, France.
Bass Phillip achieves a cropping level of 1.0 -1.3 tonnes per acre (compared to from 2 to 4 tons per acre average in Australia). We believe this contributes to intensity and length of flavour which is not always prominent in Aussie pinots. Many question the economics of this low level of yield, but when the wine-making is driven by an obsession for perfection and instinctive flair, production costs become secondary.
Although a single vine at Bass Phillip barely makes half a bottle of wine, the highly perfumed nose, robust flavors, exquisite textures, profound complexity and minerality contained in each bottle provide a justification for this practice.
Long Cellaring Potential
Bass Phillip pinot noirs have always managed to improve in the cellar, sometimes for more than twenty years (1985, ’88, & ’89 are currently magnificent). Bass Phillip believes this ability to cellar and mature superbly over extended periods comes from the strong mineral component of the soil and climatic conditions that provide good natural acidity. When young, the wines are not excessive or unbalanced in any way, but develop a blossoming strength of flavour at the back of the palate, as the wines age. This is one of the most attractive features of the Premium and Reserve Bass Phillip wines.
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