This winery changed hands in May 2016, with one family company, Brown Brothers, taking it off the hands of another, its founder, Phil Sexton. So associated is Innocent Bystander with the 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. This regional and varietal style, reflecting the soil, climate and topography of the cool climate in the Yarra Valley is the base upon which the reputation of Innocent Bystander has been built.
This wine is produced from a number of vineyards that span the Yarra from Paul's Range at Dixons Creek in the north across to Bastard Hill in the very cool southern Upper Yarra. The vineyards were chosen in particular for their high diurnal temperature range, resulting in wines with high natural acidity and low pH. Yields are less than seven tonnes per hectare.
All grapes were hand picked. Due to exceptional fruit quality, 40% was fermented as whole bunch. This was a perfect opportunity to harness the whole bunch perfumes of the Yarra. The must was cold soaked for four days, with a mix of drain and returns and light plunging for 10-12 days. Indigenous fermentation took place in five tonne open fermenters and four tonne oak vats. The wine was matured in a mix of old barriques and stainless steel tanks, with four months in French oak.
This Pinot Noir has aromas of boysenberries, cherry and cranberry. Baked earth, dried spice, juniper and fresh bay tree notes also come through on the nose. On the palate, dark fruits, a velvety mouthfeel and soft savoury tannins make a lovely finish.