Nick Stock. ##Photo provided

Q&A: Nick Stock

Australian wine pro talks Oregon tasting

Nick Stock remains one of Australia’s most respected and prolific wine critics. His deep involvement in wine stretches well beyond wine writing to judging panels, educating, broadcasting and winemaking. His wealth of knowledge extends to all corners of the wine world and this, combined with his frank and fearless style, has made him one of the most popular and widely read Australian wine writers. He is a regular contributor to more than 30 international publications, global senior editor for and has more than a decade’s worth of major feature and column writing for Australia’s leading wine magazine, Gourmet Traveller WINE. Stock’s television credits span more than a decade with all major Australian networks. He is also a sought-after festival director, public speaker and event host in Australia, New Zealand, Asia, the U.S. and the U.K. Stock is a founder of digital production agencies WineLENS and Rough Luxury Media, working with luxury brands, major events, musicians, fashion designers and government agencies in Australia, New Zealand & Europe. Learn more about Stock at

Q: According to a news report from the Oregon Wine Board, this year’s Oregon tasting for rated 97% of the wines with a score of 90-plus points. Assuming most of the wines were Pinot, what do you look for in a quality Pinot?

NS: High quality Pinot is plentiful in Oregon, and we focus on inviting the best selection of producers to submit to the tasting. There’s a healthy range of terroir-driven styles, which makes for a very interesting offering. The expectation is that Pinot Noir is highly expressive, and Oregon delivers this consistently in a range of vintage conditions. Great Pinot starts with the aromatics; the wines must have attractive perfume and aromatic detail. I look for purity on the palate, and definition is important for fine nuance and legibility of detail. Texture is a deal-breaker; tannins must be fine, long and seamless. Finally, the wines must have balance, freshness and an expansive finish. The wine has to have something to say that relates to site — that’s the whole idea with Pinot.

Q: In your opinion, what makes Oregon Pinot different than Pinots crafted in other regions?

Oregon Pinot is very diverse but one common trait I like is the ability to carry off such rich, silky and fleshy texture and still deliver a balanced, fresh overall impression. This gives the wines a “wow” factor.

Q: From the most recent tasting, how do you rate Oregon Chardonnay compared to other regions?

Oregon Chardonnay is right on track to be a pacesetter for Chardonnay in the US. It hasn’t got the stylistic baggage of the other major regions and there’s a freedom to set an unencumbered modern course. The clincher is that Pinot is so all-consuming for most producers that Chardonnay hasn’t reached full potential in Oregon yet. It’s on the way, and that’s exciting for makers and consumers alike.

Q: How do you organize your tastings? Are they blind? How long does it take to taste 400 wines? Are you joined by other tasters? What do you use for palate cleansers?

We have a constantly evolving list of producers that we invite to submit, and we’ve been assisted by the Oregon Wine Board in liaising and collating samples. We blind taste and then also re-taste the top wines or any outlying wines. The better the wines the more time I spend tasting, so it varies. In Oregon, the quality of high so allocating the right amount of time is crucial. Temperature of the wines when tasting is also something I am very careful about. I drink a lot of water when I am tasting as well as Chinese white tea, which is fresh, mild and neutral. Quite soothing.

Q: What is the most interesting pairing you’ve encountered? A pairing that broke all the rules?

There are no rules to matching wine and food. I worked as a sommelier for several years before turning my attention to becoming a wine critic — I was twice awarded best sommelier in Australia — and spent so much time developing a repertoire of food and wine matching. It really is all about experience and discovering the limits of each wine or each combination. Once you know the parameters, you can play around within them and explore all sorts of options. I like drinking Pinot Noir with high-grade tuna sashimi and nigiri-style sushi.

Q: Any exciting news or upcoming events you’d like to share with our readers?

We have our great wines of the world event series coming up, and we announce our top 100 lists and wine of the year, so keep an eye out for those. It’s a great way to wrap the year and reflect on all the tasting. We will finish up tasting more than 25,000 wines this year at — I’ve personally tasted 10,000 of those! 





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