Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bass Phillip Pinot Noir

Last night I shared a half bottle of Bass Phillip's 1999 Reserve. This wine is probably Australia's most famous Pinot, partly related to quality (according to Langton's), partly to its famous label, which is smaller than a standard stamp. I went for a half bottle, because of a 10k fun run I did this morning.

I decided to decant the wine, but did not want to do it more than 30 minutes before dinner, given the wine is 9 years old and only a half bottle. I noted that Jeremy Oliver, one of Australia's best known reviewers, rated the wine highly on release, but quite poorly in his latest booklet.

The colour of the wine was similar to orange peel and not very clear - not surprising given the wine is not filtered. The bouquet had very earthy flavours and I was worried the wine was over the hill. The first tastes seemed to support this view. The fruit had significantly disappeared, and the taste was somewhat metallic and not very long. I had tuna with the wine, normally a perfect match.

The surprise came ten minutes later. The wine opened up nicely in the glass, with soft strawberry flavour and complex secondary characteristics, such as mushroom . The taste lengthened on the palate, and soft tannins for a satisfying finish emerged. Not the greatest Pinot ever, but a decent drink. It goes to show that particularly 'naturally' made wines should not be put down for too long. Why the wine managed to recover so well in the glass, I do not know.

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