Saturday, February 18, 2012

Pinot Noirs Tasted Last Week: Tasmania, New Zealand, Oregon

Last week I tasted a number of not so well known Pinot Noirs. Here are some brief notes:

 Apsley Gorge Pinot Noir, Tasmania. The winemaker used to be an abalone diver. Some career change! Apsley Gorge is not well known, and this is my first taste. I like it! The 2008 Pinot Noir wine tastes of cherry fruit, but the highlight is the texture and the silky finish (93 points).

Carrick, Central Otago. This winery burst onto the scene a few years ago with deeply concentrated Pinot Noirs, made for Shiraz drinkers. It got a bit quieter then, this is my first re-acquaintance. The 2009 Pinot Noir has cherry flavours and medium weight - a nice drink, but nothing special (90 points). The 2010 has more punch. It is a more savoury wine with firm tannins (91 points). The gem, and the best amongst the Pinots reviewed here is the 2007 Excelsior Pinot Noir. This is a 'best of barrels' wine. I was told I had the last bottle (!) from the winery. It tasted of concentrated black cherries which lasted on the palate for quite some time and finished firmly (94 points). As an aside, any 2007 Pinot Noir from New Zealand is good and preferable to anything that followed so far.  

Pisa Range Estate, Central Otago. The winery is bordered by Lake Dunstan and the Pisa Range. The 2008 Pinot Noir is a deeply coloured wine, with ripe and concentrated dark cherry flavours. It also tasted of spice and liquorice (92 points). The 2009 Pinot Noir is more fragrant and elegant (92 points).

Providence Vineyards, Tasmania. This vineyard is actually Tasmania's oldest, planted in 1956. The 2008 Black Reserve Pinot Noir shows some silkiness, but suffers from a short finish (90 points). The 2009 has good forest floor characteristics, but is a bit light (90 points).

Rimu Grove, Nelson, NZ. The 2007 Pinot Noir has soft strawberry flavours and is quite light (89 points). Maybe not all 2007 NZ Pinot Noirs are that great.

Wycroft, Wairarapa, NZ. The 2010 Forbury Pinot Noir comes from closely planted, low yielding Dijon clones. The wine is bright, but its structure is a bit simple and the finish harsh (88 points).

I also tasted a number of Oregon wines, mainly from the Willamette valley. In this climate, vintage variation is significant. The 2008 Pinot Noirs, from a very good vintage, can be powerful, yet refined. 2009 shows softer flavours, and the wet 2010 vintage delivered lighter wines. The wines tasted are not the best from the area, but are similarly priced to good Australian or New Zealand Pinot Noir.

Cristom. The 2008 Sommers Pinot Noir is quite dark with black fruit and spicy flavours. The wine is quite elegant, but suffers from a light finish (90 points). The 2009 Mount Jefferson Pinot Noir includes whole fruit clusters with strawberry and raspberry flavours. The wine is savoury and dry, but lacks some weight (91 points).

Evesham Wood. The 2010 Willamette Pinot Noir shows strawberry flavours. It is light and a bit thin (87 points).

Scott Paul. The 2008 La Paulee Pinot Noir has deeper cherry flavours, but the fruit is not very concentrated (88 points).

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