Friday, September 18, 2015

An Extraordinary Pinot Noir Tasting

I attended an amazing Pinot Noir tasting with a cross section of the best producers from Australia and New Zealand, and a smattering of good Burgundies. As often is the case in such comparisons, the Southern Hemisphere does very well because of the higher fruit intensity in its wines. Having said this, there were a number of Burgundies I would only be too happy to drink on their own with a meal.

Essentially, I would group the wines into one of four categories. The best wines would show incredible finesse and super silky tannins. The next group would show predominantly savoury and earthy characteristics. Group three would include fruit dominated wines, and group four would consist of less intense wines with a less than perfect structure. (This has to be seen in the context of a very high standard to start with.)

I put into the first group the 2014 Bindi Original Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2013 Mount Mary Pinot Noir, 2013 Bass Phillip Premium Pinot Noir,  2012 William Selyem Bucher Vineyard Pinot Noir (Russian River), and the 2008 Domaine Confuron-Cotetidot Grand Cru from the Clos de Vougeot site. The stand out wine was the 2013 Mount Mary. This is a sensational wine with the often experienced finesse, but more intensity then usual. The wine is precise, very elegant and silky with super fine tannins and a long finish (97 points). The Bindi is in a similar style, but not quite the same quality. The Bass Phillip is bigger than the Bindi, not quite as elegant and refined as the Mount Mary. The William Selyem is super smooth, whereas the Clos de Vougeot showed the biggest aroma and some attractive minerality.

Some of the French wines, not surprisingly, would fall into the second group. I am not reviewing them in detail here because of their small volumes. Also in this group is the 2013 By Farr 'Farrside' Pinot Noir. This is quite a powerful wine, only partly destemmed, quite perfumed, savoury, with a good structure and silky finish.

All the New Zealand wines fell into the third category. Beautiful fruit, but some Central Otago wines almost showed Shiraz-like characteristics. These were 2014 Burn Cottage 'Moonlight Race', 2013 Fromm 'Clayvin Vineyard', 2013 Escarpment, which was a bit more restrained,  2014 Felton Road 'Cornish Point' (quite sweet), 2012 Rippon 'Tinker's Field' and 'Emma's Block'. The 2013 Curly Flat and the 2013 Giant Steps 'Sexton Vineyard' also belonged to this group.

There were a couple of Burgundies and the 2014 Yabby Lake Single Vineyard Pinot Noir and the 2013 Dog Point in this final group. Against the others, the Yabby Lake was disappointing, with a weaker structure and little intensity on the palate.

An interesting wine was the 2008 Domaine Ponsot Clos de la Roche. This wine retails for $900 per bottle. It had intense fruit and a long finish, but a strong brett character. To me, this wine was faulty.

This hopefully gives a bit of an idea of the tasting. I will now be off for 10 days, most likely.

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