Friday, February 28, 2020

Pinot Noir: Australia vs. Burgundy

I tasted the wines shown above (a little hard to see) with a group of friends last night. It turned out they were all incredibly different from each other. Following are brief impressions focussing on those differences.

First up was a 2014 Tolpuddle from Tasmania. This wine had an incredibly light colour. The wine was very perfumed on the nose, and the red fruit on the palate very pure, open and feminine (93 points).

The 2010 By Farr Sangreal was the total opposite; dark, brooding and a lot of complexity. Black cherry flavours turned to mushroom and forest floor in a blend of fruit and secondary flavours. A lot of whole bunch in this one (95 points).

The 2009 Scorpo from Mornington was a real surprise. This masculine wine stood the test of time really well. Some tasters liked it a lot; I found the feel in the mouth a bit simple, but the structure was still balanced (93 points).

The first Burgundy was a 2014 1er cru from Domaine Faively's Nuits-Saint-Georges bottling. This wine had all the elements of a great Burgundy; dark cherry fruit in a beautiful frame, with balanced acidity and tannins generating a lot of energy down the palate. Saline notes and minerality came to the fore behind the fruit to complete the picture (96 points). 

Next came a 1997 Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru from Harmand-Geoffroy. This wine was quite muted. Stinky and slightly feral aromas overshadowed the fruit which was on the way out. The wine tasted leathery before closing with mellowed tannins. This wine was clearly past its best. This should not be the case for a Grand Cru of this age, but it happens when a poor vintage and an average producer come together (89 points). 

The 2012 Corton Grand Cru by Domaine Cornu was most unusual. Some thought it actually tasted like Grenache. It showed confectionary aroma and was not typical of red Burgundy. However, over time in the glass, other flavours came through; black cherry, orange peel, even licorice - very strange. Again this was a wine from a not so great vintage and an average producer (89 points).

Finally, we tasted the 2008 Thibaut Liger-Belair Les St. Georges (1er cru). This was the most powerful wine. The fruit was more in the red cherry spectrum. We also agreed on toasted sesame (!), and orange peel. This wine, despite its power, had a certain lightness. This was a slight problem for me. The acidity overwhelmed the fruit (not so great from 2008). As a result the wine lacked some balance. A high score is justified none the less because of the sheer drive and energy in this wine (95 points).

Overall, a couple of conclusions could be drawn. The Australian wines simply did not have the drive of the better Burgundies, although the fruit profiles were interesting and engaging. Within the Burgundies, this tasting demonstrated powerfully that looking at the classification only is too simplistic. Vintage and producer play a major role: taste before you buy. 


Anonymous said...

Hi Thomas,
Im interpreting you received more enjoyment from the more masculine Pinots in this line up?
Is that your personal preference, rather than the lighter bodied Pinots?


Alontin said...

Interesting observation, Colin. I look for balance between fruit, acidity and tannin. Obviously, you want a fair bit of all. This may lead you to more masculine Pinot Noirs. However, if you, for example, search for Kooyong in my blog, you will find that out of the 2010s I preferred the Meres, the most feminine wine.

Another interpretation could be that I prefer masculine in Burgundy, as the great wines have power, whereas in Australia, where the emphasis is mostly on fruit, elegance and softness can be more attractive.