jamie goode's wine blog: Ahh, Pinot Noir

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Ahh, Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir can be an addiction. Every now and again you taste one that fulfils all the promise that this fickle grape offers but seldom delivers on. And then you taste half a dozen that are, at best, simple and fruity, but which probably cost you a lot of money. It's a bit like watching English sports teams: one great performance followed by six wretched ones.

Pinot Noir has the potential to make the most sublime, elegant red wines. We all enjoy gutsy power from time to time, and concentration and richness have their place, but surely the holy grail of red wine making [am I mixing my metaphors here? Shouldn't the wine be in the grail?] has to be elegance and understated complexity.

Tonight's tipple is from New Zealand's Central Otago, which has fairly recently emerged as one of the top three destinations for Pinot Noir outside Burgundy. Don't ask me what the other two are, though - I just thought this sounded less hypey than saying 'the best'.

Lowburn Ferry Pinot Noir 2005 Central Otago, New Zealand
Lovely dark cherry, spice and herb nose with a bit of chocolatey richness. Deliciously pure fruit. The plate shows red berry and cherry fruit with warm spicy richness and a light texture, despite the fact that it is full flavoured. Supple, balanced and quite textured, with some grippy tannin on the finish suggesting that this has further to go in terms of its evolution. Very good/excellent 91/100 (available from Hellion Wines in the UK at 16.95)

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At 3:41 AM, Blogger Paul Tudor said...

Is Pinot Noir the Freddie Flintoff of grape varieties?
Sorry, can not resist that one, but Freddie's onboard adventures have been followed with great interest out here in the colonies.

At 10:29 AM, Anonymous anders, stockholm said...


I seem to remember you are a fan of the Felton Road winery, no? I loved their Block 3 Pinot when I tasted it a few weeks ago; concentrated without being heavy, wonderfully complex and nuanced, and perfect balance and purity. Would you say you find any resemblance in the Lowburn Ferry?


At 11:00 AM, Blogger timmyc said...

Ah yes Pinot Noir, never has a grape variety managed to disapoint on so many occasions and still have me running back for more. Calling it like watching an England team is perhaps a little unfair - Pinot is rarely as truly aweful as England can be! But nice analogy anyway.


At 12:52 AM, Anonymous Doug said...

I remember talking to Nigel at Felton Rd about the 05 Block Pinots (you would be lucky to find them now - they were made in such tiny quantities); the wines were massively concentrated, particularly the Block 5 while the Block 3, although a beautiful wine, deserved a few more years before broaching.

There's a lot of potentially good Pinot coming on stream in Central (Lowburn was only planted as recently as 2000, I believe), but many of the winemakers are trying to make something too high-powered too quickly. The Felton Road wines provide a superb benchmark for purity and expression of Bannockburn typicity as the team have continued to improve the work in the vineyard and the winery vintage after vintage. Effectively biodynamic with exceptionally low yields from hand selected fruit, wild yeast ferment, clever use of air dried oak - it's winemaking with a mission.

At 6:25 AM, Blogger Sonal said...

I deffently agree with you and your description of Felton Rd Pinot noir, it is fantastic. What do you think about its neighbours? Olessons and Mt Difficulty?? All three have the same clone of Pinot noir, planted around the same time (they are around 12/13years old). How would you say Central Otago Pinot noirs compares to Martinborough and Marlborough Pinot noirs???


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