Pinot Noir 2010, day two
The theme today? Sustainability, and all that goes with it.
Carrick Excelsior Pinot Noir 2005 Central Otago, New Zealand
A single-vineyard wine made from Carrickís older vines in Bannockburn. 13.5% alcohol. Rich yet restrained nose of red berries, cherries and complex spices. The palate is concentrated and taut with lovely red fruit character, good acidity and spicy tannins. Itís lively, assertive and complex. Still quite primary, even though it is four years old, with superb balance and promise for the future. It seems a shame to drink it now: this is a serious, quite structured wine that will probably be approaching its best in a decade. 93/100
Domaine de la Romanťe-Conti Grands Echezeaux 1971 Burgundy, France
Cloudy and pale coloured on pouring, this doesn't look to promising, but actually it's drinking superbly. Old earthy nose with some smooth bright cherry fruit. The palate, however, is beautifully elegant with subtle, sweet cherry and herb fruit, some undergrowth and fine spicy notes. Super-smooth with good complexity and a bit of sweetness. This is beautiful, but drink now. 95/100 (Tasted at The Sampler)
Last year I really enjoyed visiting Oregon for the first time, and developed a liking for Oregon Pinot Noir. Here's a really good one that I cracked open last night, and am finishing off tonight.
For my next visit I was off to Carneros, the cooler-climate bit of Napa at the south of the valley, where the influence of breezes from the San Francisco bay are more keenly felt. This is where Pinot Noir and Chardonnay thrive, and Saintsbury was my destination.
On my last visit to New Zealand, one of the many highlights was visiting Daniel Schuster in Waipara. He wasn't there, but the vineyard was spellbindingly beautiful, and the wines elegantly European in style.
I just love this wine. I suspect there's something special about Pinot Noir from the Wairarapa (Martinborough) region: when I visit NZ again early next year, I'm going to pay a visit to explore further.
I'm currently sitting at my desk, eating a simple tea of bread rolls and Comte cheese, drinking an understated, rather elegant New Zealand Pinot Noir (Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Noir 2008, Marlborough, New Zealand).
When I was first getting into wine, the line with Pinot Noir was that it was a tricky grape that didn't really perform outside Burgundy.
Two rather different Pinots, but both costing £9.99 and weighing in at 12.5% alcohol. One from Burgundy; the other from the Yarra Valley. Both producers have strong reputations for Pinot.
We had some good friends over last night for dinner, two couples and another friend, all of whom we've known for 20 years. There's something rich about this sort of history.
Interesting interpretation of Aussie Pinot Noir, this. It's made by Steve Webber at De Bortoli, who is clearly aiming at old world elegance rather than sweet new world fruit. It's not a great wine, but it's interesting, food compatible and thought-provoking.
Played football again this evening. I'm nuts: I'm playing again tomorrow night. At my age? Well, I'm keen on exercise because it means I can keep eating and drinking well, and not become a big fatty. [I'm not being fattist here: everyone is beautiful and worthy of much love - whatever their waist size - it's just I'm a weak individual who has a shallow self-confidence, and I couldn't carry 'fat' off very well.]
Two wines from Dog Point, a premium New Zealand winery formed by ex-Cloudy Bay viticulturalist and winemaker team Ivan Sutherland and James Healy. These wines are better than Cloudy Bay! Especially the remarkable Pinot Noir, which I really enjoyed.
Very keen on New Zealand Pinot Noir at the moment. Helps feed my Pinot addiction. Let's face it, while the best red Burgundies are peerless, the average quality in Burgundy is low disappointing, and there's not much to like about almost all affordable red Burgundy. But New Zealand delivers in the £10-20 range and seldom really disappoints.
I'm pretty much addicted to Pinot Noir these days. I can't refuse its charms. When it calls me, I am powerless to resist. I dream of Pinot, and when I awake, I can't wait until it's 6 pm and time to open another. [I exagerrate, a little. But I do really, really like good Pinot.]
A video of me tasting three German Pinot Noirs, including the one that won the Decanter World Wine Awards Pinot Noir tropy this year. Notes on the wines are below.
Two Pinot Noirs from Winegrowers of Ara. I've also posted a long article on the main site about the concept behind this project here, which I think is interesting. But then I'm a bit of a geek. Anyway, here are the notes.
Tonight I'm drinking a wine that is bringing me great joy. It's alive. It's complex. It's elegant. It's wild. But it's just a humble Bourgogne.
Two visits this morning, before I headed to the airport. The first was at Bergstrom wines, with the impressive Josh Bergstrom who is working his own vineyards biodynamically. I was especially impressed with his Riesling, which is wittily named 'Dr Bergstrom' - all precise, linear and minerally with a touch of residual sugar. Then I drove over to Rex Hill/A to Z wineworks, which is a relatively new operation in its current form, making seriously impressive commercial wines under the A to Z label and more serious wines under the revitalized Rex Hill label, including some profound single vineyard Pinots.
Some brief notes from the road. Day 3, Oregon. Started off at Beaux Freres winery, with Mike Etzel. It was a really educational visit. Mike has two hillside vineyards, hidden away among woodland - indeed, most of his property is wooded, and it's quite beautiful. The vineyards are farmed biodynamically, and the wines are among Oregon's most prized. Above is the in-row cultivator at work, while below the old fire engine is used for developing the compost heaps, which need a lot of water. We spent a fair bit of time in the vineyards, tasted some barrels and then had lunch at a brilliant, inexpensive Mexican joint in town.
The hottest ticket in McMinnville: the IPNC Salmon Bake, which was held last night (Saturday) in the Linfield College Oak Grove. The wild salmon is baked on Alder stakes over an open fire (pictured), which is a traditional method, and looks pretty spectacular. The salmon is served with a sumptuous buffet, and sommeliers go round distributing wines to the tables so you get to try quite an assortment of things.
I used to be a bit of a Chile sceptic. Since my January visit, though, I've seen plenty of reasons for optimism about Chilean wine. Yes, there's still a bit of a problem with greenness in reds, and a bit more diversity and complexity in the higher-end wines would be welcomed. And I also think the country needs more boutique wineries, pushing the boundaries of quality on a small scale. But there's a dynamism to the current Chilean wine scene that suggests that in five years time, the picture will be a very different one.
As I think I've mentioned here before, our boys are adopted. They're brothers, and they have two sisters who are also adopted with another couple. We get together a couple of times a year, home and away, and it's usually good fun.
There was a collective deep intake of breath in the UK wine trade today, as everyone prepared for the London International Wine Fair, which is the big event in the calendar each year, and begins tomorrow (Tuesday). It will be a crazy busy three days, with lots of people in town from around the globe - from a journalist's perspective an embarassment of riches, making it hard to know just who to spend the limited time available with.
California makes some great wine. It also makes some dire wine. I know this is a bit of a generalization, but in the UK we mostly see the former - central valley rubbish (the big Californian brands - I don't need to name names) - because the good stuff works out too expensive for our competitive market and tight wallets.
It's been a nice day here at the Goode residence, as I end week two of my freelance life. I confess: Fiona and I took another long Friday lunch together. This time we went to Richmond and ate at Wagamama, which I think I'm slightly addicted to. We both ordered no. 42 - yaki udon (£7.25) which consists of: teppan-fried udon noodles with curry oil, shiitake mushrooms,
One of my favourite ways of relaxing is by doing a bit of work. This sounds nuts: it makes me out to be some crazy sort of workaholic who needs to get his head examined, his priorities sorted out and a course of sessions with a therapist booked, promptly.
Most wine nuts have a Pinot Noir epiphany. They start off wondering why peope make such a fuss about this variety - it's not a grape that makes big, heavy, intense wines (remember, size tends to impess newbies). Then, some way into their journey of exploration they suddenly 'get' Pinot Noir, and fall in love with it. But even then Pinot Noir is a bit like an unreliable lover - you suffer a lot of pain along the way, although the occasional highs make you persevere through the trouble.
The gloriously warm but worryingly aseasonal weather continues here in London. I'm enjoying my early morning dog walks because the light is just so wonderful. However, today's walk was quite difficult because now RTL is fully in season, and walking her is proving to be fraught with male danger. She ran after a brown labrador and started engaging in some vigorous play, but eventually I rescued her from peril and got her back on her lead. Ten minutes later I let her off the lead again, and she took one guilty look at me before haring off in the other direction. Fortunately, the male lab was long gone.
I don't drink enough Burgundy. Trying to redress this balance, I opened one this lunchtime. A village Gevrey, it's quite elegant and understated, but at over £20 it feels a little on the expensive side. Perhaps I'm being unrealistic, but if I shell out £20 on a bottle of wine, I want something exciting. It's not that this wine is expensive by the standards of the region - it's actually one of the best £20 red Burgundies I've had - and I suppose this is the reason I don't really drink a lot of Burgundy.