Day two of the Challenge, including some lovely Pinot Noir

Another busy day at the International Wine Challenge today. I had another good, hard-working table, and we tasted 131 wines together.

Two flights stood out. The first was a flight of Chilean Pinot Noirs. I wasn’t expecting a great deal, but these were consistently good, with most of them reaching medal standard. Chile is making good progress with Pinot, particularly (exclusively?) from cooler coastal areas. The rate of progress leads me to suggest that if it’s maintained, then New Zealand might face a bit of a challenge in years to come.

The second was a large flight of Central Otago Pinot Noirs from the 2008 vintage. This flight showed why New Zealand Pinot Noir is so well regarded: it’s just so consistently good. There were some lovely wines, with real elegance, freshness and balance. Most got through as medal standard, with just one failing to reach the mark.

Not all the wines are as good. A table next to me asked me to identify a presumed fault in an Indian Cabernet. It had some nice sweet fruit, but also the meanest methoxypyrazine streak you could imagine, plus a sort of smoke taint – the finish reminded me of a peaty Islay whisky.

Below is a nice shot of the Barbican, taken on the way to lunch.

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