Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Tough Skinned

The Pinot Noir vintages of 2005 and 2007 in New Zealand saw some interesting results with the fruit.  Both years saw smaller berries and tougher skins.  At the time, the wines made from these years were seen as remarkable in their structure, and depending on the district, made up for what could have been less than ideal ripening, as the smaller bunches and berries quickly gained to where they should have been.  Over time, the good wines have proven to be good without showing any nasties, but in some wines, there are green characters and excessive tannin and extraction.  That’s what generally happens with bottle-age being the great leveller.  The Pretty Pair and The Fine Fin People each put up a Pinot Noir from one of these two idiosyncratic vintages, and they made a fascinating comparison.

First was the 2005 Peregine ‘Pinnacle’ Central Otago Pinot Noir.  Released as arguably the most expensive New Zealand Pinot Noir at the time, bottled in heavy glass, a pewter-like label, and a machine metal tube to encase it.  Garish to some people, but just the ticket to show-off for others.  The wine was clearly made to be a statement.  Well a decade or so on, it was still a statement.  Dark coloured and dark fruited, and truly sweet in flavour, though unveiling the slightly disconcerting flavours of herbs and stalks, along with ‘cola’ to some of us.  Sure these were signs of something cool creeping in.  But the lusciousness, size, mouthfeel and boldness, including the oaking was sensational.  In a time when the caricature of Central Otago Pinot Noir was everything, this was one of the best, and still seems so today.  An intellectual statement!

Then came the 2007 Neudorf Moutere Nelson Pinot Noir.  It could never be as big or as brazen as the Peregrine.  Much more sedate and stylish, this nevertheless had power and concentration.  Afterall, it too was a thick skinned berry year.  But the flavours in the favour red fruit spectrum, with complexing dried herbs.  Whole cluster complexities maybe?  Complexities anyway.  Still with fine grip, and not in any excess.  If anything a little acidic, and this carried the wine.  The overall impression was not of maker or region, by variety in its best and most interesting expression.  This was one to sip and savour on, as one’s secret dinking pleasure.  Delicious in a visceral way.    

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