Thursday, August 31, 2017

Left Hand-Right Hand, Left Brain-Right Brain

Paddy Borthwick, winemaker at Gladstone in the Wairarapa has created an interesting experiment.  He has a ‘left Hand’ and a ‘Right Hand’ Pinot Noir, the LH made by his (former) assistant winemaker, and the RH made by him.  Essentially the two wines come from the same stock, but personal selections of barrels, based on their personal differences.  Paddy considers Braden to have a logical and precise approach to life and winemaking, whereas he is more intuitive and impulsive.  The wines over several vintages have shown some consistencies.  The LH wines are indeed precise and tight, quite firm and linear.  The RH wines more flowing, ethereal, and perfumed.  There’s a more orderly nature to the LH wine, whereas the RH wine can be wider ranging.  Having just tasted the 2014 Paddy Borthwick ‘Left Hand’ and ‘Right Hand’ Wairarapa Pinot Noirs, there are conclusions to be made.  If there’s one thing to take from this, it is that winemaker signature is an important factor in wine.
Interestingly, the LH and RH wine styles and their reasons behind them are a little at odds to what is known or believed in.  LH people are deemed more artistic and emotive, whereas RH are more structured and orderly.  There is also the matter of the handedness and brain hemisphere swapped around, the Right brain working on emotions and the Left brain on cognitive process.  It’s all so confusing!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Above Ones Weight

There is a natural order in wine.  Some are better than others.  Most wine producers work to this, so that the best fruit and greatest care goes into the top label.  Those not quite to style or without the best qualities go into a second, or even third label.  If it can’t make the grade at all, it is sold off, or just dumped. 
However some wines just don’t behave, and often a second wine can punch above its weight.  We see this in wine judging competitions, where a secondary label gets the gold medal, and the premium wine is rated lower.  These good-performing wines just get the balance right and can be truly delicious.  They can be so pleasing, though not necessarily the most complex, so they must get a good medal and be recognised for its quality and style.
One such wine did it for SWMBO and I recently.  It was the 2016 Pencarrow Martinborough Pinot Noir.  Of course its bigger sibling, the Palliser Estate wine is bigger, richer, more structured, more complex and more ageworthy.  But the sweet fruitiness, richness, perfect extraction and freshness made the Pencarrow just simply adorable and irresistible to drink.  So we drank it!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Pretty Pink and Pale

There is a current fad around the world to see the pretty and pale, but dry and thirst-quenching rosé wine of Provence and Southern France as the ultimate in the style.  If your rosé has a deeper or darker colour, and shows aromas and flavours of real fruits, such as strawberries, raspberries, pomegranate and quince, and they have a little lifted confectionary character, then the wine doesn’t fit in with what is trendy.  And that’s a shame, as for most consumer, myself included, I like a bit of diversity.  There are times and foods that work better with a rosé with more flavour and/or structure.  The key thing is that the wines are mouth-watering and thirst-quenching in the final analysis.  However, the current predisposition for pale and pink is strong, and one must be aware of what they entail and offer.  They do have  a range of personalities and quality, so one must still be careful in choosing the right one.

It was a treat to have four southern French rosé wine come my way.  They were authentic, but were not the most famous or esteemed.  But they delivered exactly as they should have.  Some a little more than other, and others a little less.  The 2016 Chemin des Sables Mediterranee Rosé was light in flavour, vibrant and fresh, but a little too phenolic and grippy for great balance.  But still, it did the job.  I was taken more by the 2016 Plaisir’osé Var Rosé, more fragrant and fruity, and with very good acidity and textural balance.  Maybe it’s my New World palate, but this modern style appealed to me the most.  Then can what I’d regard as the most ‘authentic’, showing the character and interest that Provencale rosé can deliver.  The 2016 Henri Gaillard Cotes de Provence Rosé had elegance and concentration, lovely freshness and fruit, but also with a touch of non-perfect complexity in flavour. This had interest.  Again, it might be my New World stereotyping playing its part.  And finally the 2016 J. L. Quinson Cotes de Provence Rosé, harmonious and delicate, maybe a little light in character, but in no way offering any offence.

These were all true-to-style, but quite amazingly so different – in a subtle way of course.  Diversity and variety is the spice of life, and our perspectives of rosé should encompass that too, beyond just pale, pretty and pink.