One of my mentors in judging had a catchphrase “fruit is the hero”. And that is still my creed for most wines, and indeed for New World wines. Then I learnt about ‘terroir’ and how the expression of such was paramount in the best Old World wines. So I now have multiple value systems that many wine aficionados will find difficult to accept. I believe the two approaches do work for me and there is an area of grey which encompasses both, creating a mixed perspective. Sometimes this philosophy catches me out.
So it was when The Roader presented, as he does, a bottle of red, served blind, and we had to go through the process of trying to identify it. It was definitely Pinot Noir with its savoury red berry fruits and gentle structure, all presented with the elegance that Pinot Noir has over the other noble varieties. But the fruitiness was intriguing in that there was a lovely sweetness to it. This suggested New World, and I kept on thinking out New Zealand, rather than Australia or North America. But a gamey complexity led me to think Old World and Burgundy. This had bottle age on it for sure. Then the structure was in the middle ground. It was refined but quite positive. It could have gone either way, but as fruit was the hero here, I plumped for New Zealand Pinot Noir 2010-2012, from Central Otago, Waipara or Wairarapa. And I was wrong on all accounts. SWMBO who was on form, was pretty much on form, picking one of the firmer Cotes de Nuits appellations, and at least premier cru level.
It all became so obvious when The Roader unveiled the wine – 2005 Georges Roumier Chambolle-Musigny. A producer that punches way above the appellation in all his wines. Maybe I should have guessed, but I didn’t.