I recently purchased a few Pinots and made a point of selecting wines from various regions outside of the Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula. This wine, for example, is from Pemberton in Western Australia, a region from which I’ve tasted the Pinots of only one other maker (Picardy).
Is it possible to know a vineyard after tasting its output only twice? Hardly, or at least not in every respect. But those sites of special interest are so partly because they impart a particular character, hopefully attractive, to the wines made from their fruit. A truism, perhaps, and something of an abstract religion to those who place importance in the idea of a
I’m a sucker for McLaren Vale Shiraz, and tend to prefer its flavour profile to some other nearby regions. There often seems a thread of bitter chocolate running through the most typical wines that meshes well with a what is frequently a dark fruit flavour profile. Yes, I declare a decided preference for this style, and it’s gratifying to have an especially good example in front of me now.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about wine styles and how some come to be defined as classics over time. In a way, it’s more complex than the literary canon, for example, in which a single, unchanging artifact is evaluated and re-evaluated over time. With wine, a particular combination of variety and region remains static but a whole set of variables — everything from particular vintage conditions to winemaking to long term climatic variations — ensures a constant evolution. So, how to pin down the essentials?
Together with the Stefano Lubiana tasted yesterday, this wine falls in a sparsely populated class that I shall call “second label Australian Pinot Noirs that don’t taste like second label Australian Pinot Noirs.” Breaking new ground, as always.
Visiting Central Otago with Chris late last year was instructive in many respects, not least in the opportunity it afforded to taste many producers’ second label Pinots alongside their premium offerings. As much as I’d like to believe in the romanticism of wine and winemaking, more often than not I am struck by how calculated a particular range of wines can be. A simple, fruity second label, a heftier mainstream wine, an excessively extracted and oaked reserve label. Very much by the numbers, and quite uninteresting as a set of implicit assumptions around what constitutes quality and value.
An inviting, lush nose with just a hint of varietal leafiness. It’s not the gravel-fest one might expect from Margaret River Cabernet but, if you can get past the absence of outré regional character, the aroma profile is gently approachable and attractive. Good complexity, with oak playing a relatively prominent role in vanilla custard mode. The fruit character seems rounded rather than intellectual and angular, perhaps a function of bottle age as well as style.
Looking over at the glass, I initially mistook it for Martinelli sparkling cider, the fake Champagne every child gets at the Thanksgiving dinner table. It’s an unusual color for a white wine, brittle and clear, fairly pale and somewhat off-putting (at least to me). The nose is something like salt-water taffy, sweet with a hint of pineapple, possibly like hot buttered popcorn (oily, salty, with a hint of sugar). Pretty strange stuff, but of course pinot blanc isn’t something I drink often, so I don’t know if this is typical or not.I’m none too thrilled by this wine; it seems flat, flabby, not very refreshing. There isn’t much flavor here that I can discern; it’s mostly just generically wine-y, with the vaguest of off flavors that I can’t pin down entirely. The acidity leaves a bit of a burn in my throat, and all in all this wine leaves me cold. There’s more flavor and complexity in a bowl of Corn Pops than in this bottle; this isn’t one I’ll be finishing.Kuentz-Bas
With respect to the apparent fashion towards wine labels that consist of cryptic collections of letters and, at times, numbers, I’m not a fan. To be honest, it reminds me too much of the sort of corporate-speak that surrounds me every day; when I come home, I’d rather sit down to something vaguely romantic and aspirational instead of a label that describes the result of a scientific trial.
Such a beautiful color, this wine; it’s blindingly clear transparent watermelon candy, crimson rose petals leaching into a luxurious bath, cherry fruit leather drying in Andean sunshine. Strangely enough, I’m enjoying looking at this wine more than I am drinking it: this is a wine that doesn’t demand attention or thought, just enjoyment. Obviously, though, not every wine has to be some kind of profound experience; some are just fine as an accompaniment to White Castle sliders and the dying light of a cool May evening in the back yard. On the other hand, that’s really selling this wine short; there are many, many pink wines out there that are vacuous, boring, sweet, or insipid, and this isn’t that either. It smells of simple grapey strawberries, tastes pretty much like that too, but ends on a stylish pivot towards warm spices and refreshing, palate-cleansing acidity. This might not be the focus of my evening like a great wine would be, but it isn’t detracting from anything else, either.Plus: nine bucks? C’mon, that’s a steal. The Cayus Edith rosé I had last week was nowhere near the wine this one is and cost four times as much; I don’t know of any other sub-$10 wines that deliver as much pleasure as this one.Dominio del Plata