Top quality NZ and US Pinot Noirs and Burgundies, with an old Loire to finish

Tinakori Bistro, Wellington
Tasted Thursday, April 17, 2014 by HowardNZ with 209 views

Introduction

Peter Rosback of cult producer Sineann wines in Oregon (http://www.sineann.com/) was in Wellington having finished vintage for his Central Otago and Marlborough wines early. He was keen to try some quality NZ pinot noirs, particularly older ones, at a lunch we organised. Peter generously brought along three of his US and one of his Central Otago pinot noirs for us to try.

We were interested in comparing NZ and US pinot noirs and Burgundies side-by-side and blind. ThierryNZ and I devised a tasting schedule of flights of three (typically but not exclusively one of each of the three types) from the wines attendees brought. We chose Burgundies we thought might compare well with New World pinots. Wines largely popped and poured although all got good air over a long lunch.

The excellent Tinakori Bistro (http://tinakoribistro.co.nz/) provided a great venue and a delicious lunch to accompany ...

Flight 1 (3 Notes)

  • 2009 Mt. Difficulty Pinot Noir Long Gully

    New Zealand, South Island, Otago, Bannockburn

    Colour deep red. A little flinty sulphur on the nose. A lifted, attractive nose of spice, black cherries and black berries that took a little time to open in the glass. Clearly New World on bouquet. Some comments were about volatile elements of the aromatics. A nice, silky smooth entry to the palate. A big, relatively primary wine, resting more on its fruit than its structure. Oak and fine grained tannins not yet seamlessly integrated, a little hard on the back palate. Flavours tending spicy, black cherry. Excellent acids with good intensity. Tasters suggested this as Oregon but this is classic, very good Central Otago pinot noir. A baby that really needs at least 6-8 years, in my view the best of the three SVs produced by Mt Difficulty in 2009. Two evenings later drinking even more beautifully.

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  • 2009 Escarpment Pinot Noir Kiwa

    New Zealand, North Island, Wairarapa, Martinborough

    Colour deep red good colour. A perfumed, spicy nose of red fruit and warm earth, clearly the most aromatic of the flight. On palate, zingy sour cherry flavours with suggestions of game meats and dried herbs. Fully ripe but not overripe. Good structure and real concentration. Suave, fine grained tannins. Lovely savoury long finish. Tasters had this as French (specifically Vosne), suggesting the presence of whole cluster (which I believe is correct). For me, the wine of the flight. Kiwa is a Martinborough SV wine made from 30+ year old vines, perhaps the most Burgundian NZ pinot noir.

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  • 2008 Beaux Frères Pinot Noir Beaux Frères Vineyard

    USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Ribbon Ridge

    Colour lighter red than the other two. Also, dumber nose with aromas of dark berries and earth. An almost sweet entry to the palate, earthy, black fruited and liquorice in the mouth. Clearly New World, very clean and well made, with good integration between the fruit and spicy oak. Tasters picked this as a NZ wine. Good fruit structure and depth, with good length (finishing on a lovely cherry note). To me, a little uninteresting at this stage. On the reveal, Peter said this was very young and could be expected to develop considerably with time.

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Flight 2 (3 Notes)

  • 2012 Sineann Pinot Noir Pisa Terrace

    New Zealand, South Island, Otago, Central Otago

    Colour deep red. Nose more red fruited than black, with some earth and spice. On palate, gorgeous, a big structure, relatively extracted. Sweet fruit, more plum than cherry, finishes on toasty oak. Cultured tannins, good mid palate fruit weight and length. Clear Central Otago signature most tasters picked. On the reveal, Peter mentioned the US pricing, which makes this wine an incredible bargain, due to NZ pinot noir's lower profile in the US. A half to a third of the price you would pay for this region and quality in NZ.

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  • 2009 Domaine Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Combes aux Moines Vieille Vigne

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru

    Colour less deep ruby than the other two. Attractive aromatics largely red fruited - red cherries, raspberries and red currants - with earth and savoury elements. Some tasters suggested some brett, while others saw this as a touch of animale or barnyard. On the palate, svelte and clearly Burgundy with lovely bright acids, tasting more evolved than expected for a 2009. Not very concentrated but sufficient mid palate fruit weight. Flavour spectrum red fruited with underbrush and dried herbs, attractively savoury. On palate, some suggested a little brett, while others again just saw this as interesting animale. Refined tannins and oak well integrated. Good length. A classy Burgundy.

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  • 2012 Sineann Pinot Noir Reserve Resonance Vineyard

    USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley

    Deep ruby colour. An aromatic black fruited bouquet, showing some spicy, vanilla oak. On the palate, this a big, young wine, but with a good degree of balance. Very smooth but heavy texture, a lot of ripe fruit here. The flavours are dark cherries, dark plums and prunes, showing the oak treatment at present. The tannins are very smooth and fine grained. Not high in acids. Once revealed, Peter said that this Willamette Valley pinot is a baby, that needs at least 10 years cellar time.

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Flight 3 - ... French and US Drouhins to compare with a Kiwi classic ... (3 Notes)

  • 2010 Joseph Drouhin Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches Rouge

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Beaune 1er Cru

    Colour lighter ruby fairly deep. Lovely, expressive spicy nose of red fruit and complex aromas, as I recently described. Chris from Ata Rangi pointed out the touch of flinty reduction on the nose, I had not noticed previously. On palate, beautiful fruit with flavours in the red berry spectrum, earth and spice, multifaceted. This poised wine is all class with great structure, acid balance and elegance. It could be perceived as New World, but it is clearly classic Burgundy, with one taster even (correctly) suggesting Côte de Beaune. It paired beautifully with my venison main course. Drinking beautifully now but really should be cellared at least medium term.

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  • 2011 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir

    USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills

    Colour deep ruby. Nose red fruited but appearing a little candied and confected. Not very expressive with an unusual iodine element. Sweet red fruit on the palate, flavours of red and black currants. Good acidity and well balanced, seemingly lightly extracted. with a cleanness of palate, suggesting stones and minerals, improved by the food. A little hard on the back palate. The alcohol seemed higher than the 13.9% alc on the label. For me the Dundee Hills Willamette Valley pinot noir was overshadowed by the French Drouhin.

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  • 2010 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir

    New Zealand, North Island, Wairarapa, Martinborough

    Colour deep ruby. An expressive, spicy nose of warm earth, black cherry, dark rose petal, with savoury elements. On palate, savoury, earthy, spicy black berried flavours, with real elegance. Good mid palate weight, muscular and powerful with real structure. Excellent precision, focus and acids, with good back palate intensity. Everyone has this as a top quality Kiwi pinot noir. Long, finishes on attractive minerality. Signature Martinborough pinot noir from an excellent producer and vintage. Can be drunk now but I'm cellaring 5-10 years.

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Flight 4 - ... a very even flight ... (3 Notes)

  • 2011 Sineann Pinot Noir Reserve Resonance Vineyard

    USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley

    Deep red colour. An intriguing, perfumed and spicy nose packed full of black fruit, figs and liquorice. On palate, there is some sweetness suggested. This is a profound and seriously structured pinot noir with real power, mid palate depth and length. The flavours are black fruits - almost crème de cassis - and game meats. Lovely texture. Tasters suggest Dry River, but most are saying Oregon. On the reveal it is Peter's young Willamette Valley pinot noir, with seemingly plenty of stuffing for many years in the cellar.

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  • 2008 Kusuda Pinot Noir

    New Zealand, North Island, Wairarapa, Martinborough

    Colour a little lighter than the other two. An earthy, dark fruited nose showing aromas dark plums and blackcurrants. On palate, a succulent, earthy wine showing those black fruit flavours with excellent structure and power. Some tasters see the structure and suggest this may be Burgundy, however this is quite modernist in approach. Some stems add complexity to the flavour profile. Rich, but all in balance and quite refined. Long. An excellent Martinborough wine from a very good vintage. Drinking well now but should cellar medium term.

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  • 2009 Bell Hill Pinot Noir

    New Zealand, South Island, Canterbury

    Deep ruby colour. A gorgeous, lifted, high toned bouquet of mainly red berries, with spices and dark flowers. On palate this is an individual, intriguing pinot noir. It has lovely, smooth texture and big structure, explosive power (Thierry sees this as reminiscent of carbonic maceration winemaking) and good length. On the reveal of this cult Canterbury, NZ label, there was a debate about whether this was at its best now or needed another five years or so, with me in the latter camp. Vines planted in 1997, situated at a 1920s limestone quarry, with the winemaking known to be traditional.

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Flight 5 - ... three classy wines .. (3 Notes)

  • 2007 Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 5

    New Zealand, South Island, Otago, Central Otago

    Colour deep red with a dark core. An aromatic bouquet of largely black berry fruit - black cherries and blackberries - with high toned dark florals and some Asian spices, quite brooding. After a sweet entry on palate, this is clearly very serious, quality New World pinot noir. The fruit is very ripe (but not overripe) with lovely sappiness, but with gorgeous acidity. There is great density, depth and structure present, with detailed dark fruit flavours, spice, and minerality present. There is spicy oak present (about 30% new), excellent dusty tannins counterbalancing the acids. A long, lingering finish. Peter said in a very even lineup, perhaps this was his WoTN (we can assume his modesty about his own wines). Drinking even better three nights later, still quite a tight, brooding wine, beginning to uncoil, years ahead of it. Give it at least another three years. Stephen Tanzer gave this wine 94 points, it would be hard to go lower.

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  • 2008 Sineann Pinot Noir Reserve Resonance Vineyard

    USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley

    Deep red. Aromas again in the dark fruit spectrum - dark plums and cherries - and liquorice, also some dark flowers, a very clean and correct nose. On palate, the liquorice flavours hit first, then the core of palate staining mainly dark berry fruits, soil and spices. Powerful with big structure and good length, beginning to mellow. Beautiful, silky texture. Not much acidity. A beautiful, long cherry oak finish. For at least medium term cellaring. On the reveal, a wine of which Peter should be very proud, I think.

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  • 2006 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir

    New Zealand, North Island, Wairarapa, Martinborough

    Colour again deep ruby. A lovely spicy bouquet showing the full peacocks tail. Some sulphides add complexity but are not off-putting. On palate, another big structured pinot noir with all of the components you look for in New World pinot noir. A beautiful, detailed, multi-faceted flavour profile of red and dark fruits, earth and spices, finishing long and savoury. Nicely resolved tannins, good acids, years ahead of it. Once revealed, no surprise here, perhaps the best Ata Rangi pinot noir vintage of the noughties ...

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Flight 6 - ... some older wines to finish ... (3 Notes)

  • 2003 Rippon Pinot Noir

    New Zealand, South Island, Otago, Lake Wanaka

    Colour deep ruby. Pretty aromatics, black fruited - blackberries and dark cherries and plums - and dark florals (violets?). Also some warm earth and underbrush. On palate, very impressive, nice fruit weight and power. Tasted fairly primary (2003 was a surprise), flavours suggesting good use of whole cluster. Subtle oak treatment. Really cultured tannins, well integrated. Sweet, persistent black fruit flavours, with a pleasing vegemite character. Good acid balance. This wine still has some way to go, but drinking well now. This was really impressive. It made me think I should look again at Rippon pinot noirs.

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  • 2003 Domaine Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Combes aux Moines Vieille Vigne Flawed

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru

    Deep red colour. A lovely, slightly exotic Gevrey nose of spicy red fruits - red cherry and cranberry - and some warm earth. However, some cardboard-like aroma suggesting slight cork taint. On palate, good ripe fruit, slightly receding or fading due to the TCA. Flavours in the red berry spectrum - red cherries, raspberries and red currants - with a suggestion of brushwood. Below medium weight on mid palate (surprising for the vintage), soft tannins, with oak present but integrated. The finish clipped a little short due to the TCA. A bit disappointing for this esteemed label. The TCA worsened over the next two evenings, although still drinkable. Unfair to judge this wine on this bottle.

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  • 1997 Dry River Pinot Noir

    New Zealand, North Island, Wairarapa, Martinborough

    Again deep, relatively primary colour. Wow, this is different on bouquet (is it really pinot noir?). Interesting aromas of tapenade or black olive, bacon fat and margarine. On palate some age present. Some tasters had this as their preferred wine of the flight. Others, like me, found it a bit jammy and overripe. Perhaps fading a little on palate, with pruney, margarine-type flavours. But if you get past this there is a dark core of dense berry fruit. An interesting wine lacking pinot noir typicity, tasters familiar with the house had it as Dry River. Overall I thought this wine a little past its best, lacking a bit of structure due to its age. However, 1997 was a major surprise. (Peter said he would have thought this wine was about four years old). 1997 was apparently a lighter, lesser vintage in Martinborough, so for this wine to survive in this form 17 years is some achievement!

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Flight 7 - ... and to finish a special wine from Thierry (thanks very much) ... (1 Note)

  • 1967 Domaine des Baumard Quarts de Chaume

    France, Loire Valley, Anjou-Saumur, Quarts de Chaume

    Colour deep lemon. Oxidation on the nose shows the age, but the bouquet is in good shape: aromas of pineapple, honey, dried fruits, smoke with an attractive mushroom component. Better on palate, glorious in fact! The oxidative element is here, showing age, but great fruit and bright acidity. Honeyed, glycerol flavours, old apples and a hay or straw element. Beautiful Chenin Blanc. Probably drinkable for another 30 years if the cork holds (this one recorked three years ago at the winery).

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Closing

Thanks to all attendees, particularly Peter, for their excellent contributions ...

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