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A recent tasting has left David Pike in awe of that naughty, unpredictable variety that is pinot noir. This wine has a nasty habit of performing inconsistently.

PINOR Noir is a very naughty grape variety because it very rarely behaves on cue.

At a recent tasting at Winos in Margaret River it was certainly a case of terrible two-year olds and testing three-year olds in a line up of some of Australasia’s and a few old-world Burgundies.  While a couple of the wines were showing signs of dreaded TCA (cork taint) others lived up to the reputation pinots have for being a difficult variety to consistently get right.

A number of wines simply did not live up to their standing as benchmark wines or show themselves to be worthy of the prices that they command.

What the tasting did show was that the idiosyncrasies of this difficult variety were not confined to the new-world wines.

The old-world seemed to perform as indifferently as the wines from New Zealand and Australia, all be it that there were only a few of them to compare.

Both 1999 Burgundy vintage and 2000 Australasian vintage were considered above average vintages for pinot noir, however, the wines with few exceptions did not light my fire and I was left to turn to my goat knuckle curry for dinner and consolation at the conclusion of the tasting.

When pinot noir is good you can become absorbed in its complexity, its depth of flavour and its alluring nature.

Just one good bottle can keep you searching for another, for quite a long time.

For now I continue my search.

Domaine Dujac Morey  St-Denis 1999 rrp$120            16.75/20

My highest pointed French wine from a Domaine whose wines I took a fancy to a few years ago at the Hiltons Masterclasses.

Light cherry red in colour, some fragrant floral blossom, raspberry almost jammy aromas that displayed a harmonious integration with very smart oak. The palate was quite lively with wild strawberries and cherries, plenty of spice and complementing acidity, the tannins showed a distinctive greenness and were a touch drying.

It was a pretty wine.

Perhaps I was a little hard on this wine, but I know what it is now that it has been unveiled.

Freycinet 2000 pinot noir  16.75/20

First wine of the tasting and a wine that you needed to go and revisit, as it was a pretty good wine that deserved more than the first wine syndrome.

Ripe red berry fruits that showed some vibrancy, smoky oak was quite evident.

Sweet ripe fruits on the palate that alluded towards gamey notes, spicy acidity combined with fleshy green tannins and a relatively long finish if perhaps a touch warm.

Tarrawarra 2000 pinot noir $16.75/20       

Fresh and fragrant aromas with notes of strawberries, raspberries an interesting note of ginger and smoky oak.

Expressive fruits across the palate that showed some sweet, savoury notes with balanced acidity, some green tannins and a degree of complexity running through the wine.

Still relatively tightly packaged and a really pleasant drink from one of Australia’s better pinot producers over the years.

This Monday November 17 the Wine Press Club is holding a champagne tasting from 6pm to 8pm at the Royal Perth Yacht Club, Crawley.

The champagnes selected for the sundowner have been designed to expose members to wines that are in part seldom presented in Western Australia.

It is a range of wines that the club is pleased to show.

Jane Brook winemaker Julie White has kindly agreed to present and speak briefly about her experiences as a sparkling wine maker and lead you through the carefully selected sparkling wines and champagnes.

To whet your appetite I can advise that they will be:

Australian Wines:  Tamar Ridge 1996 ‘Josef Chromy Selec-tion’ Blanc de Noir Pipers Brook Pirie Cuvee 1997

French Non Vintage:             Jacquesson NV

Gosset NV from Magnum

French Vintage:                         Taittinger Vintage 1996

 Billecarte Salmon Grande Cuvee 1990

Pol Roger Rosé 1995

French Prestige Cuvee: Salon Vintage 1988 (from Magnum)

The cost is $45 for members and $55 for non-members and guests.

For further details

send email to Champagne@grapeideas.com.au

It seems each time you take a drive through wine country in WA another cellar door opens up.

Although open for around a year now you can’t miss the illuminating Fox River cellar door facilities as you drive in Mt Barker.

However, it seems that while approval for such environmentally tuned colours have been approved in the Great Southern region, down in Margaret River visual signage pollution is getting a few peoples’ noses out of joint.

Indeed, several large winery signs are in danger of being removed and a number have already been relocated to the barrel room.

So, to make sure you do not miss your favourite winery keep an eye out for the small print.

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