This is the last bottle I have from the six Todd Hamina sent me. He did send another bottle of this, that I opened with some friends who were eager to try it based on my rave reviews of his other wines. Alas, it was horribly corked. No such problems with this bottle, thank goodness. I admit to being extremely positive about this wine, not just because I like really fine Pinot (and this is shit-hot Pinot), but because of how I came to taste it and what that meant for me and my relationship with wine. See below.
Before I get to the note, I would just like to thank Todd for what was more than a simple gift of wine. Let me explain. Since my cellar in Burgundy was raided I had been really depressed. So depressed, in fact, that it was a real fight to get excited about wine – something I had been fascinated by since I was four or five.
When I was whining on Facebook about my wine theft for the umtpy-third time and Todd offered to send me some wine to review I was amazingly touched. It must have cost him a pretty penny to ship six bottles of wine internationally, and dealing with the tax implications of shipping wine is always a pain in the arse. So I was cheered up that a winemaker was amused enough by my tasting notes to go to the effort of sending me six bottles.
Then I tried the wines and, good god, they were good – damned good! Not only were they technically well made they all spoke transparently of the areas they were grown in. My frame of reference for Pinot is based on Burgundy. The expression of place was completely different to the Burgundies I am used to, as the origins were not the same, but it was clear they came from specific places – they were truly fine wines.
Being sent six wines from a producer I would never have tasted otherwise and them being really fine, not just things I would have to force myself to be polite about, reignited my love and enthusiasm for fine wine like a Russian nuclear reactor going tits up. I am so happy to have fallen back in love with wine again and so Todd’s gift was more than giving me some wine to review, he gave me my wine mojo back and for that I am eternally grateful. Many, many thanks, Todd!
Now, the note:
Pinot Noir “Caroline” 2012, Biggio-Hamina Cellars
This has a nose of real poise and pulchritude. It is very feminine with a delectable voluptuousness. There are layers and layers of the winsome fruit that this nose displays with a confident resplendence.
Even though this was fermented with 100% whole clusters there is nary a hint of greenness or anything to get in the way of its libidinous fruit. The fruit stands up pertly on the nose for you to revel, wallow and generally get loved up with. I cannot over-state how delicious this fruit is. If you want a silly old world comparison it is more the darker fruit of the Côte de Nuits than the light red fruit of the Côte de Beaune.
But that, of course, is total bollocks. It is neither, it is the glorious fruit of Oregon: rich and fulsome but still refined and classy, complex and stylish.
There is more to the nose than just the fruit, although that fruit is winsome and involute enough to keep me satisfied. There is a rich, deep earthy character that is joyfully svelte and silky. It is also highly attractive.
‘Svelte and silky’ is a good descriptor for this nose. I suspect it has a hint more alcohol than Todd admits on the label, but it is neither hot nor jammy – it is just totally attractive.
If the nose is attractive the palate just kisses you on your bum cheeks before disrobing and presenting a figure that would stun anyone. The delicious, delicious fruit toys with suggestions of excess whilst being elegant and refined at a nec ultra plus[-level.
There is a great earthy richness, that once again is not over-powering, it is simply beautiful. There is enough acidity that makes for a harmonious structure in concert with polished, vivacious tannins. This palate is an entity of amenity and untrammelled comeliness. I am smitten.
The palate strikes me to be a statuesque marble carving, polished to an incredible degree, but on close examination it is etched with runic symbols that convey more information about life, what it means to enjoy it and how you can give it meaning. Is not that what one wants from a fine, no, a great wine? It not only shines with its life and origins, but it tells us something about what it means to appreciate and what the value of a good life is.
This is obviously a great wine, it speaks to the core of who you are. That Todd celebrates his wife with such a profound wine speaks volumes about the depth of feeling he has for his wife and also presents the quality of love we all can feel.
Thank you, Todd, not only for sending me some wines and restoring my passion for fine wine but also for shining a light on a new aspect of life that was previously in shadows.
As an aside, my chum Richard suggested for the price of this wine you could get a pretty decent Burgundy, so why spend the money on this? I have two answers to this:
Firstly, in the US a decent bottle of Burgundy is going to cost shit-more than this. For the home market this represents a pinnacle of quality for the price.
Secondly, this is a shit-brilliant wine that has all the qualities of decent Burgundy, but displayed in a different aspect. If one is interested in trying the best from anywhere in the world I think this is definitely a wine one could be happy buying. I am happy to try wines from anywhere in the world if they meet the criteria of being a fine wine. This was a fucking fine wine.