12 years later…

Today marks twelve years since I began putting my ravings about wine online. I started off with a bottle of Pinot Noir. It came from Burgundy, naturally, because twelve years ago the decent Pinot one could get in the UK was almost universally from Burgundy. Even though things have changed greatly, there may still be parochial Burgundians, whose horizons stretch only as far as their Swiss back accounts, who still think that Pinot of any quality must come from the Golden Slope.

How wrong they are! Since I started this somewhat Burgundy fetishizing blog, I have frequently reported on Mac Forbes’ (Australia’s most charming man) sculpted, beautiful Pinots from the Yarra valley. They are tits good! In the not too distant past I have written up a number of Todd Hamina’s luxuriant and complex Pinots from the Pacific Northwest. The Editor and I have tried some really lovely Pinots from Germany – a borderline sane friend of ours considers Germany a close second after Burgundy for quality Pinot production. There is more and more quality, really serious quality, Pinot being made outside area code +33 3.

Of course, the quality of Burgundy itself has increased (and increased in price too, already most of the Burgundy reviewed on my organ is provided by friends who are definitely not unemployed lunatics – this worries me and makes me extremely pessimistic about the future of Elitistreview…). However, it cannot be denied that, especially if one is a big enough moronic, rancid fool to decide to go and taste at one of the establishments that tout their wares along the road that goes through all the major Cote de Nuits villages, there is a staggeringly, insanely large amount of utter shit made in Burgundy. The large scale production of emetic wine shames Burgundy’s status as supposedly the world’s most desirably winsome wine region. Indeed, I feel the production of such filth in such a region is an insult to life itself.

It may be true that non-Burgundian Pinot does not often reach the awe-inspiring peaks of Burgundy, but I’ve never had an en vrac-style-Pinot horror from outside Burgundy. And some tramontane Pinot can be awfully good…

Kupe by Escarpment 2001

Pinot Noir ‘Kupe’ 2011, Escarpment

Wow! What a nose! Complex and throbbing with style, yet suavely refined, classy and understated. That understatement makes the nose nitid and highly attractive.

There is a lot of fruit on the nose: cherries, strawberries and could there be something floral to it? These aromas are very fresh and there is very little in the way of tertiary development. Larry McKenna, the winemaker (he is a really top chap, he came and gave a tasting when I was at Oxford), claims this will age for up to ten years. Given its vivacity at the age of six I do not see this being a problem.

There is a touch of peppery spice on the nose, but that spice has nothing to do with new oak, to me it seems an integral part of the rich stoniness that suffuses this lovely nose. The Editor says that, if he were presented this blind, he would think it was a very smart Morey-Saint-Denis – I think that would be a convincing blind tasting argument to propose. One thing is sure, this is the nose of a really soignee wine.

The palate is silken and suave – this is what Pinot is all about! There is no titting about with shit-loads of heavily toasted oak (there is no sign on the palate that this has been aged in 50% new oak). Nor does this suffer from the malady of many premium New Zealand Pinots – it is not made from hellishly overripe grapes that in turn produce wine that is soupy, sickly sweet with excessive alcohol and totally lacking any form of tannic or acidic structure. I hate wines like that and I detest people who make them and buy them. The bastards.

This is a first-rate wine rather than that style of unspeakable premium wine. It has plenty of lively, totally delicious fruit. It is perfectly ripe, brightly fresh fruit that is given an extra touch of life by the pleasingly balanced zap of acidity. Yum.

The acid and a gentle, elegant tannic structure support the fruit in an involute tapestry of delightful refinement. It is terribly complex with all sorts of flavours and textures working you over as you swirl it around your mouth.

Escarpment’s Kupe is precisely what one wants when drinking a Pinot Noir that costs a few quid – indeed its cost of £32.99 (ermmm… about $50) is quite a bargain when the wine is as swish, daedal and good-damned delicious as this. This is not La Tache, but you would have to be a particularly dreary old sourpuss if you drank this without a broad grin spread across your face.


The Editor has provided this link with some extra technical information about this wine.

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