Readers of my recent notes will be aware that I cannot afford to buy the fine Burgundies of the type that graced this organ not so many years ago. I have been looking for a region that provides the quality and pleasure of the Cote d’Or and not demand I sell a kidney in order to get something good.
For a while I was convinced that Central Otago would be my new dream location for sourcing the beautiful grape. I have had mixed results. A few of the wines have been very nice. However, the majority have been absolute crap. Moreover, most of the wines, be they good or bad, are really rather pricy. I am trying an expensive Central Otago Pinot today, if it is good I will continue exploring Pinots from that region. If it is bad I will not bother buying any for a while.
The other wine that I am trying today is a German Pinot (known in Germany as Spatburgunder). My excellent chum Lyle Fass has been saying for ages that German Pinot has moved on beyond the thin, insipid oak-juice I routinely tried when I was trying to explore Spatburgunder about 15 years ago. Lyle recommended this as a good wine to start with if one wants to explore German Spatburgunder. It was only €18 retail so I will not be too upset if it is horrible.
Let us start tasting Pinot!
Pinot Noir “Liaison” 2016, Enderle & Moll
This wine is made from young vines of Enderle & Moll’s serious vineyards and some quality fruit from lesser vineyards. This is frequently described as being the village-level wine in the Enderle & Moll line up; above their generic Pinot Noir and below their more serious vineyard and old vine cuvees.
Shitting fuck, it smells amazing! Lovely perfumed, floral characteristics intermingled with perfectly ripe strawberry fruit. It is simply lovely, you cannot help but be smitten when you stick your hooter into a glass of this.
The perfumed, scented, floral characteristics are really lovely. Between the four of us tasting this we discern lavender, violets, rose and ‘all sorts of other really nice things’. It is a highly attractive, really delicious and utterly desirable. It is like the distillate of all the nice things on a nose of Dujac Morey-Saint-Denis!
Intermingled with that are some really lovely fruity aromas. Definitely strawberry and raspberry, but perhaps a touch of cherry as well. Does this not sound supremely delicious?
As I swirl it in the glass those aromas grow and a rich earthiness develops as well – those flowers and fruit need something to grow in I suppose! All of this is deeply pleasing.
The nose shows no new oak; if any is used on this wine it does not show it in an overt manner. It is also not sweet due to alcohol. It is only 12.5% and whilst this is a hint below my ideal level for Pinot it does make the nose very pure and elegant. Yes, it is very elegant.
I cannot think of a Burgundian village-level wine that retails for €18 that is so refined, beautiful and god-damn complex. Yeah, complex with knobs on, this is a real stunner.
As I have a big mouthful to taste it I get extraordinary amounts of sweet, perfectly ripe, clean fruit on the tip of my tongue. The sweetness of the fruit is, again, nothing to do with the alcohol-level, it is just the pure finesse of ripe Pinot. Is Pinot Noir not the most beautiful of red grapes?
As I chew this around my mouth there is good, vivacious acidity – it keeps all that pure, ripe fruit fresh and lively. It also keeps the svelte, silky tannic structure fizzing with energy and imbuing a wonderful balance and harmony to the palate.
It is certainly distinctly complex. There are more complex wines, but they do not cost €18! The silky tannins give a grippy, taut character to the finish and a tumultuous, exuberant cascade of fruit and flowers flows along and exits your palate leaving a profound sense of happiness and well-being. It goes on and on.
Emma’s Block Mature Vine Pinot Noir 2013, Rippon
‘Mature vine’, you will note! Not ‘young vines’ or ‘old vines’ but ‘mature vines’ – surely that is ‘perfectly ordinary vines’? Still, nice to know that a £56 retail (mine was a gift, phew!) wine is made from a single vineyard of unremarkable vines.
This nose smells of stewed cherry jam, yet the claimed alcohol is only 13% – how can this be? I am told that a reasonably standard practice in Central Otago is to let grapes get so ripe that sugar crystalises on the outside of the skins so super-saturated is the sugar density inside them. They then fermented this super-ripe fruit to whatever crazy alcohol-level this can get to.
Now Central Otago has a reputation as a fine Pinot region that produces balanced, harmonious wines – how can this be produced from the acid-free firewater in their fermentation vats? The answer is simple! Allegedly, the trick is to dilute the alcoholic fruit stew with some acidified water. Simple! Unbalanced, over-ripe fruit jam with no acidity and too much alcohol gets turned into a balanced, moderately alcoholic dilute jam mixture! My source for this little winemaking bit of trickery did not name perpetrators, but I wonder if that is the practise here at Rip-off Unremarkable Vineyards Winery.
So it smells of jam, what else? Well, not much else really! All other characteristics that the wine might of shown seem to have been ripened out of it. Thrills. A woefully simple nose that they are charging £56 a pop for!
The palate is an explosion of dark cherry jam fruit, harsh acidity and over-extracted tannins – this bugger has been squeezed until the pips squeak!
The clumsy addition of acid has not resulted in balance, the acid is disjointed and completely unharmonious. Since a lot of the tannins would have been ripened too soupiness in the skins, their apparent solution is just to squeeze the bleeder as hard as the laws of physics allow. The harsh tannins from the pips are utterly disgusting.
So I do think my supplier has been ripped off by this Rippon. The only redeeming feature we could find was that we could stop drinking it. I hope I never have to drink such a thing again. Deary me…
Why cannot Central Otago Pinot Growers just harvest a bit earlier and make naturally balanced and harmonious wines? This adding acidified water to over-ripe fruit is just awful.
Carrick Bannockburn Winery Pinot did not seem to rely on this woeful technique
Hello David. I’m catching up with your notes after the summer. V interesting as always. I will seek out some of these German Pinots that you have been enjoying!