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11th Apr, 2011

Its me...

The Blind Tasting that I went for...

Published April 8, 2011
Pinot Noir thrills and spills



THE Pinot Noir as we love it is the one from Burgundy. Check it out on Wikipedia and you will find that it is grown all over the world - including regions that would never have crossed my mind such as Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine et al.

Excellent German offering: A very welcome surprise at the blind tasting was the excellent German Pinot Noir from Weingut Friedrich Becker (above). Tasted blind, it would not be easy to distinguish this wine as non-French

What is it about the Pinot Noir which has so captured the palates (and hearts) of wine lovers in Singapore? And is it still only that grown in Burgundy that reigns supreme? To learn more about the Pinot Noir grown in other regions we assembled a very mixed bunch of pinot noir wines from all over the world.

The wines were tasted blind - not completely, in that the full list was printed out, but bottles were masked and lined up on a table for tasters to help themselves and taste at their own pace.

1. Pommard 2000, Olivier Leflaive;
2. Pinot Noir 'Case Via' 2006, Tenuta Fontodi, Tuscany;
3. SANKT P**L 1er Spatburgunder 2008, Weingut Friedrich Becker, Rheinpfalz;
4. Carrick Pinot Noir 2003, Central Otago;
5. Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir 2004, Central Otago;
6. Bass Philip Belrose 2000, Bass Philip, Gippsland, Victoria;
7. Pinot Noir 'Treinta y Dos' 2008, Bodega Chacra, Patagonia;
8. Littorai Pinot Noir 2008, Littorai, Sonoma;
9. Pinot Noir 2007, Shea Vineyard, Willamette Valley, Oregon;

A diverse list which covered most but not all the pinot noir wine regions outside of Burgundy.

Overall impressions

The choice of a Pommard to represent Burgundy was deliberate. It is perhaps the one village which produces wines with the sturdiness and big shoulders one finds among hotter-climate Pinot Noirs. Gevrey would be too compact and tight, Chambolle Musigny too delicate, Vosne Romanee too lush, Morey St-Denis not broad-shouldered enough, Volnay too flowery.

It was impressive that all the wines showed good and easily identifiable Pinot Noir character in the bouquet and on the palate. As expected those from the New World regions showed clearly the effects of the hotter growing season in their regions, the fruit being denser and riper, but retaining Pinot Noir characteristics.

What was also impressive was that many non-French wines displayed sufficient complexity to make them not just enjoyable wine but sufficiently intriguing to merit further inquiry.

The overall best wine proved to be Bass Philip's Belrose Pinot Noir 2000. In fact most tasters thought it was French! An extraordinary effort but for those who know Philip Jones, owner and wine-maker of Bass Philip, and his wines, this did not come as a surprise. Here are my tasting notes in the order in which the wines were tasted:

Wine #1: Very good colour, very fresh aroma with good pinot noir character. Very ripe and very pure pinot fruit - raspberries and strawberries. Thought this was New Zealander. Answer: Chacra. 15 - 17 /20

(I had tasted this a month ago and it was then more closed, rather dull. This bottle is much more complex, and more evolved. Admittedly that was soon after it had arrived a few months ago before it had time to settle down after arrival.)

Wine #2: Medium red, beginning to brown. Very pure pinot bouquet, (my notes 'very French'!). Red berry fruit on palate, red strawberries, fresh, good purity, limpid and transparent. French! 18 - 19/20. Answer: Bass Philip Belrose 2000

Wine #3: Brilliant bright red. Not as strong a bouquet than #2 but same character of pure pinot. Very ripe, pure transparent flavour, a little richer than #2, less fruit sappiness. German. 17.5/20. Answer: Friedrich Becker 'Sankt P**L Pinot Noir 2008

Wine #4: Darker red than preceding three. Very fresh pinot nose, good pinot character. Palate very ripe fruit, good acidity and length. 17/20Not French, Italian? Answer: Carrick Pinot Noir 2003

Wine #5: Very good pinot character on nose and palate but hot-climate wine. A little pedestrian though, not as fine as #4. 16/20. Answer: Mount Difficulty Pinot Noir 2004

Wine #6: Medium red slightly browning; bouquet very good pinot character, lots of freshness on nose and palate, very ripe fruit, great purity, only weakness being a little light on finesse. (Thought it was Italian.) 18/20. Answer: Pommard 2000, Olivier Leflaive

Wine #7: Bouquet and palate a little on the heavy side, too heavy to be French. Good pinot character, very ripe fruit, still quite tannic. 17/20. Answer: Pinot Noir 'Case Via' 2006, Tenuta Fontodi

Wine #8: Ruby red, vedry good pure pinot nose. On palate very good pinot fruit character, but not quite balanced, lacking sufficient acidity, a little dull on the whole. 15/20 New Zealand perhaps? Answer: Littorai 2008, Sonoma

Wine #9: Good colour, bright red; very pure pinot noir bouquet, with just a touch of reduction on the nose. Very, very ripe fruit, quite clearly hot climate wine, but good purity of fruit. Not enough finesse. United States? Answer: Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir 2007

Summing up

That the Bass Philip Belrose 2000 should prove the top favourite and thought by most to be French before the unveiling should come as no surprise to those who know and have met Philip Jones. Philip unquestionably makes Australia's finest Pinot Noirs, virtually indistinguishable from the wine it is modelled on - Burgundy. Philip fell in love with Pinot Noir, captivated by the wines of Henri Jayer, ripped out all the cabernet sauvignon in his vineyards and planted Pinot Noir.

The other great (and very welcome) surprise (for me) of the tasting was the excellent German Pinot Noir, Weingut Friedrich Becker's Pinot Noir. Friedrich Becker's estate in the Pfalz is very close to the French border and, interestingly, part of his vineyards lie in Alsace!

Although they produce the traditional German Rieslings, the main enthusiasm of the Becker family is on their Burgundian varieties. Tasted blind, it would not be easy to distinguish this wine as non-French. Certainly it has the purity and the fresh sappiness so typical of French pinot noir. The slight suggestion of being a little thicker in weight is the only giveaway sign but then, it is not easily discernible.

The Pinots from down south, New Zealand, and from the US were good but were clearly distinguishable as non-French and coming from hotter climes. But this could have easily applied to Philip Jones' Bass Philips and yet it did not. I have also in recent weeks tasted the Felton Road Pinot Noir, almost the benchmark Pinot of New Zealand. Good but also quite definitely warm climate Pinot.

What did the tasting show? The most obvious is that good Pinot Noir wines are now being produced, and quite regularly too, in major wine regions around the world - in the old world (Germany and Italy) as well as in the new world, the US, Australia, New Zealand, and even in Argentina.

But most important, that it is possible that sooner or later there will be other winemakers who will have the same passion and single-mindedness as Philip Jones, and produce Pinot Noirs which not exactly be Burgundian but will nevertheless thrill and delight us with their finesse and transparency.

31st Dec, 2010

Its me...

30 books for 2010

Try as i might, I did not make 50 books for 2009. Hence, I am going to try for 30 this year. An improvement from my 23 this year.

"hominem unius libri timeo ~ Beware the man of one book", Thomas Aquinas

1. Invictus: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation, John Carlin
The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde
3. The Qi Book of The Dead, John Mitchinson & Lloyd
4. Brisingr, Christopher Paolini
Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar, Thomas Cathcart & Daniel Klein
6. Eye of the World, Robert Jordon
7. The Great Hunt, Robert Jordon

Currently Reading:
Qiu Xiao Long's Death of a Red Heroine
Getting back to even.

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts,
others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly,
and with diligence and attention.
~ Francis Bacon ~

The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it .-James Bryce1

11th Jun, 2010

Its me...

I want to go to Hogwarts

Muggles Take Flight at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

8th Jun, 2010

Its me...

The Brand New Iphone 4

Well, it has been a while since I posted anything interesting. However, I just need to register that i am extremely excited that the new IPHONE 4 has been announced.

Rumor has it that it will arrive in SG sometime in July... Most exciting...

25th Apr, 2010

Its me...

Karate Kid???

I am a bit appalled that a remake of Karate Kid is hitting the theaters this summer and Jackie Chan replacing Pat Morita as Mr Miyagi...

17th Apr, 2010

Its me...

Wearing the Traveling Boots

Off to Jakarta next week, a prelude to 1 month worth of traveling...
Then the plan is to be off to Penang and Thailand/Bangkok/Pattaya (with tickets booked) in May.

14th Feb, 2010

Its me...

(no subject)

9th Jan, 2010

Its me...

I Knew It!


Its me...

Invictus - A Great Show

Went to watch Invictus this evening. It was really good! 
Inspiring, funny, Great ACTING from both Damon and Freeman.
History all rolled into the movie...


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley

7th Jan, 2010

Its me...

Top Universities in the World

Well... we made it to top 10 in 2009 and for Economics program, Second in the World.. based on the rankings below of course...



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