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John Farren

Meeting 343 -"Pinot Noirs"

Friday 15th April 2011     Neville Hall, Waltham St Lawrence 

Speaker:   Paul Champness of Ellis of Richmond

        Paul outlined the properties of Pinot Noir as a mildew prone, thin skinned grape that grows best in cooler climates. Typically, outside Burgundy, it is grown in the west of the USA in Napa Valley to Oregon in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southerm Hemisphere, Otago in New Zealand, Tasmania and some areas of South Africa and Australia (eg Yarra Valley) are in the early stages of using Pinot Noir. Germany, also has some limited planting.
        The openiong fizz, from Argentina, was a very pleasant, fresh, easy drinking wine with plenty of lemon fruit which was ranked quite highly by the members.
       The first Red, from Stratford on Avon, proved to be rather lightweight and too acidic. By contrast, the Kaiserstul had full raspberry fruit and a long finish; no doubt the result of a slow 4 weeks fermentation on the skins.
       The Wairau River had full berry, almost sweet, fruit and a long finish. The Roaring Meg, while having a 'meaty' nose and plenty of soft berry fruit was not so long. Grapes for this wine were bought in from several local producers and selected to produce a range of wines. Having no oak conditioning, the Devils Corner from Tasmania was a softer with well balanced damson fruit and a long lingering finish.
       The only qestion raised by the Giorgio Odero was 'is this truly Pinot Noir?' With a vegetal nose and bags of fruit, it could well have from much further south of Italy. It also had the classic Italian mouth refreshing acidity on the finish. Hopefully, it's early days for the Rio Pajaros from Uraguayan vineyards cooled by winds from the Atlantic. The liquorice and peardrop nose belied the over-extracted fruit which gave a wine that can only be described as 'rough'. By contrast, the Schroeder Patagonia Select, produced from very young vines,which while well balanced, was a rather lightweight wine. Paul thought that the future wines from this Bodega will improve as the vines age.
        Altogether, the wines presented a wide range of different characteristics and demonstrated that Pinot Noir is a hard grape to produce consistent quality wines. (Even the Burgundians have to admit that sometimes!!)

       The food consisted of an excellent Chicken Casserole accompanied by Dauphinoise potatoes and green beans, washed down with Sol Y Sombra, PN Reserve from the Central Vally, Chile. To finish, we had a very moreish fruit tart with custard. (JF)

The Wines:

Aperitif: Saurus Patagonia Extra Brut, Schroeder, Argentina 9.96 7
(1) Welcome Hills, Warwickshire, England 2006 14.28 5
(2) 'Kaiserstuhl', Karl-Heinz Johner, Baden Germany 2007
21.18 7+
(3) Wairau Riverwines, Marborough, NZ 2009 10.92 7+
(4) 'Roarong Meg' Mt Difficulty, Central Otago,NZ 2009 13.20 8
(5) 'Devils Corner', Tamar Ridge Winery, Tasmania 2008 10.98 8
(6) 'Giorgio Odero', Oltrepo Pavese, Frecciarossa, Lombardy 2007 22.68 8
(7) Rio Pajaros, Pisano Family Vineyards, Progreso, Uruguay 2008 10.38 5
(8)Patagonia Select, Familia Schroeder, Patagonia, Argentina 2007 10.38 6+
Supper Wine
Sol Y Sombra, Central Valley, Chile 2009
8.10 Not Scored