The blue helicopter swooped down low over La Vierge this morning and for a moment we thought Anthony Hamilton Russell and Olive had forsaken the yacht on the Baltic and flown down to the Pinot Noir event arranged by Marc van Halderen (below). But it was just some tourists dropping by for lunch.
25 Pinot Noirs were presented in four flights: half local and half foreign. From my tasting notes of the local wines it is clear that when Miguel Chan noted “most SA Pinots are released too young” he was certainly correct about the youth with the oldest wine a 2009 and the youngest a 2011. Among the imports, the oldest was a 1999 Corton from Bichot and the youngest an Echezaux 2008 from Duband which was seriously disappointing. Thank heavens for blind tastings!
Present at the event were the brightest and best of the Hemel & Aarde’s winemakers (below), with the exception of the surfing Newton Johnson brothers and PAF who were away on Neptune business. The SA wines showed brilliantly against the (mainly French) imports and confirmed the depth of the field. My favourite was the host’s 2010 La Vierge whose passion for the heartbreak grape confirmed a bright future for the classiest cultivar thriving at the southernmost tip.
1. Chamonix 2009: Fine and intense red fruits, clean and precise nose 17/20
2. Meerlust 2010: Lighter palate, more freshness but on the palate some earthy rusticity 16
3. Shannon 2010: Bacon, tannins, a touch of rubbery 15 minerality and beetroot 15
4. Cathy Marshall 2010: Cheesy, lactic, sour cherries, cherry cheesecake 16.5
5. Galpin Peak 2010: Dense and intense, powerful, very oaky and slight oxidation, tea, sappy, rough tannins 16
6. Hamilton Russell 2010: Light and delicate palate, super fresh, tangy fruit and bright acids 17
1 La Vierge 2010: Dense flavours, sweet fruit, riper, intense and tangy with a sappy freshness 18
2 Sumaridge 2010: Floral, some baked fruits, intense oak character, bit reduced, bit tannic at end, sharp 16
3 Newton Johnson 2010: Very light, sweet strawberries, grapefruit and citrus, airy, persistent 17
4 Domain de Dieux 2010: Candied fruits, candifloss, red currant 16.5
5 Creation 2010: Floral, tannins pronounced sour cherries and tea 15
6 Crystallum 2011: Raspberry, creamy palate, cola nuts, energetic lavender 17
Only one wine was closed with a screw cap (a Coldstream Hills 2007 from Down Under).