Quinta de Sant'Ana Pinot Noir 2014, Lisboa

With today's post my absolutely non-disturbing Pinot-dependency is getting more and more obvious! I really must be totally Pinot-driven! Well, to most of you this won't be real news. Anyway, but who on earth is drinking Pinot Noir from a wine country with such a rich and diverse bounty of grape varietals like Portugal??? This, or something like this, must have been on the mind of the clerk in a rather well known wine shop in Lisbon a couple of weeks ago when I explicitly asked for all Portugese Pinot Noirs they have. Perhaps he even had something a bit more "graphic" on his mind. Well, I surely would have deserved such thoughts. Ok, let's stop this Pinot-induced-paranoia and conclude with another filling anyway … Today's Pinot Noir is my third from Portugal in total. The first one was the remarkable Casal Sta. Maria Pinot Noir 2011 a bit north-west of Lisbon. And there was Niepoort's slightly tricky Projectos Pinot Noir 2011 from Douro region. Today, I am back in Lisboa. Round about 30 minutes north of the Portugese capital the Quinta da Sant'Ana produces an assessable range of wines made from quasi locals like Verdelho, Alvarinho or Touriga Nacional as well as "aliens" like Merlot, Pinot Noir and Riesling since the year 2004. The grapes for my Pinot Noir were culitvated on steep slopy calcareous-clay soils in a quite cool hill region just about 12km from the Atlantic Ocean. The grapes were hand-picked, partly crushed by traditional foot treading in Lagares and macerated before allowing natural yeasts to begin the fermentation in stainless steel tanks. The subsequent one year ageing took place in used French barriques. And here we go. Pinot No. 3 from Portugal ...


Biu de Sort Negre Pinot Noir 2015, Costers del Segre

INOX and Pinot Noir aren't a very fashionable combo these days, I think. Well, at least in case of sincerely mentionable wines of certain quality. Living in south-west Germany I am perfectly aware that there are plenty of Pinots which were fermented and aged in stainless steel ... and possibly even heated-up in steel. I really don't want to get into details. It's just too sad ...Today, I would like to refer to a respectable Pinot which were simply kissed by cold steel. I have to admit, I don't know many. On a recent trip to Barcelona I had the pleasure to encounter such a respectable one. The Biu de Sort Negre 2015 produced by Batlliu de Sort in the small Catalan wineregion of Costers del Segre is one nice example that Pinot from steel can be pretty enchanting. First, let me tell you something about Costers del Segre. I assume that not every wine geek on the globe is all too familiar with this relatively new wine region (DO was est. 1988). Costers del Segre is located in the province of Lleyda in the very west of Catalonia. It is a rather scattered region which stretches out over the entire central west of Catalonia (approx. 4500 hectares). The climate of the region is somehow extreme. In winter it is getting easily below 0° C. In summer equally easily over 35° C. Heavy rainstorms (aka snowstorms), droughts, hail and spring frosts are well know as well. The soils of the region are dominated by meagre dark lime soils. So were the vines for the Biu Negre 2015 cultivated on calcerous soils at an elevation of approx. 850 m above sea-level in Sort - Pallars Sobirà (right next to Andorra) which is by the way already in the high Pyrenees. Fermentation took place in large INOX deposits and subsequent ageing in INOX took about 10 months. Let's have a look how this Pinot made in steel was ...


Egon Müller Kanta Riesling Balhannah Vineyard 2008, Adelaide Hills

Fo woin friens who arn't veryy familiaa with the Aussie woin speectrum thiis one myght be quoit a surproiis! Ohhh no ... okay, okay I stop my pathetic (and probably quite offensive) attempt to sound like a local. Sometimes it is really hard to find a good start - and you simply come up with bonkers ideas! Today, I most certainly failed! Anyway, the first time I've heard of this Kanta Riesling - it must be about seven years ago - it surely was a big surprise to me. Egon Müller - (one of) the biggest name(s) in the Riesling business – better try to delete the words in the brackets – producing Riesling in the Adelaide Hills in South Australia!? Okay, it is not like that Egon Müller himself is managing the every day business of this project. This Kanta (= sanskrit for beloved) project is actually a joint-venture between Egon Müller from the sacrosanct Scharzhof in Saar Valley and Adelaide's Michael Andrewartha of East End Cellars. So, the main responsibility for today's Riesling was in the hands of Michael. The actual Balhannah Vineyard though belongs to the well known Shaw & Smith wine company in Balhannah. A third party. The soils of the vineyard are dominated by sandy loam over red clay and are set about an average altitude of 420 metres. Spontaneous fermentation and long maceration were also on the agenda. So, let's have our first sip of this very interesting project Riesling ...


Two Paddocks Winery Picnic Pinot Noir 2012, Central Otago

Remember movies like The Piano, Jurassic Park or The Hunt for Red October? What do these pictures all have in common? Any idea? Well, if you have good eyesight and look at the admittingly tiny photo above a bit closer you might recognize a gentleman. The gentleman to the left. Of course the one on the label, not the one in the background who seems to take his Fido out for an early morning walk in Kensington Gardens. This very gentleman is the - let's say - „unifying dimenson“ with the name: Sam Neill. A still very well known actor from New Zealand who started the Two Paddocks winery as proprietor in 1993 near Gibbston in Central Otago by planting 5 acres of Burgundian Pinot Noir clones. By the way, you can check out his true passion for Pinot Noir in a number of really funny clips on the winery's website. Now back to history: About the same time his friend Roger Donaldson planted another vineyard right next door. Hence the name for the winery was born: Two Paddocks! Since the late 1990s production increased significantly. Since then Two Paddocks produces up to five Pinot Noirs (depending on the vintage) each year. Since 2003 Two Paddocks also produces two Rieslings from Red Bank vineyard in the Alexandra Basin in the south of Central Otago. From a European perspective the true end of the wineworld! A part of today's entry-level Pinot Noir from 2012 with the well fitting name Picnic comes also from this very southern area around Alexandra. The grapes for the Picnic were harvested by hand, up to 85% were de-stemmed and were given a 5 to 7 days of cold maceration. Fermentation on skins with indigenous yeasts took another 5 to 7 days. Afterwards the Picnic was aged for 10 months in 1 to 4 year old French medium toasted barriques. Well, let's have our first sip of this very very distant Pinot Noir ….


Alma Valley Pinot Noir 2014, Crimea

Finally! Pinot from Crimea! Took a couple of years … well, at least in non-bubbling-condition. Thanks to a good friend - Большое спасибо Лена – this wine sopped challenge has finally been accomplished. Unfortunately, this time I won't be able to provide you guys with equally trottering and cheesy reminicent anecdotes like from Australia the other day. Simply because I've never really been to the very East of Europe. Something I desperately have to fetch up with, I suppose. Back to matter on tongue! Alma Estate was founded the first decade of this very century. The actual privatization of agricultural land in Crimea took a bit longer than in other regions of Eastern Europe. The winery is situated in Bakhchisarai area on the western foothills of Crimea a bit north-east of Sevastopol. The climate of this area can be characterized as mild mediterranean, with moderate influence of the Black Sea and good ventilation by sea breezes. Summers can be quite hot. However winters can be strikingly cold which can be a rather tricky from time to time. The soils range from brown loam in the elevated areas to the limestone and marlstone vineyards of the riverlands. This particular soil is know to the locals as "white-eyed clay". With help from Swiss and German experts the actual professional wineproduction started from 2005 to 2008. So, it is a quite new project. Today, Alma cultivates a very wide range of well know European varieties on round about 160 hectares. My Pinot Noir from 2014 was fermented at controlled temperature in both stainless steel and oak tanks and was partially aged in oak barrels. Enough of my dry blather! Now it's time for some serious drinking ...


Ocean Eight Pinot Noir 2010, Mornington Peninsula

It's been quite a drought around here, right?! What an outrageously lazy period without Pinots from distant places or other mildly extraordinary wines from regions somewhere around the globe. More than a months?! Really!? I hardly can look in the mirror! For the future I do vow not to give in such to sluggishness again … I hope ...
To make up for this ignominy I'd like to send my tongue all the way down to Australia onto the beautifully scenic Mornington Peninsula south east of Melbourne. Well, at least I think it was scenic. I've only been there once. Then, well intoxicated with a horrific hangover induced by cheap Shiraz based fizz and shaken by a bumpy and awkwardly chatty minibus ride down a coastal road. Both of which might have blured my memory a bit. In short, I wasn't well … at all. Not to mention the subsequent ferry ride across the bay ... Anyway, I digress! As always! The frequent reader probably got used to my constantly deviating thought processes. Back to the matter on tongue! Today's Pinot from the vintage 2010 was produced by Michael Aylward from Ocean Eight vineyard & winery in Shorehame on the south-east coast of the peninsula. Michael started his winery in 2004 were he and his team cultivate varieties such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and even some Pinot Gris. Mornington Peninsula. The vines for today's Pinot were palanted in 1999 and standing on up to 65 meter high sandy loam vineyards facing north-west. The grapes were picked by hand and underwent fermentaion froid for a respectable long period of four to six weeks. Useing natural yeasts ... of course. After that it was aged for about 12 months in 15% new barriques and three to four year old 500 litre barrels. So let's give it a go ...


Mouton Noir Lieu-Dit Pinot Noir 2011, Willamette Valley

Aufgrund einer in dieser Jahreszeit häufig auftretender Heimsuchung bin ich momentan dazu verdammt eher über Wein zu schreiben als ihn eigentlich zu trinken. Naja, es könnte mich sicherlich schlimmer treffen, zumal es bei dem heutigen Wein visuell äußerst amüsant zugehen dürfte (seht selbst auf dem Foto ;-)). Endlich hat es meine Zunge mal wieder nach Oregon für etwas „Pinot weit weg“ verschlagen. Seit 2007 produziert der in den Vereinigten Staaten recht berühmte Sommelier André Hueston Mack unter dem Label Mouton Noir (sein eigener recht zwiespältiger Spitznahme) unterschiedliche Weine aus verschiedenen Regionen in Oregon und mittlerweile sogar Washington. Die Karriere des gebürtigen New Yorkers entwickelte sich so, wie man sie wahrscheinlich nur in den USA durchleben kann. Sein Weg vom Investmentbanker hin zum Chefsommelier in Thomas Keller's The French Laundary in Napa und weiter zum Grafikdesigner mutet ungewöhnlich erfrischend an. Aber jetzt zum Wein. Beim Lieu-Dit von der Garage-d'Or handelt es sich um den Mittelklasse-Pinot von Mouton Noir. Sein Traubengut stammt aus der ältesten Lage die Mouton-Noir in Oregon zur Verfügung steht. Und ausgebaut wurde er in gebrauchten französischen Barriques. Mal sehen wie er sich so gemacht hat ….


Happy New Year and Marie-Courtin Résonance Champagner Extra Brut, Aube


Well, as you can see for yourselves … a bit dull this time, right? Just Champagne? Nothing weird? Nothing exotic? Can't I don better? Cause I could! Sometimes I just have to surrender to my inherent laziness ... to have something really good, I guess! And by the way this stuff wasn't that dull at all!!!  I just love this Marie-Courtin shit! Not just this Extra Brut Résonace made from 100% Pinot Noir without sugary dosage. I love all the others as well! Even the Blanc de Blanc stuff ... which I am normally not so much into! Yesterday the Résonace showed a very vital and almost sturdy mousse. I must have got myself a recently disgorged bottle. The nose appeared very filigree, nicely accentuated, mostly flowery, however very well equippted with some shy brioche, a whiff of ginger and fragrances which reminded me of mild almond stollen.The fruitful components appeard more yellow citrus'y and packed with red apples. Pretty much the same sensations on the palate. Can't elaborate more properly ... hangover issues, I guess. Anyway, everything was very lean, a hint too juvenile zippy, nevertheless quite seductive and downright zero-dosage-style resolute. Plenty of very crisp and smile-inducing Pinot characteristics, too. Hellishly vivid acid (in a downright positive sense), overall quite elegant and even a bit elevating (sorry for my unusual pathos)! Again, very resolute, vitalizing, very clear, very precise, super crisp and totally sans make-up! Doubtlessly a very decent ***** start into the new year! Let's hope it will be better! At least the starting fizz was much better ...