Archive for October, 2010

Let’s be careful out there this weekend

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Three New Cono Sur Organic Wines

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We’ve received a couple of boxes of samples for review from our friends at Vineyard Brands in the last month or so, and because we don’t like to rush through things, we’ve taken our time with them and will be posting our notes in two reports, starting with this dispatch concerning three new selections from the Chilean producer Cono Sur.

As previously reported, Cono Sur has generally impressed us as a winery deserving greater recognition, at least with regard to their whites and much of their Pinot Noir program. They employ sustainable agricultural and organic farming practices, and have maintained CarbonNeutral® delivery status since 2007 , meaning that the CO2 emissions from the shipping of their products have been measured and balanced to net zero through Greenhouse Gas Emissions reduction projects. They make wines in “ranges,” with specific name designations for each; this trio is from their “Organics” range and are certified organic by BCS Oeko Garantie GmbH Germany. Our reservations in the past have been with some of their reds, especially the Bordeaux varieties and blends, which show too much oak for our liking, and these three samples only tend to reinforce previous impressions, both good and not so good. All sell for $11-13.

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2009 Arizona Stronghold Nachise and Other Delights

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An odd thing happened a few weeks ago. We invited our good friend and colleague Rebecca Poling over for wining, dining and a viewing of the documentary “Blood into Wine,” a film that tells the story of how Tool vocalist Maynard James Keenan and winemaker Eric Glomski pioneered “the long road to bringing credibility and notoriety to the northern Arizona winemaking region (Cochise County).” While Kim and I were largely unfamiliar with Tool (an oversight we have since corrected), Rebecca is a big fan, having seen them in concert, so she was especially geeked to see this. We thoroughly enjoyed the movie (I want to watch it a few more times), and highly recommend it to any and all.

When the video had finished, I had chance to check my Facebook page, and to my great surprise, found a message in my Inbox from Monica Seide, who works for Keenan and Glomski’s Arizona Stronghold and Keenan’s Caduceus Cellars, asking if Gang of Pour would care to sample one or two of their wines.

Coincidence, or something deeper, darker and more mysterious?

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No Vintages notes for Oct. 16th



Sadly I was unable to get to London and taste the wines for this and the next release. However, I will have notes up shortly on some stellar Niagara Riesling grown on the Bench. Enjoy the fall.
Cheers
CZ

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New Zealand’s Central Otago-Pinot Noir In-Depth: Introduction

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“Want the inside track on Central Otago Pinot Noir? Look no further. You are cordially invited to attend an E’sensual Pinot Adventure in Central Otago, 29th July to 1st August 2010.”

Click to enlarge - photo courtesy of Central Otago Winegrowers Association. Please visit their content rich site at http://www.cowa.org.nz/

I have a strong appreciation for the wines of New Zealand, and in particular that nation’s Pinot Noirs.  That appreciation was sparked in large part when I attended Pinot 2007, the triennial exploration and celebration of New Zealand Pinot, an event which I reported on at length here on the Gang of Pour.  Since then, I’ve made it a point to sample New Zealand Pinots whenever I can, and I continue to be impressed with the quality and sheer enjoyment these wines provide.  But more than that, New Zealand pinots are really beginning to define a unique style for this most expressive grape—not quite Burgundian, not really Californian or Oregonian in style, either, but a unique style that is only beginning to be defined and which continues to evolve.  And like both France and the U.S., the various places in New Zealand where Pinot grows are each beginning to develop their own unique characteristics, distinct from one another, reflecting the varied terroir that defines each region, and New Zealand as a whole.

So when the invitation above arrived in my email, I couldn’t wait to go.  For this was an opportunity to explore in depth the region that has become the most important source of quality New Zealand Pinot Noir—Central Otago.  There are excellent Pinot grown elsewhere in New Zealand—Martinborough, Waipara, and Marlborough to name the most well-known—but Central Otago has quickly established itself as the leading region for New Zealand Pinot Noir.  And as the region has grown in stature, it is beginning to define itself not just by its regional identity within New Zealand, but by the various subregions that exist there as well.

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New Zealand’s Central Otago-Pinot Noir In-Depth-Overview and Vertical Tasting

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E’ Sensual Pinot formally began on a chilly Thursday evening (this being Winter down under) with an initial overview of Central Otago, given by winemakers Matt Dicey (Mt. Difficulty) and Duncan Forsyth (Mount Edward), at the Mt. Difficulty tasting room.  Much of the information I have related in the other sections of this article was covered, as well as a brief history of the region.  It is remarkable to remember that as far as Pinot Noir is concerned, Central Otago is one of the newest winegrowing regions around.  The first Pinot bottled here was a 1987 made by Alan Brady of Mount Edward, with Rippon following shortly thereafter.  The real growth in Pinot Noir plantings in the area didn’t begin until the mid-to-late 1990’s.  Thus all of the wines in the vertical tasting that followed were made from exceptionally young vines, as well as by winemakers who were just beginning to understand the unique climate and terroir of Central Otago.

At the opening meeting, the following wines from three older vintages were served.  All of the wines came from the Bannockburn region, except where noted.

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Touring New Zealand’s Central Otago Subregions

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The following morning, our tour of Central Otago’s subregions began in earnest. The format for visiting the various regions involved a bus ride to the tasting room of one of the regions more prominent wineries, with a winemaker with experience in the region offering commentary about the region, the wines, and the characteristics that make each respective region unique. There would then be a tasting of several (usually 4-6) examples of “typical” Pinot Noirs from the region (not blind) from the 2007 vintage, followed by a lunch or dinner, at which more wines from the region would be served (usually a half dozen or so), both Pinot Noir and some of the regions white wines (usually dry Riesling and Pinot Gris). I took careful notes on the wines in the tasting portion, but did not take notes on the luncheon or dinner wines, as these were mainly social occasions, with a good opportunity to talk wine with the local winemakers and other participants in the program.

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Conclusion: New Zealand’s Central Otago-Pinot Noir In-Depth

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Click to enlarge - Image courtesy of centralotagopinot.co.nz/gallery.html. Please visit their gallery for more fantastic photos!

For most Americans, only recently cognizant of New Zealand as a producer of quality Pinot Noir at all, the idea of focusing on sub-regions within a single producing region of New Zealand may seem a bit, well, premature, if not presumptuous.  Focusing on ever-smaller and more detailed subregions in the United States is a fairly recent phenomenon, and one that the general public is only just beginning to understand.  While most Americans understand “Napa Valley” or “Sonoma Valley”, it takes a pretty knowledgeable wine-lover to even recognize the existence of “Howell Mountain” or “Russian River Valley”, much less to understand (or care about) the differences in the wines from those subregions.  As for New Zealand, how many people know that there are a good half-dozen regions making quality Pinot Noir there, of which Central Otago is only one?  Does identifying and marketing wines from one of New Zealand’s regions, Central Otago—by focusing on smaller subregions within it—make sense today?

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A Killer Collioure & More

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The following wines were tasted and (mostly) enjoyed with our good friends Anne Keller and Brian Klumpp before and during a delightful dinner of lamb ribs and afterwords, during two rounds of euchre, neither of which went well for Kim and me (we got our butts kicked). All four wines are imported by Vineyard Brands, Inc., Birmingham, AL. As usual, we started things out with a couple of whites, but the star of the night was a lovely Collioure rouge from the Parcé family.

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Alan Kerr’s October 2nd, 2010, Vintage’s Release – Tasting Notes

Lovers of big fleshy juicy wines will be content this month as this Saturday’s release showcases an array of tasty wines from down under. The supporting role in the release is given to Italy. Vintages is bringing some of the countries high end wines to the table.

Wines from Australia.

027383 CHARLES CIMICKY TRUMPS SHIRAZ 2006 Barossa Valley $24.95
First up to the plate is a wine that starts with a ripe fruit laden nose of black raspberry and blackberry, accented with bay leaf, mocha, peppercorn and straw. The palate is rich and chewy while the finish is tight and full of powdery dusty chocolate and a blast of peppery spice. find this wine

716142 ELDERTON COMMAND SINGLE VINEYARD SHIRAZ 2006 Barossa Valley $89.95
Iron, plum skin, milk chocolate and blood along with a massive tier of perfectly ripe fruit may sound like an undesirable combination, but no, this is one stellar glass of wine. It has a rich sweet palate, perfect amount of toasty oak, a fabulous seamless texture and a never ending finish. find this wine

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