What’s in the glass tonight October 4th

Thistle Ridge Pinot Noir 2013

Thistle Ridge Waipara Pinot Noir 2013 – $$

A Pinot Noir from Waipara. Planted on the Teviotdale Hills towards the north end of the Valley. Named for a ridge cleared of thistles and planted in vines. Of course.

This is a region most noted (to date) for its Riesling wines, so I’m interested to see how it stacks up. The wine was voted Champion Red at the recent New World Wine Awards. Given the low-ish price point for wines considered for these awards, it should be acknowledged that we are fishing in a somewhat shallow pool.

Pinot Noir is considered a tricky grape to grow and ripen here, and the resulting wine is pricier than, say, Sav Blanc to make. I suspect this encourages producers to lift their cropping levels, ripen more fruit and thus increase wine production, so to get the price down and the supply volumes up to the point where supermarket chains would be interested. As pinot quality is directly influenced by dry extract and careful ripening, it is a careful balance a volume producer must strike.

However, the judges taste blind, and this wine must have shown the goods to win. And further investigation uncovers that this wine is the ‘younger brother’ of leading Waipara producer Greystone wines, whose own Pinot Noir I rated pretty well when I tasted it a while back, and intend to buy for my own cellar. The pedigree is there.

In the glass the wine is very deep pink carmine. 12.5%. Spice and dark stonefruit on nose, with some savoury character. It took 24hrs to open up and lose a metallic aroma, which also influenced the palate, so I would recommend splashy decanting if you want to drink it in one sitting. Not a good look, to be frank. Most supermarket wines are consumed immediately following the shopping excursion, so it should have been primed and ready to go.

After a day’s rest the aroma softened markedly. Savoury and floral characters came forward. Good fruit weight showed to taste, quite sweet and rich, with ripeness galore. Smooth, not dense. A simple wine, and a good return on the $$. Could improve with a year off. 3+

I followed this up the same night with a wine that tasted like it was truly from somewhere else. A startling expression of a foreign terroir:

Plaisir De Merle Western Cape Chardonnay 2011 – $$

Plaisir de Merle Chardonnay SA 2011

I am so used to NZ Chardonnays. It was a surprise to taste my first mouthful of this South African wine from the Paarl Winelands in the Groot Drakenstein Valley. A Meursault-like nose. Rich and buttery and spicy, with toasted nuts. Yum! Not sure really how good it is cos I couldn’t get my head around it. Really cheap at $10 a bottle, so will have another go quite soon 🙂

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