I’m on hiatus this week spending some much-needed time with visiting family.
In the interim, my heart goes out my intrepid friends and colleagues in Napa and Sonoma enduring the wildfires. You will prevail. No doubt. #WineCountryStrong.
I leave you with a few images from two top-tier Reserve tastings I tippled through this past week, both showcasing stellar New World pinot noir and chardonnay.
The first, a 20th Vintage Vertical Tasting of Central Otago’s Felton Road at San Francisco’s Farallon Restaurant featured winemaker Blair Walter, who teed up four different flights before lunch, then continued the barrage of brilliance throughout a gorgeous four-course luncheon. In full disclosure, I arrived in time to taste through the final two flights of pinot noirs, (I missed the new releases and chardonnays) and had to depart after the second course. That said, genius attracts notice, however fleeting the encounter.
Generally speaking, the 2011-2015 pinot noirs from Cornish Point and Calvert vineyards sported clarion ruby robes, lean bodies, pristine fruited aromas, animated acids, keen minerality, and a lingering finish.
The final flight, however – 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010 pinot noirs – proved heart-stopping in their grace, elegance, and finesse. Bouquets varied from stewed red fruits in Block 2003, to barnyard notes in Block 3 2005, leather notes in Block 3 2007, savory hints in Block 5 2009, and sous bois in Block 5 2010. Burgundy-inspired indeed.
Noble of tannins, seamless in structure, haunting in finish, these Felton Road reserve pinot noirs merit inclusion among the pantheon of finest Burgundians in their quality, complexity, and age-worthiness.
More to follow about specific tasting notes, variations in soils, microclimates, farming, and production techniques of Felton Road.
Link to my two-part series in Palate Press on Central Otago wineries here:
The second Reserve tasting, Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association’s annual Pinot Paradise at Pasatiempo Golf Club’s Hollins House, offered pours from local legends like Big Basin, Mt. Eden, King’s Estate, Mindego Ridge, and Windy Oaks Estate Vineyards.
A post-tasting Technical Session also featured Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards, Equinox & Barolo Winery, Silver Mountain Vineyards, Thomas Fogarty Winery, and Cooper-Garrod Estate Vineyards.
You’ll be hearing more about these local wineries in future posts, but the undisputed stand-out of the event was Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association show of support for Napa and Sonoma through #CAWineStrong.
This tasting marks the first in my focus on Affordable Burgundy + Beyond. Here, I taste through a bit of ‘beyond’ – Pinot Noir and Chardonnay-based bubbles from South Africa.
If Champagne has a soul sister, it may be Méthode Cap Classique. Specific to South Africa, Cap Classique employs the same “traditional method” used to make Champagne, whereby the second fermentation occurs in bottle.
A key figure behind establishing South Africa’s Méthode Cap Classique sparkling wine is Pieter “Bubbles” Ferreira, cellarmaster at Graham Beck Wines in Robertson. Champagne-trained, South African inspired, Ferreira favors an elegant, crisp ‘house style’ that compliments the region’s diverse cuisine.
These tastings notes compliment a recent Skype interview I conducted with Pieter Ferreira hosted by Wines of South Africa. Please look for the forthcoming interview here later this summer.
Authors Note: I was delightfully surprised to meet Pieter at IPNC this past weekend, and can vouch that he is every bit as effervescent as his wines.
Wine: Graham Beck Brut Méthode Cap Classique Sparkling Wine (51% Chardonnay, 49% Pinot Noir)
Each first Friday of every month through 2016, I’ve invited some of my fellow wine writers the opportunity to join me here on binNotes | red thread™ to share a feature on some rare, obscure, or under-appreciated wine region for which they feel a special passion.
I hope you enjoy their stories as much as I do.
Guest Writer Series | № 3| Erika Szymanski on ‘The Joyful Paradox of Non-Icon Wines and New Zealand Chardonnay’
This month I turn the page over to Erika Szymanski, academic researcher at University of Edinburgh, writer, graduate student in science communication with a focus on wine and the wine industry at the University of Otaga, and author of The Wineoscope, a site about ‘Wine science, wine rhetoric, and other geekery.’
Today, Erika shares the joyful paradox of non-icon wines and New Zealand chardonnay…cheers!
“Everyone makes chardonnay. Chardonnay is therefore ubiquitous and boring. Everyone makes chardonnay. Chardonnay is therefore endlessly diverse and interesting. If you like chardonnay, you’re never going to run out of wines to try, and with just a little effort they’re all (okay; mostly all) going to taste different. Read more…“
Story and photos reprinted by permission of the author, Erika Szymanski.
Copyrighted 2016 binNotes | red thread™. All Rights Reserved.
Did you know that May 21st is Chardonnay Day in the Bourgogne (Burgundy)? Now an international event, Chardonnay Day celebrates all things Chardonnay. And while the event got its start six years ago via social media in California, the history of the Chardonnay varietal starts in the Burgundy wine region. Read more…
Care to share? Feel free to leave your comments below.
Local negotiants assist in the barrel selection each March at the annual Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges wine auction, which also includes a luxury chocolate fair, music, and half-marathon. | Images: Courtesy Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges.
Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges wine auction benefits the hospital, some of which dates back to 1633. | Images: Courtesy Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges. | Images: Courtesy Hospices Nuits-Saint-Georges.
The bell tower of Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges, | Images: Courtesy Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges.
Held each March, the Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges makes up for in attitude what it lacks in media attention. This year, the 54th Annual Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges takes place March 14th & 15th, 2015. Activities include a fitness-friendly semi-marathon, luxury chocolate festival, exclusive tastings and dinners, and a wine auction at Château du Clos de Vougeot. Proceeds benefit Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges and the ELA Foundation.
Every year, wine aficionados travel from throughout France, Europe and the United States to the Cote d’Or for a chance to wave their paddles over more than 100 barrels of premier and villages cuvées. While most proceeds fund the hospital, one barrel benefits a designated charity. Bidders employ the expertise of local negotiants to steward them through the process, from tasting, to auction, to élevage –the ‘raising up of the wine’ to final aging, bottling, unique auction labeling and shipping.
Each barrel roughly equals three hundred bottles, or approximately twenty-five cases of wine, important facts to consider when working out the logistics for final delivery of the finished wine.
Founded in 1270 by the sisters if Hotel-Dieu in Beaune, Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges moved to its current site in 1633; remnants of the original structure remain. Originally built to care for lepers, over the years the hospital expanded to aid soldiers, respiratory patients and others in need. Currently, the 132-bed public health facility caters primarily to the elderly.
Throughout its benevolent history, grateful locals have donated to the Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges. The estate today comprises 12.4 hectares, including choice parcels from within the wine communes of Nuits-Saint-Georges, Primeaux-Prissey, Vosne-Romanée, and Gevrey-Chambertin. Planted mostly to pinot noir, the estate does include a few acres of chardonnay used to craft a small amount of premier cru white.
Moreover, the addition of an updated cuverie in 2002 ensures enhanced productivity methods and increased quality levels.
It’s no secret that as the price of Burgundy soars, more and more wine collectors consider Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges an attractive alternative to the pricier Hospices de Beaune wine auction. All the more reason to enjoy the fun – and wine – while Hospices de Nuits-Saint-Georges remains relatively obscure!