Yesterday a vertical of Catherine Marshall Pinot Noir alongside four-course lunch prepared by chef Luke Dale-Roberts of The Test Kitchen in Woodstock, Cape Town.
First up, the 2007 and 2008 paired with Asian style beef tataki. Next, the 2009, the 2010 and the 2010 6 Barrels Reserve with confit duck salad with Jerusalem artichoke relish, beluga lentils and truffle and Port jus. Then, the 2001, 2004 and 2005 with pork belly and gammon fillet with Asian greens, apple kim chi and pomme salardaise and finally the 2003, 2006 and 2009 11 Barrels Reserve frozen pine nut parfait, chestnut crumbles, caramelised pear with tonka and yoghurt foam.
Marshall talks of her “journey” with Pinot Noir, each vintage gradually bringing her closer to a sort of enlightenment about what the variety is capable of under local conditions. Maiden vintage of a Pinot Noir was 1997, and initially she was inclined to “take what she could get and make the best of it”. Now she is convinced that Elgin is the ward that will provide her with the fruit most suitable for the style of Pinot Noir she prefers. “It’s cool climate which means a longer hang-time: riper tannins, lower alcohols, better acidity retention”. That Elgin is a relatively new area also appeals to her pioneering spirit. Again, that journey thing…
Her contrast between Elgin and that other local area so closely associated with Pinot Noir namely Hemel-en-Aarde (the wards being Valley, Upper Valley and Ridge lest any of us forget) is intriguing: Elgin makes for more dramatic wines with darker fruit and more earthy/truffle/forest floor character while Hemel-en-Aarde’s wines are more light and ethereal with luscious red fruit.
Wine of the day for me was the 2006 with portions of Stellenbosch, Darling and Elgin fruit. Dark cherry, musk, a hint of earthiness. Weightless intensity on the palate, fresh acidity and firm but fine tannins. Very Burgundian but then must we always measure it against the original canon?