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Signal Hill Pinot Noir 2006 vs. 2007

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Le coq sportif.

Lunch today at the always reliable Jonkershuis restaurant on Groot Constantia for a table consisting of 13 adults and innumerable children. What red to order to accompany mains varying from fine-crumbed hake fillet through burgers to chicken curry?

Super-versatile Pinot Noir was the obvious option but not the Meerlust (no vintage specified) at R325 a bottle as this would no doubt have led to some awkward silences when it came to settling the bill. Other options were the Groote Post Reserve at R198 and the Signal Hill at R188. While I’ve usually been a little underwhelmed by the Groote Post, I have to confess of having absolutely no take on the Signal Hill, the label of maverick Frenchman Jean-Vincent Ridon and so in the spirit of adventure, the latter.

The house’s last bottle of 2006 or the newly listed 2007, asked the waiter. I chose the 2007 based on that vintage’s generally higher reputation and it was an instant hit. Red cherry and some varietal musk on the nose; relatively good flavour intensity on the palate despite being medium bodied and moderate acidity (score: 15/20). It didn’t last long…

Intrigued, we felt compelled to order the 2006. This was pleasant enough but leaner, not as generous as the 2007. Bright red fruit but also a reductive-slash-farmyard note on the nose while being light bodied on the palate (12.5% abv as opposed to the 2007’s 13.5% abv). Not bad (score: 14.5/20) but we kinda wished we’d ordered another bottle of the 2007…

Apparently grapes are from a biodynamic vineyard near Sir Lowry’s Pass Village. Production is small, 1 400 bottles in 2006 and 2 040 in 2007. Most definitely fringe stuff.

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