“Pinot Noir is a white wine grape that only makes red wine under special conditions,” contends Peter Finlayson of Bouchard Finlayson, pointing to its use in Champagne and the fact that only 11% of plantings in Burgundy qualify for Premier Cru or Grand Cru status.
Last night a vertical of Finlayson’s Galpin Peak stretching from 1996 to 2006 (no 2000) and including three ringers – examples of Pinot from elsewhere in the world – just to keep those participating honest.
Scores and tasting notes as follows:
Red fruit and subtle spice on the nose and palate. Relatively rich and broad with soft acidity. Pleasant enough but lacking real intensity.
Meaty, spicy nose. Delicate and light bodied with fresh acidity and fine tannins. Ethereal as only Pinot can be.
CIWG Pinot Noir Auction Reserve 1998: 18/20
Pale red, clear and bright in colour. Ripe red fruit and plenty of varietal perfume on the nose. Juicy on entry, lovely freshness before a long, dry finish thanks to firm but fine tannins. Mushroom-like note contributes to complexity. Still remarkably youthful.
Cloudy Bay 1999 (Marlborough, New Zealand): 16/20
Red and black fruit, fresh acidity and firm tannins. Appears rather heavily worked and a bit foursquare.
Hospices de Beaune Beaune 1er Cru Cuvée Rousseau Deslandes Bouchard Père et Fils: 15.5/20
Shy nose. Red cherry fruit, bright acidity, fine tannins. Attractive but lacking real complexity.
Domaine Alfred Califa Pinot Noir 2002 (Edna Valley, California): 15/20
Black with a purple tinge. Ripe dark fruit on the nose and palate. Appears sweet with soft acidity and smooth tannins.
Very advanced on the nose and palate. Pronounced spiciness (coriander). Lacks fruit, rather tart acidty.
Red and black fruit and attractive oak. Good concentration, moderate acidity and fine tannins. Great purity and balance. Still youthful.
Red fruit as well as savoury, spicy notes. Good fruit expression, fresh acidity and fine tannins. First signs of development.
Dark cherry as well as a meaty note on the nose. Full but balanced. Sweet-fruited on entry before a long, savoury finish. Full but balanced with smooth tannins.
Finally, a taste of the current-release 2010 vintage (R245 a bottle) which appeared super-ripe and rather too easy compared to earlier vintages (score: 15/20). During his presentation, Finlayson had alluded to the commercial pressure he now feels to make his wines more suitable for earlier drinking (less new oak for one thing) and it is hoped that this Pinot visionary isn’t forced to compromise too much going forward.