The first part of Friday’s Pinot Noir workshop at Paul Cluver in Elgin involved a sighted tasting of 10 leading South African examples. As the property’s managing director Paul Cluver points out, there’s been a “huge increase” in plantings recently which will inevitably lead to both improvements in quality and a drop in average price. The 2010 Paul Cluver standard bottling at R130 a bottle leads the way. Scores and brief tasting notes below:
Paul Cluver 2010: 17/20
Red cherry on nose and palate. Pure and clean with well-judged oak. Medium bodied and fresh. Technically correct and all the better for it.
Chamonix Reserve 2011: 17/20
Red and black fruit. Concentrated fruit, tangy acidity, mouth-coating tannins. Relatively rich and full – compelling but somehow a-typical.
Crystallum Peter Max 2012: 17/20
Very expressive with extra-ripe red fruit and some musky perfume. Bright acidity and fine tannins.
Bouchard Finlayson Galpin Peak 2011: 16.5/20
Black cherry and notable oak on the nose and palate. Relatively full with bright acidity and quite hard tannins. Very youthful.
Shannon Rockview Ridge 2011: 16/20
Red cherry and quite charry oak on the nose and palate. Good fruit concentration, bright acidity and relatively firm tannins.
Hamilton Russell Vineyards 2010: 15.5/20
Red and black fruit, vanilla plus some earthy, oxidative character. Bright acidity, firm tannins.
Newton Johnson Family Vineyards 2011: 15.5/20
Red cherry and strawberry. Light bodied with a savoury finish. Clean and pure but somewhat insubstantial.
Meerlust 2011: 15/20
Appears unduly developed with earthy, vegetal notes on top of red fruit. Bright acidity, soft tannins.
Oak Valley 2011: 15/20
Very ripe dark fruit plus some forest floor character. Lacks focus.
Radford Dale 2010: 15/20
Overtly reductive. Dark fruit plus some vegetal notes. Lacks purity.
Later in day a chance to re-taste Seven Flags 2009, Paul Cluver’s reserve bottling and while it is very good, it appears so much more deliberate than the standard bottling. One of the hallmarks of great Pinot is that it should have an effortless quality about it.