Not one Wine of the Week this week, but two. Two Pinot Noirs, both from Central Otago, both on a similar latitude but on different sides of the river - or what used to be a river but now is a lake. Both tasted with the owners - and the winemakers - and both tasted with food, beautiful food, at top Auckland restaurants. And it is the food that can make or break a wine.
Firstly at The Grove in the city with vineyard owners Misha and Andy Wilkinson and winemaker Ollie Masters - last year we tasted 'The Audition Pinot Noir 2007' - the audition was passed and now we have the 'High Note'.
Misha's The High Note Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 from Bendigo on the eastern side of Lake Dunstan is a deep, savoury smelling wine - savoury with a 'high note' of red fruit penetrating the scent and a hint of anise. The savoury theme continues in the mouth - it's earthy, funky, dense and textural with dark fruits and a more Martinborough-like tannin structure than most Central Otago wines - winemaker input perhaps - although Ollie says that Bendigo is typically like this. And while still a little grainy at this stage, to me this is a good sign for this young Pinot Noir. It has the benefit of wild yeast ferment and oak is restrained compared to last year's Audition while the finish is bright with a hint of cherry and those aromatic spices lingering beautifully. The wine has 14.3% alcohol and is sealed with a screwcap. The price is around $45.
I chose a ballontine of roasted quail stuffed with apple and black pudding on a smoke pomme puree. Quail is something I have not cooked at home, let alone boning a quail and stuffing it! Needles to say it was a beautiful match to the wine.
The wines are now distributed in New Zealand by Negociants so should be available from fine wine stores and restaurant. Find out more from Misha's Vineyard website.
Secondly at Molten Restaurant in Mt Eden with vineyard owner Roy McCallum and winemaker Carol Bunn, the Mount Dottrell Pinot Noir 2007. I learnt that Roy has a long farming background and treats his vineyard a little like a farm, one of his passions being fertiliser trials. Perhaps this is what adds the x-factor to his wines.
2005 was Mount Dottrel's audition year and that was rewarded a 'blue gold' at the Sydney International. The golden touch continued with the 2006 and the 2007 - the most recent vintage taking gold medals in New Zealand as well as one very important one in the UK - the Bouchard Finlayson Trophy for best Pinot Noir (overall) at the London International Wine Competition. And the Mount Dottrel is not even the most expensive wine of the two that the vineyard produces. Well I have to agree with the judges, the Mount Dottrel is more ready than the Mitre Peaks 2007, which costs $10 more, and Neil agreed when I gave him a blind tasting of the two wines that night at home. "I prefer this one," he said. It was the Mount Dottrel.
Mount Dottrel Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007, from the Parkburn area on the western side of Lake Dunstan, has deep purple red hues. The aromatics are alluring and reminiscent of rose petals, smoky oak and hints of bacon. This is a deep, rich, toasty pinot with a dark, savoury character, dried herbs and dried spices too - anise and cake spices - and a dried cherry and cranberry sweetness. It's mostly wild yeast ferment, which does lovely things to the texture in my opinion and has a firm, meaty tannin structure (tender meat naturally) and a chocolatey richness. The wine has 14.5% alcohol and is sealed with a screwcap. It costs from $28 - $30.
The food was deft but light - a mushroom and truffle pappardelle (that's what it said on the menu although I couldn't detect the truffle) a crepe with shredded silverbeet and ashed goats cheese. It was a delight in the mouth and of course mushrooms and Pinot Noir - I can't think of anything better. It's pictured above with the Rose on the left and the Mount Dottrel 07 on the right.
Federal Geo is the national distributor. Find out more from Mitre Rocks / Mount Dottrel website.
© Sue Courtney
23 Nov 2009