Home > Uncategorized > Year of the Black Cone

Year of the Black Cone

So first and foremost I should say a happy new year to one and all. I hope Christmas bought plenty of good grub and fermented grape juice? It seems ages ago now since that festive period where the pubs are crowded, the shops are an ‘avoid at all costs’ zone and where the good and the great come together and toast the big man…

…Yes it seems far too many of us were too enthralled in the X Factor this year that we forgot to pay thanks and homage to the real big man – Mr. Pinot Noir! I don’t know about you, but the Malyon household consumed plenty of this over Christmas, and even had ABC Pinot Noir (cracking Californian winery – appeared in Oz and James Wine programmes). It’s one of those grapes that can make a plethora of diverse styles of wine, from super light, to super complex; although not so much rich and big, but complex none the less.  I decided before that I would suggest the family drinking this with the traditional Christmas fare – the reaction was good and I think it was due to the fact that everyone was open for me to choose the wine – which helps!  We had a few more Pinot’s during the course of the week that were all different and really showed the pure mix of quality found in this grape variety.  Lots of talk of Burgundy already this year; claims of an outstanding vintage are being chucked around like a Turkish Hooker!  It also just happened to be Burgundy week this week (just passed) and so the trade were out in full force tasting the crème de la crème of the juice coming from Burgundy.  I tasted a few samples (Red Burgundies) and it is very, very good – already!  They are still so young and many will go on for years, but some are drinking exceptionally well now.  St Veran are also offering some very good whites at the minute too, albeit I am still to take part in some extra curricular ‘research’ to confirm my suspicions!  Staying on the Burgundian tip, the head honchos of New Zealand wine have stated that there will probably be another 2 years where oversupply of wine will continue to be of a sore point.  The vineyards will lose their value and grapes prices are unlikely to rise in the near future as a result, which to be fair, they have dealt with this very well.  However, with this being a constant source of frustration for NZ given that, and I quote “low price private label wines now account for five of the top ten best selling New Zealand wines in the industry’s largest export market, the UK”.   This is a pretty hefty statement and one that sends quite a message.  I think this is the perfect time to really advocate kiwi wine, and for us to be ambassadors for what is (for me) the most interesting, diverse and consistently good wine making country in the world.  You only have to ask people what white wine people drink; many of us will say a good Sauv Blanc and not always a Sancerre either, a New Zealand example are so common, because of their unique taste and absolute consistency.  Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc – pungently aromatic and explosively flavoured wine, its zesty character is redolent of green capsicum (bell pepper) and gooseberry with tropical fruit overtones.  What a tasting note that is to sum up a style of wine. That makes me salivate at the thought!  Such is the quality and reliance on this that plantings have grown from 4,516 in 2003 to 12,336 in 2010!  The trouble with having so much to choose from, and so many brands (be they big brands or small private labels) is that many get lost in the whirlwind of ever increasing parcels of wine landing in the UK.  That said, it is still relatively easy to work your way through some. I tend to have a price point in my mind (this is usually about £6-£9) head down to my local ‘offy’ and take a plunge and choose a different one every time.  A couple of  goodies I have tried recently that I can recommend are:

Saint Clair Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc – £9 RRP and Stephendale Sauvignon Blanc 2009 – £6.99 RRP

Stephendale Sauvignon Blanc

Remember as well that Kiwi Sauvy has been around for quite some time now, so really we are entitled to have a level of expectancy of them, and almost a dependancy on them to produce the goods on most of the juice they export to us.  The first planting of SB was back in the 70’s in Auckland, then in 1976 it found its spiritual home in Marlborough – its is now, unsuprisngly the country’s most planted varietal.

Can I now quickly talk to you about my favourite of them all, up there with my dear friend Malbec is Pinot Noir, and NZ do it best by a friggin mile!  For those of you on Twitter, I responded to a message that wine journalist Jamie Goode said “Kiwi Pinot is remarkably consistent isn’t it?” I responded by basically saying that although it is consistent, it can get a bit ‘samey’ at time, and I kind of regret saying that.  I knew what I meant at the time but ultimately, there is so much diversity there, that it never gets ‘samey’.  Take 2 examples. Brancott Estate pinot Noir (formerly Montana) is very light, not complex, easy and kind of ‘acceptable’ in a good way.  Compare that to the wines that Phil Sexton produces (Giant Steps and Innocent Bystander)…yes I know that they are made in diffferent ways and the scales of production are as similar as the guile and subtlety of a gazelle and the lumpy Jesuschristness of Anne Widecombe (Gawd Bless er cotttons!).  However, this explains well the kind of thing I mean.  The taste and smell goes beyond comprehension with the latter, whereas as the former doesn’t – diversity personified!  In my opinion the best PN comes out of Central Otago in the South Island, where the southermost vineyards in the world are found.  The UK, Australia and the USA take nearly 80% of all NZ PN exported, making it highly popular, profitable in many cases and highly regarded.  So much so that it betas red Burgundies for me in terms of consistency of flavour, longevity and reliability.  Many in the trade agree with this, which says a lot for the kiwis vs. the heritage and sheer historical resonance it has with the wine world. They got it right I tell ya, and they will keep on going for years to come!  My current faves floating my boat at the moment:

Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir 2009 (aka ABC) £20 RRP
Beaton Track Pinot Noir 2009 £9.99 RRP
Beaton Track Pinot Noir


So you have probably gathered that I am really going to be advocating NZ wine this year, as well of course as my constant push to get people out of the supermarkets and into the local merchants.  Just before I start a bit of a ‘campaign’, I want you to answer a  question in the poll below, just so that I can gather a bit of traction on what you peeps think.  So if you don’t mind, take 10 seconds to vote.
Until the next time then…wine is fun,  fun is wine drink it young and when you dine.  Cheers!
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