2015 Holm Oak Pinot Noir, Tasmania - £24.99/bottle, 2 for £45, £7.50/glass. A full-bodied and bodacious Pinot from the island of sheer crazy down Australia way. “Nunc est Bibendum” as the label says, and I definitely think it is about time to have a drink!
I’m definitely a fan of vintages where the fruit shows more clearly, and this beautiful Pinot with it’s lifted perfume really sings. This wine has beautiful lifted strawberry and cherry characters on the nose with a touch of spice adding complexity. The palate has fine, chalky tannins, lovely fruit concentration and a silky texture. I’m fed up with winter, cold, drizzly rain – I’m up for larking about with something lighter and a little more Spring. This came around just at the right time.
Perfect to celebrate it being March, and great to escape March Hares without having to become a Tasmanian devil. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
2015 Harewood Estate Chardonnay, Western Australia - £23.99/bottle, 2 for £42, £7.00/glass ….which sentence launches me by freakish chance into the next wine. Harewood Estate Chardonnay is a new kid on the block for me, looking for a little bit more style and sensitivity than the archetypical Australian Chardonnay. It’s a fineliner rather than a sharpie pen, a rapier to a broadsword. This being said, it’s still a wine with body and richness developed by eleven months in 50% new oak. Don’t be alarmed – this is a good thing. The oaking definitely supports and maintains the palette of stone fruits and honeydew melon leading to a creamier rounded mid palate of peach, vanilla and roasted nuts. Enjoy lingering over in the early afternoon wan sun, the remains of a roast chicken on your plate and the warm glow of the fire spreading within. Super stuff.
So. If I kept a diary, an entry back last month would have been “this week I sat down and wrote a wine course.” Apart from patently and shamelessly untrue – I’d barely begun to put pen to paper in a week – it would also make for the worlds more boring of diary entries.
For example, Byron: ‘To-day I have boxed one hour - written an ode to Napoleon Buonaparte - copied it - eaten six biscuits - drunk four bottles of soda water.'
How does one compete with that?
On the surface – alright, it’s not the world’s best line. However, having written the course we thought it best to set it into motion – so last night went charging ahead. Lesson One.
And, between a few bottles to loosen our minds and turn our thoughts against phlegmacicity, we looked at…
What is wine? Three definitions given by the class got increasingly more precise – “Stuff you drink” became “alcohol made from fruit” to “alcoholic drinks between strengths of 5.5% and 15%, produced from the grape vine.” Which I accepted, deducting marks for spelling punctuation and grammar.
How much does it cost and why? A slightly more taxing question for those who enjoyed the Sottano Cab Sauv, a slightly easier one for those still on the French Rosé! No, one part in being fluent in a subject is knowing what you are talking about. And so at the beginning of this course I wanted to make sure that people understood why some bottles cost more than others, and what their hard-earned dosh is going on – and why buying more expensive bottles means better wine.
Where does wine come from? We glanced at a map, argued why China produced so much of the good stuff – and why don’t we see it – a billion thirsty Chinese seemed an obvious answer – and got back to the nitty-gritty of what fermented grape juice we had available, and what different sorts were like.