Thursday, September 28, 2017

The WineMag Tonnellerie Saint Martin #PinotNoirReport 2017

What does the future of Pinot Noir in South Africa look like? Very bright, given the results of this competition. This difficult grape to grow is the fragile diva of the wine world; she refuses to be tamed and keeps changing her clothes. If correctly handled she can be superb. The judges in this competition termed it "The most romantic grape". We do have to take into account that Pinot generally needs a cooler climate, she is thirsty and we have a drought. But we were so impressed when we tasted the top wines in this competition this week
This Noble grape has reached such heights in Burgundy that Pinot Noir is aspirational in many other wine areas of the world and some do indeed produce rather excellent examples. South African Pinot was first grown on Muratie in Stellenbosch by George Paul Canitz in 1927 and they are still making it. Canitz worked closely with Professor Perold on the Pinot Noir and we all know where that ended up when Perold crossed Pinot with Cinsaut, which resulted in Pinotage. And some old Pinotages do show Pinot Noir characteristics. Now that we have the correct clones, the popularity of this wine has grown
There are two distinct styles of Pinot Noir in South Africa. Dark and extracted, lots of wood, minerality, heavy tannins, dark berry fruit; these are built to be long term wines for putting down. The style we prefer is the elegant style that is supple and textured; with perfume and pure red berry fruit, good minerality and the wood supporting but not overwhelming
The Awards were held nearer to some of the producers this time, in Somerset West at the Proof Wine Bar in Drama Street
What? You again? Christian Eedes Editor or and Derek Prout-Jones; a former Rand Merchant Bank executive, he is a minority shareholder
A happy crowd, mostly Pinot Noir wine makers
Jacqueline Lahoud, WineMag’s Business Manager, begins proceedings
Next to Christian Eedes is Garry King of Tonnellerie Saint Martin, the sponsor of these awards. The top scoring wine wins one of their 228 litre barrels
Phones and cameras at the ready
Garry King of Tonnellerie Saint Martin from Lot-et-Garron in France
Christian Eedes told us that there were 52 entries from 33 producers the largest line-up in recent time, (Growing and making Pinot is becoming popular). They use the 100 point system of voting and 14 Pinots scored 100 points or more; the average score was 88.1. They included two Burgundy ringers in the group to keep the team on their toes. The spread of growing areas is intriguing: four from Elgin, two each from Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge, Napier and Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley and once each from the Ceres Plateau, Hemel-en-Aarde Valley and Stellenbosch as well as a multi-regional blend, The Fledge & Co. Katvis 2016, made from a combination of Langeberg and Klein Karoo fruit. There are no prizes, only certificates and kudos, unless you get the top wine; then you win the French oak barrel
The top wines were as follows:
Creation Reserve 2015
Dabar 2014
Dabar 2015
Newton Johnson Family Vineyards 2016
Paul Cluver Seven Flags 2015
De Grendel Op die Berg 2014
Shannon Rockview Ridge 2015
B Vintners Reservoir Road 2016
Creation Reserve 2016
Hamilton Russell Vineyards 2016
Newton Johnson Walker Bay 2016
Oak Valley Sounds of Silence 2015
The Fledge & Co. Katvis 2016
Vrede en Lust 2016

90 B Vintners Reservoir Road 2016 has a typical Pinot nose, sweet soft fruit, chalky tannins, good fruit acid and light toast
90 Creation Reserve 2016
With violets and incense wood on the nose, wild berry fruit, silky, long flavours and only whiffs of oak wood at the end, with soft chalky tannins
 90 Hamilton Russell Vineyards 2016
A very French Burgundian nose, sophisticated. Very wooded, with licorice and chocolate predominating at the moment, a hint of salt, with shy fruit. Needs lots of time
90 Newton Johnson Walker Bay 2016
Raspberries and strawberry fruit on the nose and palate, with a hint of salt, nice soft supple tannins, a juicy food wine with great balance
90 Oak Valley Sounds of Silence 2015
Their entry level Pinot. Smoky wood, nice sweet and sour fruit
90 The Fledge & Co. Katvis 2016
Shy raspberry fruit, salty drop liquorice and good minerality
90 Vrede en Lust 2016
Pale in colour, mulberry cranberry lots of fruit and vanilla oak on the nose. Some lactic flavours, deep red and black berries, warm and long
91 De Grendel Op die Berg 2014
Dusty at first then pretty fruit and some strawberry ice cream on the nose. Silky soft on the palate with lots of sharp berry fruit, with dark toast on the end
91 Shannon Rockview Ridge 2015
Classy, quite French on the nose. Sweet berry fruit with some crispness and good tannins. Built to last and improve. Wood supports
92 Dabar 2014 grapes from Napier. Made by Rianie Strydom. Stewed plums on the nose, intense fruit and wood in concert with a dark ending
92 Dabar 2015 Wood and shy berries on the nose. Chalky tannins, crispness, dark cherries and plums, ends dry. Needs time.
92 Newton Johnson Family Vineyards 2016
Perfumed fruit, cherries, raspberries and soft smoky wood. Light fruit, long flavours, chalky tannins with a bit of grip of the end. Complete
92 Paul Cluver Seven Flags 2015 The big boy of the bunch. Complete nose with all the right components. Elegant. Perfume, berries and cherries and incense wood all beautifully integrated. Soft tannins; a food wine
93 Creation Reserve 2015 Herbal fynbos incense wood on the nose, with cherry fruit. On the palate silky soft, warmth from the 14% alcohol, huge fruit, nice soft chalky tannins, some grip and oak wood on the end
Jean-Claude Martin of Creation with his two certificates. His wine was the top scorer in this competition for which he received the 228 litre Tonnellerie Saint Martin barrel
Dabar was new to us, this is their back label
Generous platters of food were brought round after the presentation

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