Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Winemag Pinot Noir Report 2018 presentation at Idiom

WineMag invited us to join them at the release of the results of the second annual (2018) Pinot Noir Report, to see the top scorers get their certificates and taste the top wines. The event was held last week at Idiom Wine Estate in Sir Lowry’s Pass high above Somerset West and the Strand
The tasting room and restaurant are very modern and the estate has now almost recovered from the devastating fire that surrounded them last summer but which, luckily, didn't touch the building
The Gardens are planted with indigenous plants; this is a Coral or Flame tree
Beautiful views of the Helderberg mountains, seen from the rear
Statue of a man seeking freedom or flight?
and two winemakers emulating his posture: 
Corlea Fourie and Natasha Williams of Bosman Family Vineyards
The side view of the building shows the great terrace
to be enjoyed on warmer and drier days than this
 A welcoming drink...
... of Dainty Bess MCC
A gathering of wine folk: Christian Eedes, Editor of WineMag, Rudi Schultz of Thelema,
James Downes of Shannon, Jacqueline Lahoud of WineMag
Jacqueline gets proceedings started
Next to Christian is Gary King, from headline sponsor Tonnellerie Saint Martin Australasia
The audience
Gary King donates a barrel of choice to the top scoring wine
Christian announced the awards. He has asked this year "Where does Pinot Noir do best in SA?" and it does seem from these high scores that Elgin with its cooler climate and slower ripening, does very well, producing 6 of these top wines, as does the Hemel and Aarde Valley. Most of these Pinots are from grapes grown in cool areas. Only a dozen of the 36 wines entered scored 90/100 or more. Sadly there were some noticeable top Pinot Noir producers missing from the competition this year, we hope to see them entering again next year
South Africa cannot produce Pinot Noir like Burgundy’s but we can and do produce wines with good fruit, structure, distinct personality, length, elegance and excitement. Wines that show excellence in wine making, careful use of wood, ageability and wines that prove that our winemakers can tame this difficult grape

Creation entered two of their top Pinot Noirs, the first was the Art of Creation 2016, which scored 90 points. Grapes are grown in the Hemel and Aarde valley and on the nose there are umami hints with berries and cherries; there is soft sweet fruit on the palate supported by good fruit acidity, good wood giving a savoury note and long flavours, showing this has lots of aging potential
Donkiesbaai 2017 by Jan Engelbrecht scored 90 points, Savour umami nose, lovely velvety deep fruit, it has a dive in quality and is satisfyingly good. The grapes for this wine come from the highest block of Pinot Noir in the country, in Witzenberg on the West Coast
Also with 90 points Nitida 2016 Pinot Noir from Durbanville has some savouriness, with hints of pomegranate and berries on the nose, soft fruit, more savouriness on the palate, then a lovely raspberry jelly flavour develops
Shannon 2017 Rockview Ridge scored 90. It has pretty rose petals and raspberries on the nose; it is silky soft, and begins with sweet berry fruit, elegance and gentle wood, with long and powerful flavour developing in the glass. We have to say that we scored this wine much higher; it was our favourite of the tasting. The grapes are grown by James Downes of Shannon in Elgin and the wine is made, in his inimitable style, by Gordon Newton Johnson
Bosman Upper Hemel and Aarde Valley 2017 Pinot Noir was awarded 91 points. An intriguing nose; this wine has it all, but the nose is integrated, as it would be in France. Soft sweet red berries, some good fruit acidity and gentle wood in the background, with chalky tannins. Made to last by winemaker Corlea Fourie
Scoring 91, the 2016 Ghost Corner, made from Elim grapes by winemaker David Nieuwoudt at Cederberg, is another with those captivating rose petals on the nose, pretty and perfumed with soft berry fruit and delicious with a hint of cream on the berries. Very hard to put the glass down
The Elgin Vintners 2016 Pinot is elegant with light fruit on the nose, good sweet berries at first then fruit acidity brings long flavours; a food wine. It scored 92
Iona in Elgin scored 93 points with their 2013 Pinot Noir, the most mature wine in the line-up. It still has young and fresh fruit on the nose. Softer on the palate with good dark toast wood, dark berries and some chocolate
Richard Kershaw scored 93 with his Elgin Clonal Selection 2017 Richard has made a classic South African Pinot Noir, fruit forward with long deep raspberry flavours, and lots of aging possibilities
Stonebird Pinot Noir is made by Gavin Patterson, now resident in the UK. It’s from Walker Bay grapes and scored 93 points
The Sutherland Elgin Pinot Noir 2015, made by Rudi Schultz at Thelema, scored 93 points and was another of our own top wines. Those beautiful rose petals and raspberries on the nose, a lovely mouthful of both, with some necessary crisp fruit acidity and warm alcohol. Very moreish. Another to keep or to drink immediately!
From Creation in Hemel and Aarde, the top scorer with 93 points for The Art of Pinot Noir 2015. Elegant nose, with incense wood; on the palate raspberries and tayberries, nice chalky tannins, long flavours. This sparkles with liveliness on the palate
Collecting the top award: The choice of barrel from sponsor Gary King of Tonnellerie Saint Martin
was awarded to Winemaker Gerhard Smith and Dieter Odendaal from Creation
All the top scorers together
Winemaker Gerhard Smith of Creation chatting to winemakers
Werner Muller of Iona and Daniel Keulder of Nitida
Some of the delicious canapés that were served. We, sadly, were so busy tasting the Pinot Noirs that we did not get much time to try these, but those we did have were superb. The deep fried dim sum wonton dumplings had a lovely crispness with a soft filling of minced chicken
The tiny tartlet was filled with a purée of artichoke with a drizzle of truffle oil; perfection when matched with Pinot Noir
Tiny fresh vegan bites wrapped in courgette
James Downes with André Morgenthal of the Old Vine Project

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