Pegasus Bay 2011, Pinot Noir — Memories and Whole Bunch Fermentation
Wine is all about memories of place and experiences that have brightened our lives. We drove in, surveying the impressive architecture of the winery and restaurant situated north of Christchurch in the Waipara Valley of New Zealand. Relaxing at a table on the outdoor terrace, I can remember the feel of the place more than the food and I recall the utmost delight in a wine worthy of a moment that celebrated the completion of one of my books. Emotions kept morphing into more complex feelings; calm led to peace of mind, while the colors in the gardens stimulated moments of excitement and delight that faded again into the calm of contentment. Just as expected the emotions are the essence of the easily and oft recalled memory. Trees and grasses edging a large lawn waved gently in a cooling breeze. When the wine had been consumed we walked the Impressive gardens and longed to linger or spend the day in such refreshing surrounds. “Wine is emotion in a glass” and the emotions of the place mingled with the tasty Pinot Noir.
The 2011 Pinot Noir that sits on my desk being evaluated comes from a vineyard on a stoney north face (warm in the southern hemisphere) and ideal for stressing the vines when necessary. This is a fertile valley overall, but the soils can vary from limestone to rocky gravel beds.
Whole bunch fermentation can be tricky, but it was used for a lot of the grapes in this wine. The whole bunch — grapes and stems — are fermented together. The stems add bulk to the tank (usually an open fermenter), allowing the juice to drain more easily through the mix and oxygenate the wine well. The tricky part is that the stems can add too much harsh tannin to the wine and unless the grapes are really ripe, it becomes a “hard” wine. This was a warm summer that produced very ripe, rich grapes, so the method was well chosen. The alcohol reveals the ripeness at 13.8%. The result is a wine that is full, round, and rich with well married flavors. Dark cherry and blackberry dominate with cedar, vanilla, and smoke adding big depth to the wine. Strawberry hides in the background while the wine finishes smooth and without any faults on a very long finish.
Emotional rating: The memories affect my biased rating, but I enjoyed the depth of this Pinot and would suggest a rating of great pleasure. It needs no food but could enhance a pork dish and both food and wine could rise higher.
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