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Pinot Noir: Burgundy and Southern Hemisphere

by Tom Cannavan, 11/97

Not really a "France Vs The Rest", although many of the wines on tasting made interesting comparisons being similar ages and similar prices. Breeding will out, and without a shadow of a doubt the 2 Grand Cru wines, from excellent domaines, stood out from all the others. Nice surprise was the Gould Campbell vintage port at the end.

Green Point (Yarra Valley, Australia), Blanc de Noirs 1991 - £11.99
(Moët & Chandon's Australian outpost) Golden yellow colour. Very yeasty nose, nice toasty, biscuity aromas. Slight edge of overcooked fruit on the palate, mousse very thin. A bit fiercely acidic which rasps in the finish.

Glen Carlou (Paarl, South Africa ), Pinot Noir,1996 - £6.99
Bright carmine red colour. Slightly medicinal nose, a little raw, but nice red fruit and subdued oak too. Rather astringent on the palate with again a slightly medicinal quality. Medium bodied. Fruit struggling a bit to show through. Drying tannins. Finish a bit short.

Stoniers (Victoria, Australia), Pinot Noir 1995 - £9.99
Deeper colour. Very high, green, woody nose. Bitter cherry and plum skins on the palate with a distinct green edge. This wine isn't right. Bad wood I think. (supplier is going to open another bottle and report back).

Vavasour (Marlborough, New Zealand), Reserve Pinot Noir 1994 - £12.99
Nice medium ruby red colour. Quite backward on the nose, but sweet fruit showing through. A little bit bubble-gummy. Medium bodied, very soft and seductive with a little bit of chocolate richness. Tannins rather swamp the finish.

Fery-Meunier, Pommard "Les Tavannes" 1995 - £13.99
(Fery-Meunier is a new collaboration involving Alain Meunier of J.J. Confuron) Dense ruby/crimson colour. Quite a flowery nose of soft violet aromas. Firm as it strikes the palate and a little bit grapey. Tannins evident but fine. Might soften with ageing, but currently lacking fruit.

Jayer-Gilles, Haute Côtes de Beaune 1995 - £13.99
Extremely dark, velvety, deep colour. Quite a high toasted oak nose with some blackberry fruit and sweetness too. Richly spicy and highly toasted/roasted flavours on the palate. Very full, velvety and rich with a prickle of acid and spice in the long finish. Extracted and powerful, a bit loose, but serious stuff which might improve.

Jayer-Gilles, Haute Côtes de Beaune 1994 - £13.99
Much lighter colour. Quite a charcoal/burning embers note to the nose. Quite refined, with good integration of tannins and berry fruit with a nice smoky edge and soft oak finish. Complete and lovely to drink at the moment, though maybe not very profound.

Fery-Meunier, Pommard, 1er Cru "Les Pezerolles" 1995 - £17.99
A lot of colour but rather thin. Reticent nose. Cherries and smoke. A lot of soft tannins overpowering any fruit but quite full and luscious with a long tannic finish. Solid if uninspiring.

Fery-Meunier, Pommard, 1er Cru "Les Epenots" 1995 - £19.99
Much deeper, purple tinged colour. Dark aromas of licorice and coffee on the nose. Very nice lush, ripe, cherry fruit slugging it out with oak and tannin. A bit rough and peppery in the finish but with good length. A bit of a bruiser. Decent.

Ata Rangi (Martinborough, New Zealand), Pinot Noir 1995 - £17.49
Lovely deep, velvety colour. Vegetal, stinky nose that subsided quite quickly. Hints of cowshed and sweet, menthol notes too. Very rich and quite complex palate with burnt sugar, charred oak and sour cherry fruit. A big, fruity, dense mouthful with good tannins and a nice acid structure making itself felt right in the finish. Very good.

Méo-Camuzet, Clos de Vougeot, Grand Cru 1993 - £34.99
Deep crimson edging towards black. Big smoky nose with a great depth of fruit and toasty, oaky, barnyard aromas. A lovely engulfing caramel richness to the nose. Round and warm on the palate with coffee bean richness and a fine, velvety texture constrained by fine tannins and a tight acid structure. This only asserts itself in the finish which is long, pure and concentrated. An iron-fist-in-a-velvet-glove sort of wine and very good indeed.

Jayer-Gilles, Echézeaux, Grand Cru 1992 - £46.00
Colour is deep and even. Caramels and toffee on the nose. Deep, round and fruity. Astonishing intensity. Very voluptuous, complex and powerful. Sensory overload. A big rich wine, but feminine too with a generous, open texture and very pure fruit. Good tannin integration. Excellent length. Lovely.

Gould Campbell Vintage Port 1985 - £19.99
Thrown in as a nice little bonus. Ruby red colour and gorgeous chocolate, sweet, fudge nose. Quite a blast of raw alcohol on the palate before rich and luscious sweet fruit takes over. Broad tannins dominate the finish, and again it is rather grapey. Good, rather than great.