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Monday, 5 April 2010

Emiliana Reserva Especial Pinot Noir 2007 - Laithwaites

An Emiliana PN from Laithwaites

Finding good Pinot Noir is never easy - it is an unusually tricky grape to grow and vinify, and I have had more bad Pinot Noir than good; a low-yielding, thin-skinned grape, prone to mutation, it demands cool climate conditions where it becomes susceptible to late frosts and disease. Its spiritual home is Burgundy, but increasingly it is being grown successfully in areas that are cool due to latitude (central Otago, Oregon), maritime influences (parts of California and Marlborough) or altitude (Chile and Argentina, where the vineyards are up to 1,500m above sea level).

However, when it does grow well, it produces a wine like no other with flavours of red berry fruit, hedonistically decadent aromas of truffles, game and farmyard and a gloriously smooth texture. Elusive, moody and yet capable of a unique greatness, Pinot Noir is said to be the wine of poets, visionaries and romantics - albeit ones with deep pockets.

This example comes from Laithwaites and was part of a "mystery case" (a random selection case sold with a minimum 1/3rd discount against the list prices of the wines included) which I bought at Christmas time. The list price of this wine is £10.49, but the "mystery case" discount brings it to an implicit price of £6.99.

We are still working our way through the "mystery wines" (starting with the more basic wines) and so far they have been a bit hit-and-miss, with a relatively small number that I have really enjoyed and would buy again, several that have been generally unimpressive and the rest being pretty inoffensive but equally unmemorable.

However, for Easter we decided to break out one of the more serious wines and, as we had a leg of lamb ready to roast with garlic and rosemary, decided that this Pinot Noir might be just the thing.

The wine hails from the Casablanca valley, a prestigious sub-region of Aconcagua, which is mainly a white-wine area, being near the coast and therefore subject to cooling breezes which extend the growing season and lead to a more complex wine. That said, this is a 14% wine, so it's no delicate shrinking violet.

It is quite dark for a Pinot - presumably due to the elevation and those sea breezes again - so there's no mistaking this for an old world red Burgundy. On the nose there is plenty of rich bramble fruit, with more fruit and vanilla on the palate, hints of cedar and pencil shavings with a touch of toasty jamminess, good complexity from oak aging (8 months in French barrels according to the Emiliana website) some slight earthiness - which is typical Pinot - and a long, smooth velvety finish.

Tasting blind, I might struggle to spot this as a Pinot - it's darker, richer, jammier and less earthy-truffley than a typical textbook example, but it is extremely full of flavour.

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