In the beginning there was the word: and the word was “Pinot”

……And then there were quite a lot more words.  About Pinot from Burgundy – and later – in the fullness of time – about Pinot from the USA.   And it turned out everyone had a view.   Amongst the congregation, those views diverged.   So verily, Mark decided to organise dinners.  If not for the masses, certainly for a handful of the parishioners of Pinot.

So: dinners were organised.  And, in accordance with the gospel of Mark (I believe it may have been a different Mark; but nonetheless), there was bread, and there were fish.  (Nota bene that the fish was a starter, because fish and Pinot, generally, do not mix).

The first such dinner featured the (brilliant) Pinot Noirs made by Calera.   And last night’s dinner, an expression of the divergence of views amongst the congregation (!) focused on Rhys Vineyards who, also, it turns out make brilliant wines, especially in recent vintages.  Thus the congregation was united once more.

The wines were as follows below.

2012 Chardonnay, Horseshoe Vineyard from magnum  (93/100)

Very pale coloured.  High toned floral aromatics that hint at mandarin zest.  Lovely, fresh, racy palate with a creamy texture.  (A) ‘Legal Eagle’ insisted he wouldn’t mistake this for Burgundy, but I certainly felt I could have.  Initially it wasn’t especially mineral, later it seemed to tighten up and became more saline and steely.  A good sign, in my books.  Really, really good.

2012 Pinot Noir, Home Vineyard (88/100)

Modest ruby coloured.  Sweet candy cola scents.  Reasonably fresh, with raspberry and brown spice.  Quite good.  (Those of the congregation who had previously exalted the wines of Calera above all others may at this point have been harbouring some sinful sentiments of pride……)

2012 Pinot Noir, Alpine Vineyard (95/100)

……..But in good allegorical fashion, those members of the congregation were immediately taught that “pride cometh before a fall”.  Modest ruby also.  But here there is a fabulous scent: like a bowl of roses or violets, almost Gewurz-ey perfume.   It’s like Turkish delight !   Very, very pretty, medium weight Pinot with very lovely intensity and poise.   I was immediately struck by a resemblance to Mugnier’s Chambolle Fuees.  Truly delightful, dances across your palate with ethereal lightness.

2011 Pinot Noir, Family Farm Vineyard (95/100)

Well blow me down if they can’t make Rousseau-alike Pinot too !   This has a savoury scent that I associate with Grand Cru from Morey or Gevrey…..roasting tin, gravel, smoke.  Or “mango wrapped in pancetta” as my learned colleague Mr Fowler puts it.  More attack than  the Alpine Vineyard, but less floral.  Equally lovely.  This has a beautiful texture too.  Flavoury, smokey, gamey.  And light on it’s feet which is a joy. It tastes like there are some stems in this and it is no bad thing: is that where the savoury nuance comes from ?

2011 Pinot Noir, Bearwallow Vineyard

We mourned the unavailability of this wine.  The lord giveth, and he taketh away.

(Possibly this remained on Mark’s desk.  Or maybe his wife drank it.  Ours is not to question)

2010 Pinot Noir, Family Farm Vineyard (93/100)

A shade darker in the glass than the 2011: is this a function of vintage or a mild tweak in the style of winemaking ?  A bigger wine than the 2011 by far, but not quite as graceful or poised.  Nonetheless you can see the vineyard typicity – or is it winemaking typicity – this also has savoury notes.  Flashy and really, really good.  Velvetty.

2010 Pinot Noir, Bearwallow Vineyard (90/100)

Unlike the rest of the wines here, this comes from Northerly climes: the Anderson Valley to be precise.   This is kind of a bombshell: pretty deep in colour, broad and fleshy, sexy and plush.  Really good Pinot, juicy and meaty, but not in the league of either vintage of the Family Farm for my dollar.

2009 Pinot Noir, Horseshoe Vineyard (90/100)

Thissports an even deeper colour.   Did Rhys extract a bit more – or cold soak for longer prior to 2010 / 2011 ?   If so, I prefer the more recent style which seems to me to display a lighter touch.   Inky scent, deep and sweet.   A dark, long-flavoured powerhouse of a Pinot. Chunky and ripe.  Not totally my style.

2009 Pinot Noir, Alpine Vineyard (92/100)

Also deep coloured, but has more lift and vivacity.   Rather masculine, but also an exciting scent, with notes of heather and spice and roast grouse.  Dark, concentrated and savoury.  On the way to being mature I think.  Very nice.

2008 Pinot Noir, Skyline Vineyard (91/100)

Deep garnet coloured.   Meaty and savoury on the nose also.  Has some notes of Plum pudding and liquorice on the palate.  Fleshy and opulent.  Ready to drink, but no rush.  Tons of slightly caramel-tinged meaty dark fruit.

2008 Pinot Noir, Swan Terrace (93/100)

Coming from a small East facing terrace of the Alpine Vineyard, this stuff, is by all accounts hard to find.  Which is a shame because this is really fine .  I’d particularly like to taste it in 2012: I imagine it would be exceptional.   For me a step up from the Skyline 08 – it just has more lift and precision.  Higher toned, and positively explodes in the mouth with silky, meaty, savoury flavours.   Has real purity and vibrancy.

If you would like to read up on the individual vineyards, which are very diverse in terms of soil type and altitude, Rhys’ website is a great resource.

If you’d like to buy Rhys wines – or Calera, please do drop us an email or give us a call on 020 8560 3200.