What I liked:
Although the tasting was a bit of a roller-coaster, some of the wines in this year’s Pinot Noir Masters were superb.
The Sparkling Blanc de Noirs, albeit a style not everyone loves, were generally good to very good, although the very best are ridiculously expensive.
With regard to the Oaked wines I was pleased to see that most producers are becoming more and more circumspect with their use of new and high toast oak, no more splinters! I found quite a lot to like among the oaked wines in the £10-15 price bracket. Of course, as expected there were some wonderful wines above £30: complex, layered, textured with concentrated flavours and fantastic balance.
There is some value to be had. Many of the Under £10 unoaked Pinots, showed succulent red berry fruits, fine texture and nicely balanced tannins, acidity and alcohol. Not in any way disappointing at that price point. And among the Oaked wines in the £10-15 brackets there were a number of gems with supple structure framing attractive fruit and a kiss of oak adding dimension.
What I didn’t like:
The £15-£20 and £20-30 wines were surprisingly variable in terms of quality. And origin didn’t seem to correlate particularly well with quality. I certainly couldn’t pick out a country or region that was a brilliant star or a complete failure. In both price groups, there were some rather delightful examples, showing purity of fruit, delicate touch and complexity, but also a few real duds, not really acceptable at these price levels.
In this tasting Pinot Noir showed its true colours. Like the little girl in the nursery rhyme, ‘When they were good, they were very, very good; When they were bad, they were horrid.’ Word to the wise Pinot drinkers: Do your homework and taste before you buy.