Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pinot Noir - The Grape of Emperors


Fear is a great word.

It's almost onomatopoeic in its majesty.

And fear is what I encounter every time I uncork a bottle of the black stuff, the great Pinot Noir grape most famous for its Burgundy vintage.

So why fear?

Shouldn't fear be reserved for the 3am knock on the door from the Stasi? No. Not really. Because I know these idiots are coming anyway, at some point. And I know I'm better than them. And I know that they need me and that I do not need them. So even when they come, and even though I'll refuse to speak to these miserable government agents and will keep a straight face, and even if these scum should accidentally shoot me dead with a non-lethal weapon for looking at them in a funny way, I'll still be inwardly laughing at these useless sub-menschen trollops the entire time.

No, I won't reserve fear for the miserable poltroons and the incandescently stupid morons of the socialist state.

I shall reserve fear for opening a bottle of Pinot Noir and the fear of being overwhelmed by that heady organic smorgasbord of aromatics that may surpass the finest Pinot Noir I have previously yet tasted, which happened about 10 years ago in a building in Henley On Thames which has now been 'developed' into a car park. Ah yes, meine kleine lieblings, progress.

That was the room in which I first learned about Pinot Noir and in which I decided to dedicate what remained of my feeble life to finding the finest bottle of said stuff. And here's the rub. For under fifteen quid.

Yes, ye may mock about the price guideline. But I think £15 pounds is enough to spend on a bottle of wine while there are still children in the world who are dying of starvation caused by European and North American farming tariff barriers or being shot to pieces by American hellfire missiles being fired from murderous drones piloted by wonder jocks living it up in Las Vegas. You may be able to find a better bottle for more. (And I have too.)

But for fifteen miserable inflated English fiat pounds, what is the greatest Pinot Noir bottle you have yet tasted in the three score and ten years that your maker has randomly assigned to you? That is the challenge. Let me provide a few alternatives. Can you beat them?

Coney Pizzicato Pinot Noir 2006 Martinborough (£14.99 if you buy two bottles from Mr Majestic)

Majestic Peaks Pinot Noir 2008 Central Otago (a simply unbeatable £9.99 from Mr Majestic)

Oyster Bay Pinot Noir 2008 Marlborough (again, precisely pitched at £9.99)

So, there you have it, sports fans.

Now, you may have noticed a subtle pattern there. You may have noticed a certain lack of French varieties, or of Californian varieties, or of whatever else you may have been thinking of. Well, the French wines are too unreliable and watery, unless you start paying astronomical sums which should be better spent building wells in West Africa, and California is better for the peppery Zinfandels.

It would seem then, that for reasonably priced Pinot Noir, there is only one place to go.

So if any of you tall-poppy cutters down there in NZ are looking to hire a man of fine calibre for a long-term engagement for the South of North Island, then what are you waiting for? Rates reasonable. Business class preferred. I am even happy to swap my miserable English passport for one of your horribly socialist ones, provided that you also let me have 'Goodbye Pork Pie' on Blu-ray. But don't give me 'Once were Warriors'. Seeing that once is enough, as the title implies.

I will even pretend to have been one of the Orcish extras in Return of the King, but only if you refuse to play the bit where Aragorn sings.

Ah, Yes. Pinot Noir. The God-King.

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