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Hoopenburg Pinot Noir stands the test of time
For wine enthusiasts young warm climate Pinot Noirs have a marked depth of flavour but without the acidity of ...
Hoopenburg Pinot Noir stands the test of time
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For wine enthusiasts young warm climate Pinot Noirs have a marked depth of flavour but without the acidity of cooler climate ones whilst young cool climate Pinots, whilst refreshing, might often lack nuance.

But what of older vintages?

Conventional wisdom is that Pinot Noir does not usually age well.

Wine writers frequently allude to the fact that warm climate Pinot Noirs, think California and our own South Africa, should be drunk within four to five years. But does this square with reality.

Having recently tasted a well aged Burgundy whilst in France I can attest to the fact that the one I tasted which was 15 years old, was excellent. Pale in colour with a lovely bouquet with cinnamon and leather it tasted fresh and very satisfying.

This rather long preamble brings me to a recent vertical tasting I conducted of 3 Hoopenburg Pinot Noirs. These were tasted alongside each other so my panel could revisit each for comparative purposes.

The three vintages were 2002, 2004 and 2006. I invited a tasting panel of 9, not professionals but enthusiastic 40 plus year old. My thinking being that whilst I too would be tasting I would be guided by their consensus.

For me the 2002 had developed a distinctive barnyard smell with perhaps a hint of port on the nose. This, the oldest of the 3, was for me smooth and mellow on the palate.

Descriptions by my panel were a bit blue cheesey and biltong like. One view was complex with a “bit of attitude”. The general view was that whilst these nuances added to the overall mystique of a 16 year old wine any remaining bottles would need to be polished off in the relatively near future. Notwithstanding this 3 of the panel enjoyed this aged wine rather more than the latter two.

Next up were the 2004 and 2006. I have grouped these together because the panels view was there was not much to choose between them. Whilst young Pinots often evidence red berry nuances, think strawberry and raspberry with perhaps hints of red cherry, these old vintages had evolved into something unexpected namely earthy tones of mushrooms and even some floral undertones.

The general view was that both had held up extremely with fruit still very much in evidence but with a complexity not evident in younger Pinots.

To sum up all 3 wines were still eminently drinkable with the 2006 shading the 2004. However perhaps the best indication of the evening is that in the dinner that followed all three were quickly polished off. Thankfully, our host had a bottle of 2006 which was also drunk with alacrity.

David Geary is a graduate of the Cape Wine Academy and has hosted South African wine tastings internationally.

Why not visit us and taste our latest Pinot Noir and our flagship Integer Range of wines.


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