Winemakers do some odd things, but occasionally you taste the result and wonder why everyone isn't doing likewise.
Larry Brooks at Marmesa Vineyards in the Central Coast region of California decided that, ahead of the main harvest, he would go through the Pinot Noir picking the botrytised grapes and then make them into a sweet wine.
Marmesa Red Harvest Dessert Pinot Noir 2006 is a beautiful dusky rose-pink colour. It smells fantastic - tea and roses and freshness, and tastes just as good. There's a buttery texture to it, and tangy oranges into orange/lime marmalade. The 18% residual sugar - that's more than many Tokays - is well balanced with acidity. Altogether a fantastic wine. (fantastic = 4++(-5?), by the by)
We also tasted a Spanish oddity. Tasted blind I took it for some sort of sherry but in fact the Reserva Especial de Rotllan Torra 12anys comes from the north-east of the country, from Priorat. It's made from Garnacha and Carignan, aged in ancient barrels for four years and then in glass bonbons for another eight, estufagem style ("changes in temerature rust and produce the mature wine"). Yes, it does say 'rust'.
It has a complex nose, strongly sherried or rancio, with elements of cardamom spice alongside lanolin or Nivea. The palate is bone dry and sour green citrus, almost tamarind-sour. You might distinguish it from sherry by noting that it isn't quite as bracing. Not bracing, but still an excellent 4+.
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