Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Two very interesting bottles of wine

The majority of my cellar consist of wines that I have bought, usually by the dozen or more.  I enjoy the opportunity to have a repeatable experience of drinking an excellent wine (I only buy wines by the dozen or more when I have had the opportunity to taste the wine), and I love tasting how a wine develops over multiple years.

Yet, I am often gifted wine or have ended up with the 'loose' or odd bottle.  Sometimes these bottles represent excellent wines and I am aware of the wines characteristics and how it will taste.  Sometimes I have ended up with a crap bottle of wine, best used for cooking or to pass onto someone who is looking for the alcohol experience more than the wine tasting experience.  But the most interesting bottles are the ones I know nothing about, but have some indication they may be an interesting wine.

In the past several days, I have pulled out two bottles of wine that I knew nothing about.  The first one was a 2001 Courtney's Post Pinot Noir from Marlborough, NZ and the second, a 1996 Carindale Chardonnay from the Hunter Valley.  Both fortunately proved to be excellent bottles of wine!

Not knowing anything about these wines, I was uncertain what to expect.  I also had the concern that both wines being past their best drinking periods as Pinot Noir does not last well to a decade or beyond and neither does Chardonnay for the most part.  However, you are often blessed to find a bottle that defies the normal structure of the grape and the aging process.  Both of these wines surpassed my expectations by a far mark.

I knew who had given me the Pinot Noir and I was concerned as I had some nice bottles from him previously that had not been cellared properly and had not stood up well.  But the 2001 Courtney's Post Pinot Noir was great.  It was sweeter than most Pinot Noirs I have had and still retained a lot of fresh fruit with slight overtones of smoke.  My loved one had cooked up a tremendous pasta, chicken, cheese and broccoli casserole where she refused to follow the recipe and added some hot chile sauce and bacon among other things.  It was unbelievably good!  While I would usually match a younger Chardonnay to go with it, I had the Pinot Noir and it worked fine.  While not a perfect match, the wine and the food were both enjoyable.  I would not consider a Shiraz or even a decent Cabernet Sauvignon with a chicken, cheesy pasta dish, but the Pinot Noir was suitable enough.

The next night, I finished the 2001 Courtney's Post Pinot Noir with a serve of FAT (Feta, Avocado, Tomato on Toast) and that worked well also even though it was not a perfect match.  I think a lot of white wines would have gone well with the FAT, including Pinot Gris and Semillon.  But again, while not a perfect match, the Pinot Noir worked well enough with FAT.  I then had a sip of the Pinot Noir with mango and that did not work!  (I will be writing a separate post a bit later on what wines to drink with veggies and fruits.)

But the strange thing was that I could not find any references to Courtney Post wines, either through Wine-Searcher Pro or through Google.  They may have gone out of business, but I was expecting to find something about them somewhere.  (I must admit that while I did not try exceptionally hard to find a reference to them, I certainly thought it would be easier than it was!)  This was an exceptional wine for which I can find no history.  This is the reason I do not buy single bottles - I would have liked to repeat this experience, but sadly, it has become a 'one-nighter!'

Tonight, we are having leftover chicken pasta with cheese, broccoli, bacon and chile and I really wanted a Chardonnay to go with it tonight.  I had to scramble and only found two bottles of Chardonnay in my apartment.  Since one was a 2007 La Belle Voisine Chassagne Montrachet, I decided to go with the other one, that being the 1996 Carindale Chardonnay from the Hunter Valley.  When I checked Google this time, I did find a reference and found out it was a Hunter Valley winery that made aged Chardonnay among other wines.  And they are just down the road from Waverley Estate on Palmers Lane who also specialize in aged Chardonnay and Semillon.

I have no recollection of who gave me this bottle or how I came in contact with it.  But it is delicious! I cannot discern a specific fruit flavor to it - it tastes more like a finely blended fruit cocktail, but less sweet, in fact, a bit minerally.  Yet, the texture is somewhat viscous which I really enjoy in a well-aged white wine, and it has a very long finish.  This is a wine which fills and satisfies the senses!  And look at the color of the wine!  While not as golden and as complex as several of my 'Top 5 whites ever,' this is a great wine and still has some way to go.  I expect it will be drinking even more beautifully in 3 - 5 years, and hope I can find a bottle to test my theory out!

Fortunately, they are still in business and just around the corner from our place in the Hunter Valley!  I will be visitng them during my next visit to the Hunter Valley.  While they are sold out of the 1996 (and 1998) Chardonnay, they still appear to have some of the 2000 Chardonnay left and if it is anything like the 2000 Waverley Estate Chardonnay (or their own 1996 Chardonnay), it will be a great drink!

I don't always strive for the best food and wine match, even though I think it is usually worth the effort.  Sometimes I just want to try a particular bottle of wine and will drink it with a meal.  And while I don't usually like single bottles of undiscernable heritage, I must admit that I got very lucky with these two bottles and they have provided a great drinking experience over the last few days.  Some times it is worth taking a risk and going on a 'blind date' with a bottles.  Even though it may not last a life time, it can still be a great one-nighter!


  1. Great review Steve. I just came back from central otago and ordered some 07 Amistead Reserve Pinot. We had a 02 Gibston Valley reserve as a present while there - beautiful. If love to know your thoughts on South Island pinots and their aging potential. Your review suggests drink them youngish?

    1. Gayan. Yes, in general there are some great NZ Pinots. I love pushing Pinots to the edge of their allotted time, but it is riskier for a Pinot than a Shiraz or a Semillon or Riesling which will slowly age over a long period of time and you can better predict the optimal drinking time and end of life.

      I generally would not let a decent Pinot sit for more than 3 -5 years and a very good Pinot for 8 - 10 at the most. If you have several bottles, you can try one after 5 - 6 years to get a feel for how much further it will last and plan to open them accordingly.

      One of the best Pinots I have ever had was the 1998 Bannockburn and I had my last bottle a year ago, so about 13 years old when I drank it and it was still spectacular. But this was an unusual vintage, very dry and therefore, stronger, longer lasting grapes.

      Good Burgandies of course can be set down for even longer, but as I said previously, it is always a risk. I am drinking the 2007 La Belle Voisine Nuits St George now and have about 6 bottles left. I expect to drink 3 or so in the next 12 - 18 months, and maybe 1- 2 the year after that and then maybe push one for several more years to see how it holds up.

      Keep well. It would be good to get a bottle together soon. We pal around with Dave and Susie Lock in the Hunter a bit and are going to their place for Christmas dinner, so will crack open a couple of nice bottles then.