Over one hundred wines from across the globe now on promotion in O'Briens Wine.

Over one hundred wines from across the globe now on promotion in O'Briens Wine.

Hard to confine yourself when picking a few highlights in O’Briens Wine September sale; there are well over one hundred wines from across the globe on promotion until the 26th of the month. I decided to put the focus on one grape and it helps that Pinot Noir is a favourite of mine and, while I skipped Burgundy (the home of the grape), I’ve have suggestions from New Zealand and Romania. And, if you’d like to check a well-known Burgundy example then pick up a bottle of Louis Jadot.

Pinot Noir is also much used in sparkling wines, a key part of most Champagnes and other French bubbles (eg Crémant). But oddly enough not in our Champagne recommendation:  the Granzamy Brut (down from 34.90 to 29.90) which is made from just the one grape, Pinot Meunière.

While you will find Pinot Noir around the world, it is not that widely planted. Certain areas are noted for it including Burgundy, Germany, Oregon in the US, Chile in South America and Marlborough in New Zealand.

Wildflower Pinot Noir Romania 2019, 12.5%, €8 (was 13.95)

Romania? Haven’t heard much about their wine? Reasonable questions. But vineyards were first planted in Romania by the Romans so there is an ancient winemaking history here. Nowadays, according to the World Atlas of Wine, “EU membership has encouraged considerable investment in Romania’s vineyards and relatively well-run wineries”

This Pinot Noir is a pale ruby colour, as you might expect from the varietal. There’s a fruity nose (raspberry, strawberry, cranberry) and fairly spicy too. Very fruity on the palate, richer than you’d generally find in France. But it’s light and fresh, and acidity enough to make it very quaffable indeed. Good finish too. A pleasant intro to the Pinot Noir grape and excellent value.

The label, naturally enough, says this is “an outstanding example of this famous varietal and can be enjoyed on its own, slightly chilled on a hot summer evening, or as perfect companion to BBQs where it will definitely keep all your friends happy.”

Astrolabe Pinot Noir (Marlborough) 2017, 13.5%, 19.95 (normally 25.45).

Bright ruby is the colour of this Marlborough Pinot Noir made by Simon Waghorn who is one of new Zealand’s most accoladed winemakers with a reputation for making “terroir” focused Sauvignon Blanc as well as Pinot Noir.

This fragrant wine with red berry fruit prominent (wild strawberries) and bramble fruit too. Cool elegant mouth-filling fruit (black and red cherry) follow and the oak has melded nicely with the fruit. There’s a  silky tannin structure and excellent acidity. This lively style is indeed a thoroughly pleasurable experience, plush on the palate, and fresh, fruity to the delicious finish. Very happy with this one. Very Highly Recommended as was the case with the 2015 version.

O’Brien’s say: Astrolabe is a small family wine business owned and run by Simon and his family in Marlborough. Astrolabe Pinot Noir is well-balanced with refreshing acidity and silky tannins, it is fragrant with a purity of ripe wild berry fruit that makes this wine sing across the palate. Eleven months in French oak adds a smoky complexity on the lingering finish.

Waghorn tells us “Marlborough is a great area for all those aromatic cool climate wines that we know around the world, like Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling, but in our cool climate, the only red that flourishes reliably every year is Pinot Noir, which is lucky for me as a winemaker, because it’s the best of them all. If you only had one red wine to be able to make, Pinot Noir would be the one you’d normally choose as a winemaker.”

He just loves Pinot Noir: “Pinot Noir occupies a special place. It’s a food-friendly red. It’s a red that has vibrancy and life in it. That’s what I’m focusing on — making sure that we don’t lose that sense of vitality from the fruit in the wine and style it in a way that it is long, plush, enjoyable and full without being heavy and muscular.”

Food pairings: Venison, duck, game, roasted beetroot, rare and tender lamb, and earthy wild mushrooms, Asian-style duck, seared tuna and swordfish.

A Few Good Whites

No problem in picking a few good whites from the promotion. Let us start in Australia with the Stonier Chardonnay. Stonier was established in 1978 and are noted for their Burgundian style cool climate wines. The vineyards overlook the ocean. Chardonnay is a signature wine for Stonier and this is a gem.

Back to Europe for the rest of our whites, beginning with the Robert Weil Riesling Trocken. A Riesling dry in style and well balanced like its Rheingau predecessors “from the glorious age of Riesling a century ago: a contemporary classic and a perfect partner for many foods.”  Must say I don’t know anything about the Rieslings of a century ago but this light gold coloured wine is a gem for sure.

The Lingenfelder family, winemakers in the Pfalz area of Germany since 1520, produce this Lingenfelder Bird-Label Riesling, one of their "Vineyard Creatures" series that also includes the Hare (Gewürztraminer) and the Fox (Dornfelder) . This particular Riesling is off dry and delicious. It has the typical Riesling aromas (citrus-y), is fresh and elegant and may be enjoyed as an aperitif or with light or spicy dishes.

Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard is “one of the first wine producers in organic farming in Chablis and Burgundy”. They started on the organic way in 1997. The winery itself is ultra modern, everything is stainless steel, and this Brocard Petit Chablis gets some lees ageing. It is a light bright gold with exotic fruit aromas. An intense palate, fresh and full, and then a lingering and very satisfying finish.