Monday, March 22, 2010


Have you noticed when buying wine on the wine sales in supermarkets that the advertisements are for a range of wines (e.g. Selaks Premium Selection, Villa Maria Cellar Selection. Montana Reserve etc.) with a rider at the bottom saying "Special price does not include the Pinot Noir).
Thos is because, generally speaking, Pinot Noir is more expensive to create than most other varietals. There are lots of reasons for this (in the past scarcity was a factor but no more), being that Pinot Noir crops  in lower volumes, does not respond well to being forced into higher volumes, needs delicate and expensive crushing, requires good wood treatment and lots of winemaking input etc.

I was pleasantly surprised today in seeing the Stoneleigh range including Pinot Noir all being priced at $11.95 in Pak 'n' Save, quite a few dollars less than it is usually priced at.
This 2008 Marlborough wine is a real typical Marlborough beauty. It has a soft and supple texture with the fruit tannins and gentle wood waiting in reserve. The nose is again typical with cherry and strawberry notes but with an even deeper fruity fragrance of raspberries/blackberries. It finishes with a nice earth and spice flavour but the fruit still shines through. In summary a surprise and a very pleasant one. This is good wine at its normal price ($18+?) but at $11.95 a bargain.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Digging through the cellar (still unsorted after our move) I pulled out a bottle of Ruffino 2001 Romitorio Di Santedame to go with my pasta with vegetable sauce.
I had forgotten how bloody marvellous this wine is and how big.
It has a rich and velvety texture that is at once smooth but with a refreshing finish. Similar big Merlot based wines from France or Australia may have the smoothness but lack this refreshing edge.
Romitorio is a blend of Colorino 60% and Merlot 40%. It has a very deep red colour and an aroma of  plums and cherries which are there on the palate as well but with rich flavours of blackberry and licorice. As mentioned it finishes amazingly fresh.

Originating from a native wild grape, Colorino is known for its deep colour (as the name suggests) and is now used widely in Tuscany. The wine in my glass at 8 and a half years old shows no sign of ageing and is a deep virtually dense red.

What the producers say:

"Almost 20 years have passed since the first vintage of Romitorio di Santedame - 20 years since Ruffino started its experiments with the extraordinary Colorino on the Santedame Estate. Ruffino was the first Tuscan company to dedicate time and effort to this red grape variety.

Romitorio di Santedame is a truly unique wine. It is a symbol of the importance which Ruffino attributes to rediscovery and development of the indiginous Tuscan varieties. Both the bouquet and the tasting profile of this wine convey the splendid nature of its home country: It is volumptious, yet soothing, rustic, yet refined. A wine with character. A unique wine.

Romitorio di Santedame shows a deep ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, little transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas which start with hints of cherry, plum and blueberry followed by aromas of black currant, blackberry, violet, vanilla, licorice, tobacco, cocoa, clove and menthol. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and pleasing crispness, however well balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, agreeable. The finish is persistent with flavors of cherry, plum and blueberry. A well made wine. Romitorio di Santedame ages for about 18 months in barrique followed by at least 6 months of aging in bottle."

Well, I can't disagree. I might describe it differently but the overall effect is the same. All this opulence and richness comes with an alcohol level of 13.5%. To get such a big rich wine from Australia or New Zealand the alcohol levels would be closer to 15% and then be out of balance or porty. Viva Italia I say.