With me at the dinner on Tuesday night was a pen and paper. Every time Sam would stand up to talk I would put down my wine glass and pick up my pen. By the end of the night I’d mastered the art of writing with the right and drinking with the left. But that’s an aside.
No one else at the table was quite so studious. They were just there to sit back, relax and enjoy.
From the list of things I had forgotten I’d learned, the top seven are:
With Pinot Noir, colour isn’t that important. Colour and flavour aren’t related and as the pinot noir grape has such a thin skin you’ll never get as much colour as you would with Cabernet Sauvignon.
Wine is a generational business. There were quotes passed back and forth. “You can make a small fortune making wine, but you need to have a large fortune to start with” and “You can start with no fortune at all and have nothing to lose.” Sam talked about how it would be the next generation who would benefit from what he was doing now.
If you visit Berry Bros. and Rudd at 3 St. James’s Street in London, the fine wine and spirit merchants where Sam Weaver started his career, you’ll find, among other things, records of King George III’s weight. The shop, which opened in 1698 would sell wine and coffee to the royal family and wealthy Lodoners. As they had large scales, customers would get their weight recorded when they came in to shop.
With biodynamics in wine there are four types of days – flower, fruit, root and leaf. Of these, flower and fruit are supposed to be best for tasting. Tuesday was a root day, until 8pm when the day switched over to a flower day, half way through the dinner. Sam didn’t go into too much detail on this as there were some sceptical faces at the table, but definitely something to explore further.
Central Otago has a high fruit content to their Pinot Noirs. The Malborough Pinots, and especially the Churton Pinots, have a much higher amount of savoury elements.
All Churton wine is sealed with cork. Sam wouldn’t have it any other way. He explained that when bottling with cork there is a continuous connection between the wine and the atmosphere as a small amount of oxygen can get through. A screw cap creates a hermetic seal that doesn’t allow for any oxygen transfer. Even a little oxygen transfer will completely change the development of the wine.
The rationale behind the saying ‘No such thing as a great wine, there’s just a great bottle of wine’ is that wine is suggestive. Drink a wine on a beautiful evening with exquisite food and great company. Then try that same wine again after a really long, shit day at work. They’re going to be completely different wines. Makes sense.
After all this, I’m saturated. At least for one evening. It’s amazing just how much you can learn when you open your ears. I’m sure I could have the same wine with the same company and come out the other end with a list of seven more nuggets of brand new knowledge all over again. Wonderful.