I got a DM on Twitter last week. For those not on Twitter, that’s a direct message. Or a 140 character email. The DM was from @PinotMichelle, aka Michelle Morpeth, the Sales & Marketing representative for Wooing Tree vineyard. She was in Wellington for a sales trip and wanted to know if I was free to come and taste some Wooing Tree wines.
Well, don’t mind if I do.
I brought my friend Mary along for the tasting. She’s also the wonderfully fabulous social media guru whose helping me with my Tweets.
It was a pleasant mix between a casual girls night out and a studious wine education.
We met Michelle at her Copthorne hotel room, she invited us in, offered us nibbles and a comfortable seat. Nice start.
We were each handed a glass of champagne coloured wine. We swirled and sniffed. Michelle asked us what we thought, what we smelled, what variety we thought it was.
I used my powers of deduction. It didn’t have the viscosity of a Reisling, or the oak-y-ness of a Chardonnay, it didn’t have the powerful punch of a Gewurztraminer bouquet.
I hazarded a guess at Pinot Gris.
I was wrong. It was a Pinot Noir.
We started the evening sampling a Blondie 2011. Pinot Noir is one of the main grapes in champagne, hence the colour. In appearance and flavour it can be likened to champagne without the bubbles. There was white peach and white nectarines on the nose with hints of spicy nutmeg. It was made by separating out the skins right away, which leaves just a slightly tinged juice.
Michelle mentioned that once you knew it was a Noir, people started to smell strawberries. The second wine was a Rose. Made in much the same way as the Blondie, but with a few more hours having with the skins intact. There were much more raspberries and strawberries on the nose and a dry finish.
It came about for Wooing Tree as a result of the number of weddings at the cellar door and the vineyard wanted too be able to serve a white wine.
Next up was the Beetle Juice 2010, an entry level Pinot Noir at $28 retail. There were jokes tossed around that the name was a result of crushed beetles in the wine. I noted it down with a question mark. I’ve been called gullible. Turns out it’s actually names in support of the endangered Cromwell Chafer Beetle. The Beetle Juice has a high fruit intensity and is ready to drink. The next level up is the Wooing Tree Pinot Noir 2009, a more complex and layered wine.
Michelle appealingly described the Wooing Tree Pinot as a wine that has relaxed into itself. A wine that has dropped its shoulders a bit. (As a complete aside, I’m also a yoga teacher, shoulders dropping really speaks to me).
We chatted our way through to the Sandstorm Reserve 2009, which sets itself apart from the previous two wines as it is a much more select group of grapes that create a more complex drink and has an additional six to seven months for a total of 18 months in oak. A wine that’s designed to age.
Mary picked it out before me, a wine with rose petals on the nose.
And as Michelle pointed out a slight sous bois (under the wood/the forest floor). The smell of walking through wet leaves.
We finished what was a lovely evening with the Tickled Pink. Wooing Tree’s dessert wine, a pinot noir Rose. The grapes that go into the Rose have an additional six weeks or so on the vine after the first harvest. The leaves start to drop of the vine and the grapes start to shrivel up so they’re more raisin like. Resulting in a very intensely sweet dessert wine. The wine still retained it flavour though. It wasn’t overrun by the sugar.
All of these wines are 100% pinot noir grapes. The two wine-related chats we had that night that stuck with me were (1) Pinot noirs are a low yielding fruit. therefore there’s typically a higher price point as it’s harder the right conditions for growing pinot noir; and (2)those places that are ideal for growing pinot noir are at about 45 degrees latitude, both north and south of the equator. Burgundy, France, Oregon and Northern California, Southern New Zealand and Tasmania.
Thank you again Michelle for a truly enjoyable evening.