Saturday, 12 January 2013

Saint Clair Pioneer's Block 14: 'Doctor's Creek'

I mentioned in my first review that I love Saint Clair as a vinyard. In many ways Saint Clair was the first wine that I really thought about and one that got me hooked on the idea of Pinot Noir and the versatility of grapes in general. Matt Thomson has won a host of awards, including the prestigious for his work at Saint Clair and the Pioneer Block series always deliver - even their Gewürztraminer was excellent, and I am no fan of Gewürztraminer.

I tried PB 15 (as it was in its previous iteration) at approximately this time last year and have since tried several of Saint Clair's Pinot Noirs. The current vintage is 2011's Doctor's Creek, or PB 14 for short. I have now tried it on 4 occasions, 3 of which were tastings, and I feel that I'm on to a real winner with it. I would describe it as an excellent example of  how a New World beast can be tamed.

Nose: SC PB 14 has a lovely intense nose of all the great parts of Pinot Noir - it's a jammy raspberry blast with a hint of mushroom earthiness to back it up. Nutmeg dances around the aroma to give it a hint of depth. An almost ferric hint slips in there somewhere, but is elusive if you look for it. As with Pioneer Block 3, intensity is the buzzword regarding Saint Clair's wines, but don't imagine that it is just intensity. There's also great complexity and this is not a wine to be dismissed as a New World 'fruit bomb'.

Palate: Sweet with the slight sourness that characterises top Pinot Noir. The fruit is held in place and structured with this, combined with pepper and spice backing up the juiciness. This is most certainly not Burgundy - it's juicy and fruity and lacks the savoury 'barnyard' gaminess of top Burgundy, but has much to interest nevertheless. In time (approx 1.5 hours) the spice becomes more pronounced - becoming more Burgundian. Interesting. Excellent.

Body: As an inexperienced taster, this is somewhat hard to describe. In terms of flavour, this is a full-bodied mouth-filling wine but it isn't heavy in the slightest. It is in fact exceptionally smooth, suggesting it's light of body. Whatever the correct description is, it's lovely.

Finish: Is that a hint of menthol, clearing my palate for another glass? Only one way to find out...

Conclusion: With cellaring potential of 5 years from vintage (i.e. up to 2016) it is well worth buying a case or two. It is an easy-going crowd pleaser and will never fail to impress. Serve with slow-cooked paprika chicken or prawns with squid-ink linguine (contact me for a recipe if you want). I have a photo of it somewhere that I should upload... 

Points: Excellent. 91, especially after a little time exposed to the air.

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