Georges Michel Pinot Noir 'Reserve', Marlborough, New Zealand 2012

Georges Michel La Reserve.jpg
Georges Michel La Reserve.jpg

Georges Michel Pinot Noir 'Reserve', Marlborough, New Zealand 2012

22.95

"Everywhere you go, you always take the weather with you." - Crowded House

Georges Michel is a winemaker from Burgundy, who moved to New Zealand in 1997, lured by rumours that grapes were actually a type of ripening fruit. After years of picking tiny, sour berries that birds would spit out in disgust, he went in pursuit of plump, juicy grapes that had aroma, succulence and charm.

The odd thing is that although he has moved halfway around the world, he somehow manages to bring a French sensibility to the Pinot Noirs he makes in New Zealand and this ‘Reserve’, made in the spirit of a true reserve wine and deliberately released late (note the vintage is 2012), tastes like a serious red Burgundy. I’ve emboldened that because I stand by it. I know wine merchants make unquantifiable claims like that all the time, but it’s not a throwaway line or a piece of lazy marketing, I have tasted it numerous times, often in the company of keen Pinotphiles, and it has shown itself to be an utterly convincing doppelganger for a delicious, red from one of the village appellations in the Côtes de Nuits.

It makes you wonder how far the hand of the winemaker can influence the taste of a wine compared to the much-venerated ‘terroir’, so when you taste Burgundy, are you tasting the land and the microclimate or the traditions and taste preferences of the winemakers? Discuss. Not now.

It may not appeal to everyone, because New Zealand Pinot Noirs have their own unique charm, a style we love too, but don’t buy this expecting a classic, primary-fruit Kiwi Pinot, because it’s in a different paradigm altogether.

It may sound fanciful, but the colour seems to have a Burgundian look to it. It's not the gleaming ruby of most New World Pinots, but has hints of purple and muddy red, like a young Nuits-St-George, but the real joy lies in the aromas, which evoke sweet cherry, raspberry, red-fleshed plums, violets, forest floor, sandalwood and cold fireside embers. It’s like a young Chambolle-Musigny! You just want to keep swirling your glass, it’s so inviting - the classic Sunday lunch red, so light, so pretty, so complex. It really impresses on the palate too with its superfine, silky elegance and the gorgeous inner perfume of a really great Pinot Noir. Make sure you pour it into a wide-bowled glass, to give the aromas room to operate, and I look forward to hearing what your Burgundy-loving friends think it is when you serve it to them blind. As for food-matching, those red berry flavours are crying out for some roast pigeon or venison. 13.5% alc. Drink now-2022.

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