Enforced "confined to barracks" time, however, can have it's advantages, such as working your way through the more pronounced wines on the wine rack, which will cut through the seriously diminished sense of smell and pack a punch on the taste buds nonetheless. Our Chinese take-away on Friday 14th didn't exactly light any gastronomic fires, but it was a great pairing with a delicious bottle of Bruno Sorg Alsace Gewurztraminer. I last drank this back in August, interestingly, also the last time I featured some Pinot Noir heavy hitters... the 2011 was almost sweet but full, rich, honeyed and packed with all the usual lychee and rose flavours that pair so well with exotic foods. Sadly both the Wine Society and Tanners have sold out of this £11.50 delight, so we'll have to wait for a new release, or hope that the one remaining bottle of Gewurz in my fridge hand carried from Alsace with match up to this level of finesse. The Sorg family have been making wine in Alsace since the 18th century so they know how to bring out the succulent fruit and spice in these varietals which thrive on the hillsides around Eguisheim. If you get a chance to try it, make sure you take it.
Having spent a week working with International Wine Challenge last year, I was also swayed by the fact that this wine had achieved gold medal status. It also won the Chilean Pinot Noir and Chilean Red trophy as well as being nominated as one of the best reds in the challenge. This wine had some seriously high expectations riding on it.
He's spent many years in the "anything but PN" camp, yet lately he's mellowed, perhaps because I've chosen less light Alsace and Burgundian examples and gone for the heavy hitters from the new world.
Tonight, I selected 4 bottles from the wine rack and asked him to pick a number between 1 and 4. He could have been enjoying a mature Ridge Zinfandel, a Californian Syrah, or a £35 bottle of Australian Shiraz right now. Instead, lucky number 3 meant that a Chilean Pinot Noir appeared in his glass.
Without telling him anything about the wine, I simply poured and served.
Luckily, Mr Purple Teeth agreed with the pundits. "This is a seriously nice wine", he said before I revealed the varietal. While I found much of the signature strawberry flavours I expect from a PN, Mr Purple Teeth felt there were deeper fruits present. This is a good thing since the slightest hint of strawberry usually leads him to pull an awful face, make a bleurgh sound and leaves me wondering what to open just for him while I polish off the whole bottle.
Red fruits may not win his favour, but I enjoy a good Pinot Noir, and this is a seriously good one. The body leads to a velvety mouthfeel, acidity is well balanced, and the tannins are so well integrated that you almost have to go looking for them. They are there, though, and this wine will probably develop more smokey and leathery flavours if you, unlike me, have the patience to keep it for a year or two. Asked for a final comment, he declared, "Gutted that the bottle's empty". I don't think he's ever given a higher accolade to a Pinot Noir! Those wine gurus at IWC must know what they are talking about.
Chile is producing some amazing value wines right now, and this one is no exception. A Burgundy of this quality might be at least £10 more. If you want to find out what makes a Gold Medal winner worth it's accolade, you could do a lot worse than to pick this one out. I'm now, more than ever, looking forward to becoming an associate judge on the last day of the International Wine Challenge next time around.