3 Pinots, 2 Austrians, 1 Central Otago Glass
In what was probably a world first, two Austrians hosted a New Zealand Pinot Noir masterclass.
The unusual double act? Georg J Riedel, the 10th generation of the eponymous family-run glass company, and Salzburg-born winemaker Rudi Bauer, owner of Central Otago winery Quartz Reef.The reason for the tasting? The launch of the Riedel Central Otago Pinot Noir glass.
Not another Riedel wine glass, I hear you cry. They already have around 300 glasses, making 55 million glasses and decanters annually. Surely we could serve our
Central Pinot in one of the existing 300 glasses?
Well, you could, but even this sceptic has been convinced that this new glass might be better than any of their other 299 glasses for New Zealand Pinot Noir – not just Central Otago.
The Austrian pair presented three unnamed Pinots, which we poured into 5 separate glasses, tasted and evaluated.
The five glasses were:
1. Riedel Restaurant Pinot Noir,
2. XL Restaurant Pinot Noir
3. Extreme Restaurant Pinot Noir
4. Extreme Restaurant Central Otago Pinot Noir
5. XL Restaurant Cabernet
It was clear that the three wines – which turned out to be from Martinborough, Marlborough and Central Otago respectively – became the most attractive in glasses three and four. Pinots that seemed rather flat in one glass and austere in another, became fine and balanced in the Central Otago glass. The new glass emphasised the aromatic purity of the three wines, and refined the tannin and acid structure, giving a sense of harmony where other glasses failed.
Here are my notes for wine no. 2, the 2012 Dog Point Pinot Noir, which gives some idea of the trend across the three wines.
1: Richly aromatic: on the nose rather herbal – rosemary, sage, and some florals. High level of fruit intensity, very smooth, tight finish with taut tannins.
2: Rather dumb nose compared to 1. The richness has gone, accentuates the sweet black fruit rather than the florals and herbs, smokiness on the palate. Round, lacks focus. A little hot on the finish.
3: Round ripe expression, accentuates the more savoury elements of the wine and the garrigue notes. The tannins are mouthcoating and chalky, with balanced acidity.
4: Pure focused expression. Not so fruit-centric. Lovely purity, delicious chalkiness of tannin, fine acidity. Good depth of fruit on the palate, smooth and supple.
5: Rather dumb and flat on nose. Loose in the mouth.
This was Rudi’s perspective: “I love the Extreme glass from an aromatic point of view but I like the Central Otago glass from a palate point of view. From a tannin perspective, this glass is ahead of our time. It is ahead of New Zealand Pinot Noir…. We have to learn how to drive this thing.”
By the time New Zealand’s Pinot Noir conferences comes around in 2017, I hope producers will have made it out of first gear and, while I’ve only tasted three wines out of these glasses, I reckon wineries will be committing a traffic infringement if they don’t at least give them a test drive.
40,000 Central Otago Pinot Noir glasses have been made in the first run and they will go on sale in June-ish, costing $66 for a twin pack. (I have already put in my order although some less scrupulous journalists at the event happily took up Georg’s generous offer of taking the tasting’s 5 glasses home. Great journalistic integrity there, guys!)