The Day Pinot Noir Stole My Heart

Sunday, June 1, 2014



After 7 months living here in Melbourne, its been decided: I miss wine.

I miss the vineyards. I miss the industry, I miss the people, the interactions, the conversations, the smells, the sounds and the sights.

I've been so focused on work here, that I haven't given much attention to this passion project that I started so long ago, but slowly, yet surely my interest in wine is emerging once again (and it feels kinda good).

I thought it suiting to write about the variety that made me fall in love with wine. A wine that made me realize there was a world beyond wine's physical matter. That there is an intangible feeling and emotion tied to all great wine. It's this experience that all wine lovers strive for, and when it's achieved it leaves us wanting more.

My first great wine experience happened in a greenhouse, on the side of the QEW highway. It was a rainy day and the staff of Jackson-Triggs were out to explore the (at that time) up and coming Beamsville Bench.  All of us in that group that day were relatively new to wine, yet I look back now and see the impact this day may have had on the many of us still working in the industry.

At this stage in my career I guess you could say I had been bitten by the wine bug, but the relationship was flirtatious at that. It was on this day, however that my love affair with wine truly began. It all started with a visit to a winery called Le Clos Jordanne

"How do I know when a wine is good?" It's a question I often asked that summer, to one JT staff member in particular . It was a question which was always answered with "When a wine is good - you just know".

We stood around the 50 odd barrels in a damp cellar while Thomas Bachelder described the wine in the barrels as teenage boys. One "boy" in particular, had locked himself  in his bedroom and was listening to his iPod, while his mother banged on his bedroom door. Oblivious to it all, the teenage boy ignored her. Who was this teenage boy? It was Thomas's 2006 Pinot Noir; a wine with so much potential, and fruit that you knew was in there yet just wasn't ready to come out. So, in essence this wine was just like the teenage boy - locked in his bedroom, listening to an iPod, whilst his loving and patient parent (Thomas Bachleder) knocked on his door.

It was this analogy that forever changed the way I thought about wine. This story has stayed with me for the rest of my wine career. From that point on, wine was no longer a drink, wine was a personality. Wine had a life, and most importantly wine had a story.

We then continued to taste that Pinot Noir that was listening to its' iPod, and I could sense what it would be when it grew up. That wine, still in barrel gave a glimpse into the wines destiny. It was at this point when I finally realized what good wine was. I still remember the elegance; hints of cherry, striking minerality, metalicness yet with balance and structure. It occurred to me then, in that cellar that maybe knowing good wine wasn't this elusive gift of the wine gods. That maybe, just maybe,  I could taste what good wine was too.

It's this experience that keeps me so entrenched in a love affair with wine.

I remember Chris Waters once saying that we don't just drink a glass of wine - we drink the story. That couldn't be more true. At the end of the day there are plenty of tasting notes out there, but it's the story behind the wine that really sets it apart. For me, wine is best told as a story and it's these stories that I hope to share.




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