Pinot Noir Tasting at Caveau

Here are my tasting notes (some, I left a couple out) from the Pinot Noir tasting held at Caveau Newlands organised by Jörg Pfützner. We tasted 12 Pinots in total with one or two Rieslings thrown in by Jorg before and after, he is a Riesling fanatic, and his Riesling Festival at the beginning was excellent. We also had a surprise at the end, but I’ll leave that until end as well.

All the Pinots except the Newton Johnson were decanted about 4-6 hours prior to the tasting, and all were served blind.

2006 Burnt Spur Pinot Noir, Martinborough New Zealand

A rich smoky nose that was somewhat reserved. The savoury character followed through onto the palate with a tinge of bacon. Was a little short for me with a fleeting raspberry moment. Good structure but on the whole quite one dimensional.

2007 Paul Cluver, Elgin Valley South Africa

A pale ruby with a touch of brick on the rim, a little worrisome for an 07. A sweaty nose with cherries quite prominent. The palate was all sour red cherries and juice. I love the width and length of the palate, a bit disjointed, but enjoyable. The acidity was very refreshing, couple people called the Paul Cluver as being from New Zealand and the Burnt Spear as South African

2007 Domaine Fourrier Morey St Denis ‘ Clos Solon’, Burgundy

A dense rich savoury nose, with a mineral nature underneath. Like a thick gravy that has been dropped on a gravel driveway. Lovely linear taught palate, slightly grainy like a poor TV picture not grain from a field. Savoury character is also present on the palate, superb balance and elegance. Really enjoyed this one.

Newton Johnson 2008, Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, South Africa

This bottle had recently been opened and the group as a whole felt it wasn’t showing well. Quite a few of us had tasted it recently and found this experience to be very different. The nose had an initial strong aroma of burnt rubber, that blew off quickly (thank god, there were foreigners in the room). The palate was quite closed in comparison to my tasting it last week. The winemaker, who was present, said he’s been seeing the wine go through ups and downs from week to week, and as it is their first Pinot vintage they did not know what to expect, a case of "’let’s wait and see’.

Radford Dale Freedom Pinot Noir 2008, Elgin, South Africa

I really liked the nose on this wine, there was an initial level of red berries, strawberry and red cherries with an attractive oatmeal layer underneath. A strawberry oatmeal biscuit. The palate, however, disappointed with some strawberry showing. It was alright but seemed to lack assurance. The nose and palate seemed at odds with each other. 

2005 Domaine Robert Chevillon Nuits Saint George, Burgundy 

A wine that divided the table. I enjoyed the aniseed and date nose which really came through on the palate. The acidity was tart and drew it all together for me. But Remington Norman, author and Burgundy expert, didn’t like it at all, but knowing the producer well he said it would turn out fine, but now it is just too rustic. He wasn’t sure if it even was Burgundian. On a technical analysis I have absolutely no doubt he is right, my ability to judge wines on that level is miniscule, but I enjoyed the character of the wine, its funk. It was a wine that was unquestionably not the best on the evening, but (going to personify now) it was the one I would go party with, it would wear a hat jauntily, tell the best stories, the ladies would love it, and it would probably piss of the establishment.

2006 Craggy Range Te Muna, Martinborough New Zealand

Looked like it was from a warmer climate, I picked it as South African. Remington nailed it and called it Craggy almost straight away. Ripe fruit on the nose, almost a touch confected. Red sour cherry on the palate with some oak spice showing a bit too much for me. A solid wine, that (this is Remington not me) will age well.

2007 Sumaridge, Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, South Africa 

Remington loved this wine. And at around R140 cellar door it is a bargain. It was too meaty for me and felt a bit over weight. I’ll listen to Remington though and buy a case for 4-5 years time.


So I get to the last flight and I have become lazy at my note taking and obviously more chatty. These are remembrances rather than written perceptions I had at the time.

2001 Wither Hill, Martinborough New Zealand

I had dine a bit of reading before I went to the tasting and this wine was only supposed to last 4-6 years according to the wine maker, however even from the colour you could see it was very fresh. Vibrant bright nose, bits of farmy stink with good red fruits. The palate was wonderfully fresh and pure. I really liked this wine. It turns out that it had been kept for a couple years in a large cold house used for storing meat, the low temperature meant that is hadn’t developed.

2000 Hamilton Russell Vineyards, Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, South Africa

Corked. Had a strange nose of apples left in a box for too long.

2002 Domaine Hubert de Montille Volnay Les Champans 1er Cru, Burgundy

Undoubtedly the main act of the night. With the others doing a great job at getting the crowd ready, this Pinot stole the show. A pale colour that flowed together from core to rim. Can’t give exact flavours but it was just an incredibly sexy wine with various levels of flavours and aromas changing and evolving in the glass. In my short drinking life so far, this is one of the best Pinots I have tasted.


Once most of the people had left and there were about six of us left, Jorg got out a bottle he had been given for his Birthday: a 1977 Cote-Rotie La Mouline by Guigal. 1977 is known to be a terrible vintage for the Rhone, but Guigal is a great producer and Jorg said that we would probably find he has made a decent wine from a very difficult year.

1977 Cote-Rotie La Mouline, Rhone

The nose was a changing blend of loamy rich earth and dark olives. The earthiness followed onto the palate with a touch of the olives as well. Not much fruit left but there were hints of dark berries. I loved the earthy aspect of the wine. The acidity was still there and wonderfully fresh. For a difficult vintage this was a wonderful wine.


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