Now, I must state for starters, that for me - the Best Wine In The World is a damn fine Pinot Noir.
Pinot Noir at its best is a glorious spectrum of flavours from funky to savoury to fruity to lush, ripe, spicy, smoky, herbal and opulent.
But, lately I have been the recipient of trade samples of a few P Noirs which really don't quite hit the mark. And sadly, not a few from Central Otago. Most have disappointed.
The very first P Noir that I fell in love with was from Matua Valley, in the days (1980s) when Bill & Ross Spence were still the owners (and before the sellout to Fosters Aus). This was a good value locally grown West Auckland, see-thru light to medium red wine from the Kumeu clay soils - and yet barnyard/funky, and ripe with a glorious herbal spicy flavour and good length.
Lately the P Noirs I have been sampling are a tad one dimensional. They have an overpowering flavour of red fruits like strawberry and raspberry with a short length -and nothing more that is notable.
And yet - a wine that made me rejoice with the feeling of finding a long lost friend, was the Awa Valley Pinot Noir - grown in Huapai/Kumeu west Auckland and vinted by freelance winemaker Shane Cox. This wine brought back all those nostalgic moments from the old Matua valley Days.
Sadly as a child I had threadworms. Ewwww! Sorry to have to share that with you. But anyway - the cure for the 'whole family' ('cos threadworm are a 'shared family experience') was a disgusting anti-wormy cure called Vanquin. You had to skull a little plastic V-shaped measure cup of 20 ml of bright red, strawberry flavour-disguised worm death crapolla guck. It was the kind of stuff that made you retch slightly when you swallowed it.
Even more sadly, when I sample some of these young, one-dimensional P Noirs, I am reminded on a subliminal level of the Strawberry Horrors of Vanquin and immediately feel a bit nauseous.
I can't escape my past. But the Awa Valley hits the mark - with no anti-worm flashback memories.
Phil runs Wine Tours In Auckland, God help him.