From $18.88, NZ$30.95, £36
Find Mountford Pinots
Last Friday afternoon I got together with a few fellow wine writers at the New York offices of Christie's to taste a few wines that Per Holmberg of Christie's had chosen to represent wines they were selling at the moment augmented by three I had chosen to represent new maps in - did I mention? - the new, 7th edition of The World Atlas of Wine, whose US launch had propelled me across the Atlantic.
My colleagues were Ray Isle of Food & Wine, Julia Weinberg of the wine app about which our American columnist Alder Yarrow raved recently in Delectable, the only wine app worth a damn, fellow Master of Wine Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, wine director at 'inoteca and L'artusi Catherine Gerdes and Diane Letulle of Wine Lover's Journal.
Per's wines were a couple of California Pinots - Sea Smoke, Southing 2008 Santa Barbara County and Calera, Jensen 1990 Mt Harlan – to compare with a cork-tainted Faiveley, Les Damodes 1993 Nuits-St-Georges, which, fortunately for us, was replaced by the easiest bottle of red burgundy to find in his office, a gorgeous Hospices de Beaune, Charlotte Dumay 2002 Corton. He also fielded a couple of examples of Cabernets from the famous Eisele vineyard in the northern Napa Valley, Phelps's 1982 and Araujo's 1994. (Was this a subtle promo for his boss François Pinault's new acquisition?! - see Foreign investment in Napa.)
I'll be publishing tasting notes on all these wines and have already published reviews of those I threw into the pot: RDV's delicious Lost Mountain 2010 from Virginia, Adi Badenhorst's Secateurs Red Blend from Swartland and a Waipara Pinot Noir from New Zealand on Purple Pages. They were all knocked out by the quality of the Virginia wine and really enjoyed what the South African delivered for the money, but the real bargain turned out to be the Mountford Estate, Village Pinot Noir 2008 Waipara, a wine of the week here back in May 2012! There you can read more about this estate and wine. This is a wonderfully subtle, voluptuous, rich wine at the top of its game (unlike the rather embryonic Sea Smoke and gently-coasting-downhill Calera).
This nuanced, spicy, ethereal pale ruby wine may not have great structure and I would not cellar it for a decade, but the most amazing aspect of it is it price, which I looked up on Christie's wifi network while we tasted. According to wine-searcher.com, you can find it for as little as $18.88 in the US and at its most it is $24.99. I can only imagine that those retailers selling it at these prices have not tasted it. If this were a burgundy, and it tastes like the most seductive representative of the Côte de Beaune you could imagine, you would not be surprised to be asked to pay a three-figure sum for a bottle of this wine. I have tasted it three times since January last year and have given it scores of 17, 17.5 and 17.5.
Alas it is not quite such a bargain in the UK. Hand Picked Burgundy are selling the wine above, which may well be the Estate rather than Village bottling, at £36 a bottle and Four Walls Wine have a few bottles at a similar price. Prices rise quite steeply for individual bottlings and the one slightly confusingly known as Estate is a notch above the Village bottling.
But I have consistently enthusiastic notes for Mountford Pinots, which are now imported into the UK by Amelia Jukes's company Hallowed Ground. Unfortunately the new Dutch owners and blind winemaker CP Lin have parted company and so the future looks a little uncertain, but I strongly advise you to go and hoover up any dramatically underpriced stock you can find - easiest in the US.
You can learn more from the Hallowed Ground website, from which our picture of CP Lin and Winston is taken. You can also read about Julia's visit last November to Mountford in her article on her Waipara regional tasting. See also my survey of New Zealand's non-Sauvignon potential.
This is the first time I have ever suggested the same wine twice as a wine of the week and it is merely because it is such a steal in the US specifically. In Wine - the affordable luxury I consider the quirks of wine pricing around the world.
Find Mountford Pinots