Bargain Pinot Noir is almost an oxymoron. Chile has long been able to offer a range of relatively inexpensive Pinots and exceptionally good, underpriced examples occasionally pop up elsewhere, usually just one vintage in a series of less successful ones. The other day I tasted Chacra, Barda Pinot Noir 2009 Patagonia made by the southern Argentine outfit in which Incisa della Rochetta of Sassicaia fame has an interest and which has some seriously old Pinot vines in its vineyards. This toothsome example is made from younger vines and has a certain earthiness but I really liked it. It would be a terrifically sneaky wine to give anyone blind but at £18.95 from Lea & Sandeman in London, for example, it hardly qualifies as a bargain. Purple pagers can read my tasting note on Barda 2009.
But my wine of the week is a seriously underpriced Pinot Noir from Australia's Pinot state, Plunkett Fowles, Blackwood Ridge Pinot Noir 2008 Central Victoria from higher ground in the state of Victoria, that is currently being sold by unusual UK online retailer Naked Wines at just £7.99. According to Naked's records on orders and reactions to them, 90% of the 1,834 people they say bought this wine would buy it again and I'm not surprised. It has none of the ersatz sweetness, jamminess nor beetroot aromas of some inexpensive Pinots but really quite strongly suggests the integrity and appealing dryness (as opposed to sweetness) of such great Pinot Noirs grown north of Melbourne such as Bindi (now being imported into the UK by Caves de Pyrène) and the glorious Curly Flat.
What I like about this wine is that it has real freshness and structure. It's not concentrated and it's clearly not going to improve, but would make a lovely wine without food or with something fairly delicate any time this year. It should on no account be served too warm – sort of cellar temperature would be fine.
Plunkett Fowles is the label for wines made by Sam Plunkett and Matt Fowles, producers whom Naked Wines' 'angels' came across When Naked went to the Fair… This means that unlike most of the wines offered by Naked Wines, the Plunkett Fowles wines were not financed by Naked and they do not qualify for the usual 33% cashback due to 'angel' investors who agree to pay £20 a month towards Naked's investment programme (see Naked's new wheeze and Naked Wines suppliers show off).
You can read much more about Plunkett Fowles on their website, including details of their memorably named Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch label. Both Plunkett and Fowles families own vineyards in the exciting Strathbogie Ranges region and the two families got together for this wine venture in 2005. It was only in 2007 that the two families are related via their respective mothers' ancestry. I recommend you look out for the wines of this enterprising pair.
It seems only right to be recommending a hand-crafted Australian this week when Richard and I had the pleasure of wallowing in Liberty Wines' Australian tasting where the likes of Vanya Cullen, Bill Downie, John Duval, Jeff Grosset, Tim (Clonakilla) Kirk and Stephanie Toole were pouring their idiosyncratic best. There is so much more to Australia than mass market offerings and critter brands…