Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Pinot Noir for Brunch at the Finborough Wine Cafe

When I lived in the Finborough Road hinterland in the early seventies, I never thought this rat run between Chelsea and Kangaroo Valley could ever be the right spot for a peaceful wine tasting:  It's taken me forty years to realise how deliciously wrong I've been, for early this month I fell upon the Finborough Wine Cafe, jutting like a proud ship's bow above the racing traffic. Amazingly peaceful inside, it has a lovely ambience and the sight of good grilled bread and hams set me up for a long session. We were here to appreciate the breadth of the Awin Barratt Siegel (ABS)'s Portfolio of Pinot Noirs, with special emphasis on Germany.The blurb quoted Raymond Blanc who lauded the young staff for really knowing their stuff..... "I have discovered so many new wines through them," trilled the jolly professional Frenchman and culinary maestro of BBC 2. Great Raymond wasn't wrong. This was a riveting tasting, a journey across the world with fine things on at least three continents.

ground hog engrossed
    The centrepiece for me was the Burgstadt Franconian estate of Paul Furst and his son Sebastian, the golden boy of Spaetburgunder who presented the wines in London, also in Badneuenahr -Ahrweillwer the week before. Sebastian studied in Beaune and the Cote d'Or is clearly his lodestar;  even if the flavours of Burgstadt are sensibly different from Burgundy, the Franconian emanating from sandstone and weathered loam soils, rather than the argylo-calcaire of the Cote. Sebastian's two finest wines, Grosses Gewaechs  Pinots Noir Centgrafenberg and Hunsruck in the sensuous 2009 vintage are fine grands crus by any standard - the Centgrafenberg of poised, layered fruit and spice, the Hunsruck -over red sandstone - stronger, of great depth and gravitas. The prices though are stiff, neither giving much change from £80 a bottle RRP. Named German Red Wine Collection in 2011, this accolade has magnified the fame of the estate, the downside of which is the pricing policy.
Sebastian Furst

Don't despair,  also shown was the Pinot Noir Tradition 2010 of Jean Stodden of  Rech in the Ahr, a respected leader in the valley but a new entrant to the ABS portfolio. Fully worth £21, of clear shimmering ruby, a class act of freshness, energy and burgeoning vinosity, this intellectual wine showed that you can make very fine Pinot over slate. And, finally,the bargain of the Tasting was the Chamonix 2010 Pinot Noir Reserve (£16.99) - redolent of delicate woodland red fruits touched by the mineral deposits from the great  peaks above Franschhoek in South Africa's Cape. Surely one of the most beautiful places on earth? Enjoy.

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