It’s Not About The Wine is one of my oft used phrases, at home when imbibing, on holiday, visiting vineyards, or blogging about wine. What I mean is that there’s MORE to tasting or drinking wine than the bottle, or what’s in your glass. Heidegger would call it “Being, or Being and time” with a capital B, and although I don’t want to get into a minefield of existentialism it is worth pointing out that many wines I taste or drink have Being. The aroma alone conjures up memories or a “network” of related issues, people, places for example. It also invokes comparisons …. is it as good as the previous vintage, the same wine from a different producer, or village, or field even? This is Being!
Last week we had to cancel our upcoming trip to Burgundy, originally intending to visit winemaker friends in Chablis and Pommard to buy and add to our collection. The collection has three grades of wine we buy, 3⭐️ for everyday drinking wines, 4⭐️ for wines that will mature, improving with age, and 5⭐️ for wines that will appreciate as investments. We needed to top up the 3⭐️ category having sorted the other two categories from our Summer visit to the Loire Valley in July.
I have scoured the planet for a decent 3⭐️ Pinot Noir that is NOT from Burgundy and better value than that available in UK supermarkets. To compare, I can buy village grade red Burgundy in and around Beaune for approximately £9 per bottle, reasonable Premier Cru Volnay for £28 per bottle, and Grand Cru Pommard for £38 per bottle. Buy the same wines in the UK and the prices double, so I don’t! The problem is that you CAN buy red basic Burgundy in England for £10-£12, but it’s mostly awful as I have discovered to my cost! Nothing like the same stuff from good producers at their vineyards. This is why I have searched and searched for many years without success.
Until last weekend, when I discovered Villa Maria, Cellar Selection Pinot Noir 2016 from New Zealand at £10 in Asda and £12 in Tesco and £12.79 in Waitrose. It’s an absolute cracker and knocks the spots off similar priced Burgundy. I’m not going to write tasting notes in the infamous Fruit Salad Bingo style, but if you want to taste a red wine that approximates to a Premier Cru in Burgundy, this is it. And so, It’s Not About The Wine, it’s about the way these brilliant winemakers in Marlborough, New Zealand, have grown a terroir driven wine that existentially transports you into the heart of Burgundy. And the strap line on their website …. No great wine ever came from a spreadsheet!