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Hey Ocean! – “Bicycle”: 2011 Pierre Sparr “Charisma” Pinot Gris

Tasting Note:

Eyes: clear, pale gold, legs
Nose: clean, med+ intensity, youthful, mineral, stone fruit, peach, apricot, creaminess, red apple, flint, mango, musky/smoky, (malolactic?)
Mouth: dry (to off-dry), med+ body, med acid, med finish, med+ flavour intensity, med+ alcohol, stone fruit, smoke, oiliness, peach, apricot, creamy, ripe apple, flint, peach pith
All in all: Good quality: the wine has decent balance with the typical slight oiliness of Alsatian Pinot Gris and the whisper of residual sugar – but the wine lacks a bit of complexity. Drink now; not suitable for ageing.

2011 Pierre Sparr "Charisma" Pinot GrisSo much for cutting down on alcohol for the new year. I’ve allocated a sort of strict alcohol budget for myself, but I’m already trying to find loopholes. I spent more than I should have on spirits last fall because of the diploma exam in November, and I still have so many leftovers. I’m trying to force myself to sip on some of the hard stuff whenever I feel like a drink, but wine is definitely the drink of choice, and I’m most certainly beer’d out for the time being. Craving something a bit riper, my colleagues were surprised when I wanted something as loud as Gew, but I settled on this because I haven’t done the Pinot Gris in a while and I wanted something with a bit of meat on the bones without being, well, Gewurz.

The wine suits almost exactly what I was craving. There is a bit of sweetness that sits on the fence between the camps of dry and off-dry, and the wine has a bit of typical oiliness. The juicy stone fruit (with a suggestion of mango) on the palate is pleasantly replaced by a vibrant minerality and just a sparkle of medium acid. There is a bit of bitter pith character on the finish which perhaps stemmed from the extraction of the phenols. Or something like that.

There is always something that I find so strange but relaxed and effortless about Alsatian Pinot Gris. It’s not the grassiness of Sauvignon Blanc that exudes to me the archetypal image of a sunny green meadow, but the relaxed texture and structure of Pinot Gris. Sort of the stuff you’d drink to Hey Ocean!’s “Bicycle”.

I’m really in love with fuller-bodied styles of Pinot Gris because it’s exactly what people don’t expect. They are the honeyed and exotic side of the coin to the Pinot Grigio of Italy. Oz Clarke (in “Grapes & Wines”) goes on to say that some have “the merest suggestion of something slightly unwashed […] many of the most memorable wines have something slightly ‘incorrect’ about them.” It’s a bit of a strange misfit in a sea of fresh Pinot Grigio-style wines, ironic because of its inevitable European history and connoisseur-like familiarity.

Is winter over, yet?

Producer: Pierre Sparr
 Pinot Gris
 January 4, 2014


DipWSET, Certified Sommelier, garbage person.

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