Back in February I made up a list of things to do for this blog, and one was to stick to a consistent format when writing about a wine, making sure to do a little research and to cover a few details about region, grape variety and producer. Now that I’ve been doing that for a month and a half, it feels like forever, so it was something of a shock to look back at the previous Pinot Blanc I tasted back in December to find that I didn’t write anything meaningful about the grape, about Alsace, or even about the producer. Then again, I was just a struggling student then, and now that I’m a Diploma graduate, I really need to lift my game a bit. And with that, it’s time for a look at the Mosquito Hill Artisan Series Pinot Blanc 2010.
Since I wrote nearly nothing about it as a grape last time, Pinot Blanc is a classic variety from the family that brought you the better known Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Originally French and most commonly associated with Alsace (where it is sometimes known as Klevner), it’s grown widely across Europe, and is known in Italy as Pinot Bianco and in Austria as Weissburgunder. It does well in the cool climate of Alsace and the northern limits of grape production in Europe, and had medium to high yields. It can provide good sugar levels and therefore must weights, but it often lacks acidity.
Mosquito Hill is from the Southern Fleurieu Geographical Indication, which is worth a moment or two. South Australia has no shortage of wine regions, with some such as the Barossa Valley and Coonawarra being fairly well known. Southern Fleurieu is between the two, roughly an hour and a half by car south of Adelaide and making up the peninsula that reaches out toward Kangaroo Island. Though grapes have been grown there since the 1850s, in modern wine terms it’s a relatively new area as most vines were destroyed in a bush fire over 100 years ago and it’s only recently been recultivated. The climate is described as Mediterranean with a strong maritime influence, and rain mostly in winter. It’s somewhat cooler than the nearby McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek in the growing seasons, and there is a wide range of altitude. The soil is sandy loam and gravel over limestone. Every site I look at lists a different set of what it claims to be the most commonly grown grapes in the region, but suffice to say Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are certainly produced, as are Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
It’s worth noting that the Southern Fleurieu Geographical Indication is not the same as the Fleurieu Zone, which includes Currency Creek, Kangaroo Island, Langhorne Creek, McLaren Vale, and Southern Fleurieu. A somewhat useful map can be found here.
Mosquito Hill is a small, family run winery that was started in 1994 by Glyn and Elizabeth Jamieson. They started with plantings of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and expanded into Pinot Blanc and what was at the time thought to be Albarino and turned out instead to be Savagnin Blanc. In addition to varietals from the grapes listed, they also produce a Méthode Champenoise Blanc de Blancs and a still rosé from a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay .
I visited their stand at the Cellar Door Wine Festival a month back, and was intrigued by this wine for three reasons. First, it’s Pinot Blanc, which is somewhat rare in Australia – Vinodiversity lists only a half dozen wineries producing it. Second, the grapes are foot trod. Obviously they’re not the only producer to stomp on grapes, and subsequently we employed it this year on our Pinot Noir (and when I say we, I don’t mean my poor feet, I mean the winemaker), but still, it’s nice. And finally, the production levels are incredibly small. The bottle says that no more than three barrels of a wine in the Artisan series are made each year, and I am pretty sure I remember them saying that they only made one barrel of this Pinot Blanc. Assuming standard barriques, you get at most 300 bottles per barrel, or 25 dozen, which means there just isn’t that much of this wine to go around.
This wine was a slightly dull gold with thin sheeting on the sides of the glass. On the nose was a developing character of medium intensity, with lemon, blossom and honey being at the fore. It was dry on the palate in terms of there not being any residual sugar, but the flavour profile overall had a hint of sweetness backing the lemon, cereal, and yellow flower notes and honey finish. It had a very pleasing texture to go along with a fairly full body and more acidity than I would have expected from a Pinot Blanc.
I enjoyed this wine, and I do think it is especially well made, though for some reason the note that I most remember is that it came across as what would be a very good breakfast wine. To be honest, I don’t normally take wine with breakfast, apart from the odd Mimosa, but if I had to pair something with pancakes or waffles, this would be the wine. Take that as you will.
And on a slightly meta note, I’ve largely made an effort to post something everyday. However, in terms of intended audience, I think weekend posts get a bit lost, and so I’m going to only be pushing out new content on a Monday to Friday basis. Ironically, I actually do see more traffic on the weekends, but I think much of that is down to people using the expression drunk.com in tweets, which has very much to do with this domain name but very little to do with most of the content on the site.