A recent relentless travelling and business schedule in France had me pushed to the west, direction Bordeaux, throwing the flavours of Pauillac, Sauternes, duck hearts and Arcachon oysters at me with such feverish abandon that I did not even get around to drinking one red Burgundy during my stay. Okay, I did enquire at a wine market, once, but asking for Burgundy in the French west is pretty much like requesting a hymn-sheet at a Die Antwoord concert.
One of the first things I thus did upon returning was venture to the old wine rack in search of a good Pinot. And hey, seeing I was back on local terra firma, let’s make it a South African number.
The bottle of Dalla Cia Pinot Noir is hard to miss. A white wax capsule over the cork, almost Papal in its virginity, sits atop a lovely big bottle of thick, weighty glass. The label is navy and cream, bearing the Dalla Cia crest in all its glory.
Picking up the heavy bottle and almost spraining my wrist, which was still sensitive from the European chill, I paused to wonder about all this anti-heavy glass nonsense spewed by persons terribly concerned about the future of the Greater Northern Mongolian Dung Beetle which is bound to perish a long and painful death due to the carbon omissions caused by producing said weighty bottle.
Heaven’s sake when it comes to style, why hold back? Good wine deserves style. Heavy bottle, thick cork, assertive label?+¦?+º?-¼?+¦?+º?-¼if the wine deserves forward packaging and tastes good enough I will definitely sacrifice a few natural species to ensure sustainable vinous enjoyment.
Giorgio Dalla Cia, maker of this Pinot Noir, is a well-known master in the South African wine world, and a Pinot Noir aficionado. Although this is the first Pinot in his own stable since leaving Meerlust, the Maestro obviously having waited for the right fruit from which to produce the kind of excellence he is famous for.
The grapes come from Stellenbosch’s Polkadraai-region, next to the vineyards of De Toren. Lots of southerly wind this, with good whack of clay in the soil. But Pinot Noir country?
Yes, I am glad to state.
And a remarkable addition to the number of splendid Pinot Noirs coming out of South Africa, and one which will hopefully enhance our reputation as a country capable of producing a diverse array of quality wines expressing the country in which they are made.
Being from clay soils, the Dalla Cia 2011 is a big number, all ruby ink and maraschino cherry. The perfume she is heady. Autumn oak leaves and wild mushrooms that have been left next to the smoky fire for three days.
This intense fruit, Gevrey-like in power, would command new wood, and this is what Giorgio did. 100% French, thank you very much. Now, a lot has been made of Pinot producers using a blend of new and second-fill even third but when you have grapes of such intensity you are going to be a real dick not to give it the full Monty and take the risk of losing expression and potence.
The result is a wine whose texture is the first thing that hits the palate. Succulent as aforementioned Arcachon oyster and with the velvety unctuousness of a seared duck heart. After the initial attack, Dalla Cia Pinot proceeds to overwhelm an array of senses and to do the can-can over a number of pleasure buttons. Headiness comes to mind, a feral flavour which includes tart savoury living body parts, crushed pimento and something fine and floral.
Best part? This is South African. The alcohol is a restrained 13%, but a friendly, bright sunniness hangs over the wine which for a 2011 is already splendidly drinkable.
It really is a beautiful wine, and worth coming home to.
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