Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir

Hamilton Russell Vineyards
Pinot Noir
Hemel-en-Aarde Valley
Walker Bay
Hermanus, S. Africa
$25.99 -- Twin Liquors, Austin, TX

Color: Medium garnet
Nose: Cherry cola, venison, mint, stewed orange
Body: Medium
Front: Dried cranberry, mint
Middle: Tart but creamy fizziness, lemon
Back: Olive, charred oak, tar
Burns clean?: Yes
Cap: Cork

This is a damn strange wine, as the flavor descriptions above perhaps suggest. It's smoky, earthy, minty--loaded with personality. This is not a crowd-pleaser, though it would be really fun to see what a large group of not-everyday wine drinkers would make of it. I like it a lot. It has the lightness of body and the intensity of flavor of really good Pinot. The smokiness, a sort of minty smokiness, if that makes any kind of sense, is something I've experienced in South African reds before, so I suspect it has something to do with either terroir or the oak that they use. Whatever it is, this wine doesn't bore me, like so many Pinots do--if you like a little stank on it, give this a try.