Pinot Noir Battle: Canada vs. South Africa

We here in Ontario are certainly familiar with Niagara’s Flat Rock Cellars Chardonnay, Rosé, Gewurztraminer and Riesling all jolly well top end. How about their Pinot Noir? Having visited the winery within certain lockdown periods their Pinot Noir is good stuff!

So let us get the cockfight going here with a sharp clawed Flat Rock Cellars Pinot Noir in one corner. While the aroma is definitely a PN it is laid back like a hooker in the shadows of Niagara Falls not wanting to draw to much attention to the wares for sale. Given COVID on my last visit there were a whopping 50 tourists at the Falls. One rare advantage of COVID and that is having the Falls to yourself! And free parking!

As for aromas on the delicate side a bit like Joe Biden. Rather like a mature raspberry and strawberry essence. Smooth on the palate. Perfectly measured tannins and acids. A short finish. Very light and aristocratic elements of raspberry, strawberry and rhubarb pie. Moderate finish. Really discrete oak here and I suspect older French oak that refuses to interfere with the essence of Pinot Noir. Can I say restrained and bordering on elegant and a classic Niagara Pinot Noir at an affordable price?

As for a rooster in the ring a real dancer evading devastating claw slashes by its fancy footwork. Certainly not in the Gangs of New York super champion category which rarely succeeds with a Pinot Noir.

(Flat Rock Cellars 2019 Pinot Noir, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Flat Rock Cellars, Jordan, Ontario, $22.95. LCBO # 1545, 12.5%, 750 mL, Robert K. Stephen a little birdie told me so Rating 89/100).

In the other corner is a Sutherland Pinot Noir from South Africa. On the nose some mid weight raspberry and red cherry with some strawberry. On the palate a bit grippy. Dilute raspberry and cherry that just is not consistent with its attractive aroma. I am encountering this disjoint between aroma and taste more frequently in the past few years. Don’t get me wrong. This is not a crappy wine it just lacks more assertiveness on the palate. It is very drinkable but if only the palate contained more character and charisma. It definitely needs decanting for at least 45 minutes to make its claw slashes more devastating.

The label notes the wine has been aged 9 months in French oak which I suspect to be older French oak i.e. used 3 or 4 times. 15% was aged in new French oak.

It just may improve by 2022 but I would not go beyond that.

Unfortunately, not having visited South Africa a food matching might be difficult but I might suggest a match with Pasta e Ceci a recipe for which you can find here. Chickpeas with pasta a classic Roman dish!

(Sutherland Pinot Noir 2018, WO Elgin, Thelema Mountain Vineyards, Helshoogte, Stellenbosch, South Africa, $19.95, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 624924, 750 mL, 14%, Robert K. Stephen a little birdie told me so Rating 89/100).

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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