Monday, July 8, 2013

Mud House single vineyard Pinot Noir, Otago, New Zealand (merchants)

I believe in Reaganomics. I believe in "trickle-down" theory and that whatever happens at the top will make its way to the bottom.

grapes at Mud House harvest
So when my friend and colleague from Renaissance Wine Merchants came over for our ritual bottle (or two) of wine and a good cigar, I felt inspired to find out who was leading the charge at Mud House Wines. I've never claimed to be an expert on Pinot Noir... oh sure I love a good one as much as the next wine-geek, but sometimes the subtleties escape me.

Nothing escaped my attention when I tried this wine. It's big, bold and beautiful, lined with a precise minerality worthy of Burgundy, and yet the expression is pure New Zealand. My researcher instincts got me asking the usual Who, What, Where, When and Why. Of course, I already knew everything except for the Who. Or did I?

Ben Glover is one of the two winemakers for this winery that exemplifies holistic and sustainable viticulture. I almost wasn't surprised when I found out that Ben was selected as the New Zealand representative scholar to the inaugural Lee Evans Tutorial ( ). If you've never heard of this outrageously high-powered week of wine tastings and seminars, fret not, only a dozen applicants are selected to participate from the entire World of Wine and this years' attendees include a Master of Wine and a Master Sommelier...

The list of wines these fine folks get to swirl, sip and spit (or not) would make any budding oenophile dizzy with jealousy: Haut-Brion, Salon, Chave Hermitage, Romanée Conti... I was completely humbled when I started reading the list. And by the end? By the end of the list I think I understood Ben Glover and his wine-making a little bit better.

Now that I've been writing about wines for over three years, many of the wines I scored in my first 6 months I might score differently now. It's not that the wine has changed, but my point-of-reference surely has. Perhaps it's the same for a wine-maker? I hear so many of them say time and time and time again "If you want to make great wines, you need to drink great wines."

And so here is a man, Ben, who whilst helping his wife to raise their four children (when do you sleep man??) takes a week sabbatical to the wine-Mecca. Or maybe the wine-MIT is more accurate as the Len Evans Tutorial is really about expanding knowledge! Well Ben had to go - right? As a board member for both Wine Marlborough and the great Pinot Noir 2013 Celebration, Ben had an obligation to go develop his lexicon of wine.

Yet Ben would probably be the guy first to say "Mud House making great wine is about more then just me!"

You're absolutely right Ben, but like I said; I believe in Reaganomics. I believe in trickle-down theory. I've seen what happens when great people put in the effort for someone at the top who just isn't as passionate as they are. You know what happens, right? Not very much.

There is a driving force behind Mud House wines that is creating its own ecosystem of passion, ambition and dedication. Ben Glover may only be one cog in the machinery, but what does it say about the people operating the machine that they can attract leaders like Ben?

Try a glass and find out!

2009 Mud House SWAN Pinot Noir
Riverlands Estate
Marlborough, Central Otago, New Zealand
92 points
in Canada, contact
  • visual:   clear; full garnet core with ruby/cherry rim, slight bricking
  • nose:   clean; fully intense youthful yet developing aromas of thyme and lavender infused cherry compote, red flowers (roses), peppercorns, warm earth, new leather
  • palate:   clean; dry, medium+ red cherry acid, medium+ grippy tannin, medium- body, medium+ alcohol (14% ABV), medium+ youthful flavors that are in-line with the bouquet; the fresh red berry-tones are awash in wild herbs and a savory-scrub-brush serious sous-bois undertone, minerality is a keen presence as the palate finishes with warm earth and wood notes. Very good balance, excellent structure and medium+ length
  • conclusion:   at 4 years old, this wine is still in the bloom of youth. Integrated tannin, balanced acid, concentration and layering all yield a score into the low 90's. Enjoy now with or without decanting, or cellar and enjoy 2013-2017
  • FOOD PAIRING:   these crisp red berry tones will delight with fresh fish; consider fresh BC Albacore tuna tataki with sambal-infused Kewpie mayo and miso-glazed soba noodle salad ... a little fat from the mayo, some spice to balance, the salty-miso contrasts and earthy soba noodle enhance the natural earthy tones

As always my friends, I look forward to your comments; here or on Twitter @ AStudentofWine

CINCIN~!!!     SLAINTE~!!!     CHEERS~!!!

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