Koonara Family Reserve The Desolate Soil Pinot 2012
I have never visited Koonara winery in South Australia but I had their cellar door experience at Sydney Good Food and Wine Show 2015. There I met Koonara owner Dru Reschke and had a friendly chat with him while tasting the wines. I found the best balance of value and money in Koonara Family Reserve The Desolate Soil Pinot 2012 which was $35 a bottle, right at the top of my buying range. Although the bottle could be aged for 5 more years, its time has come just 12 months after the purchase when I finished older wines in my “cellar”, that is a box under the dining table. How does one gets a cellar, be it imaginary or fair dinkum? It’s simple — you just need to buy more wine than you drink. So I did, but the length of my backlog then was just a year. Anyway, The Desolate Soil Pinot was quite drinkable at the time of the tasting (otherwise, I wouldn’t buy it), so I didn’t regret the reduced cellaring period.
Straight after opening it was fruity, and a bit earthy on the nose, with smooth red berry taste, fresh with very balanced acidity and a touch of tannins. It’s interesting that after 27 months in barrels it didn’t have the overwhelming vanilla flavour, probably because it was French, not American oak, or it could have been a reused cask.
Two days after opening the wine noticeably lightened — the sweet red berry taste became more fresh, shifting to red currant end of scale. In fact I liked it more when it was just opened. I need to review my notes and check what happened to other Pinots after opening but I suspect that it’s one red wine which doesn’t take well to aeration. You see, opening a bottle, then resealing and leaving it closed has the same effect on wine as decanting. But while decanting gives a short-term effect, a few hours, after which the quality deteriorates, re-sealed bottle can slowly absorb oxygen and improve its taste over a period of several days (or even weeks). I successfully did this trick with bolder Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon many times, but lighter-bodied Pinot Noir may not be well-suited to this technique.
The Desolate Soil Pinot wasn’t an easy-drinking wine so I experimented with food pairings. My first match was opportunistic — I drank the wine with whatever was cooked that evening, namely, roast beef in paprika. The pairing was kind of OK but not really impressive. After that I decided to order a more suitable dish. There are many types of food which go well with Pinot Noir, but I followed that universal recommendation — a duck. A good thing about having an aspiring chef in the family is that he can’t refuse a gastronomic request — as they say, noblesse oblige. So I asked my son Ivan to cook a dish with duck, and he delivered. It was delicious, well presented, there was duck in it, but it didn’t have duck taste… because it was duck curry. I don’t know about regular curry eaters but for me the curry taste completely overwhelms any protein filling that happens to be enveloped in it. Anyway, Pinot was not completely wasted in this case as its freshness somewhat offset spice and coconut milk in the curry.
|Name:||Family Reserve The Desolate Soil Pinot|
|Date of purchase:||09/08/20152015|
|Date of tasting:||13/08/20162016|
I also tried to pair Koonara Pinot Noir with a BBQ duck, you know, a mummified bird sold in Asian restaurants. That one also didn’t cut the mustard due to, I believe, the cruel method of terminal cooking it was subjected to. With this wine I haven’t really found an ideal duck match, but our recent visit to Dinner by Heston Blumenthal gave me an idea. There I ordered grilled duck breast and it was served medium-rare with a bit of a smokiness. I was tempted to order a glass of Pinot just to see how well it matched the bird, but we were already drinking champagne and I didn’t want to assault my taste-buds with red wine before we finished the bottle. Nevertheless, this is something I am going to try with the next Pinot Noir. Now that I’ve finished this post, I’ll go and add duck breast to my weekend shopping list.