The focus on individual regions at Pinot 2013 afforded a great opportunity to meet winemakers but not (for me at least) a great opportunity to taste wine properly. I have never mastered the whole glass/booklet/pen/spittoon juggling act nor, more importantly, the ability to taste and make an honest assessment under the watchful (and sometimes, extremely beady) eye of the winemaker.
To make a judgement call and review a wine properly, I’d rather taste away from distractions, than in the jostling, hurly burly of a packed room. Perhaps there could be a return to the format that was used at the annual London NZ Wine tasting many moons ago, which was to have all the wines lined up centrally so that tasters could work through the wines uninterrupted, leaving winemakers free to talk to those interested.
Unless you are one of those members of the media who considers themselves uber-important, stomping around tasting then retreating to a corner to thrash out notes as if their life depended on it, I prefer to potter around catching up with people.
My freewheeling style meant I finally got to meet and have a talk to Jules Taylor. One of my pet theories is that no miserable person ever makes great wine. It may be competent, sound, fault free etc etc but it never reaches the heights nor touches the soul. (Conversely there are many lovely winemakers who make either brilliant, competent or really quite ordinary wine but somehow seem to make the whole experience cheerful. I’d take a glass ordinary wine made by a chirpy person over one weighed down with the self importance of the maker any day).
Fortunately Jules turned out to be a delight and I liked her immediately. So it was a great relief when I retasted the 2011 Jules Taylor Pinot Noir and found my initial impression, formed at Pinot 2013, was spot on. Very silky and textural with lots of redcurrant, soft raspberry and strawberry with a layer of creamy nutmeg and sweet spicy oak gently overlaying the fruit. Immediately appealing and simply delicious.