Tasting Reviews

Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir and Prosciutto

It is a gastronomic truth that Pinot Noir is best matched by duck. The reality is that there are many foods that go extremely well with Pinot Noir, including the heavier meats such as pork, beef and venison. Some argue that lamb may be a lesser pairing. Of course, there are an infinite number of variables, and the style of Pinot Noir has an enormous influence on the matching as does the cooking of the food and the sauces that accompany the main feature. And then again, there’s individual taste and perception. There’s a touch of science, a lot more art and a heck of a lot of subjectivity in the end.

One Pinot Noir food match that is certain is with prosciutto and dried ham. The team at Cloudy Bay in Marlborough put this to the test to show a group of wine and food writers and industry personnel at an event held at Foxglove Bar and Kitchen on Queen’s Wharf in Wellington. There, Kat Wiggins, Cloudy Bay’s communications manager, along with Moet Hennessy N.Z. representative Nicola Clay put together a range of food featuring prosciutto to match with their 2015 Cloudy Bay Marlborough and Cloudy Bay ‘Te Wahi’ Central Otago Pinot Noirs. www.cloudybay.co.nz

Nicola Clay, Moet Hennessy N.Z. & Kat Wiggins, Cloudy Bay 

The Introduction
Kat Wiggins opened the proceedings with a background to the iconic Cloudy Bay operation, founded in 1985, producing the world famous Sauvignon Blanc, followed by Chardonnay in 1986, then method in 1987 and Pinot Noir in 1989. The first commercial release of a Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir was in 1994. Nowadays, Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir is a wonderful example of serious Pinot Noir made from fruit from the clay soils of the Southern Valleys.

Cloudy Bay began exploration of Central Otago Pinot Noir in 2010, which led to the purchase of ‘Northburn Station’, on the eastern side of Lake Dunstan, just out of Cromwell, and this has been followed by the long-term lease of a portion of the famous ‘Calvert’ vineyard in Bannockburn. The Cloudy Bay ‘Te Wahi’ Central Otago Pinot Noir is an equal blend of fruit from both sites. The fruit is transported refrigerated from Central Otago to be made at the Marlborough winery.

The Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir programme has come under the stewardship of senior winemaker Tim Heath, who joined the company in 2005. The quality of all the wines remains consistent as ever, if not showing continued detailed improvements. The wines can be regarded among the top tier of Marlborough. It was recently announced that Tim will finish with Cloudy Bay in May to take up the position of winemaker at Katnook in Coonawarra, South Australia, made vacant by the passing of Wayne Stehbens last year. It is a loss to Cloudy Bay, but company winemakers Victor Joyeaux and Daniel Sorrell will be stepping up supported by junior team members and overseen by long time viticulturist Jim White in his new role as Technical Director.

After Kat’s introduction, Eric Lee, chef at Foxglove gave an informative background to the history and production of prosciutto and dried hams, with a focus on Italian and Spanish versions, which are deemed to be the best. He distinguished between the Italian prosciutto crudo (uncooked) and procuitto cotto (cooked), and the Spanish jamon serrano of specific origin, and jamon iberico, of wider provenance.

We were then graced by Kate Marinkovich of ‘Tomboy Cakery’ in Wellington who specialises in making platters incorporating prosciutto. She described the essential aspects to show the platter at the best with the use of varied ingredients, some of which were surprising! Attendees were then invited to create their own platters from a wealth of ingredients loaded on the table. And then, of course taste the wines for their matching!

Cloudy Bay have partnered with a number of restaurants nationwide to promote the pairing of their Pinot Noir with prosciutto throughout May. They are, Auckland: Harbourside Ocean Bar and Grill, Botswana Butchery Auckland, Grand Mercure, Hugo’s, Gerome, Headquarters, Pullman Hotel, Gusto, Vivace. Christchurch: Bloody Mary’s, OGB, Universo, JDV, Fiddlesticks/ No.4. Queenstown: Botswana Butchery, The Grille by Eichardts, Eidcharts Bar, The Spire. Wellington: Intercontinental, Grand Mercure, Foxglove. Havelock North: Malo. Ruapehu District: Chateau Tongarairo. Taupo: The Hilton Lake Taupo. Dunedin: Bacchus. For more information, go to: www.cloudybaypinotandprosciutto.co.nz

The Wines
My focus, of course was on the wines and how they tasted. I offer my comments here.

Cloudy Bay Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015
Dark, deep, ruby-red colour with slight garnet hues, a little lighter on the edge. The bouquet is full, rich and densely packed with complex secondary aromas with layers of aromatic and savoury dark-red berry fruits, entwined with notes of dried herbs, a little undergrowth and suggestions of game, unfolding dark herbs. This has plenty of energy and life within. Medium-full bodied, the palate is softly full with harmonious layers of savoury dark-red berry fruits along with dried herbs and game, with undergrowth elements. The mouthfeel is plush, with excellent acidity adding to the lusciousness. The fruit forms a tight core with piquant intensity, and the palate is supported by very fine-grained, supple tannin extraction. The complex flavours carry to a very long, lingering finish. This is a rich, plush, seamless and savoury, complex Pinot Noir that will match mushroom dishes and game meat over the next 6+ years. Fruit from the Southern Valleys, indigenous yeast fermented with 13% whole bunches to 13.5% alc., the wine spending 18 days on skins and aged 12 months in 35% new French oak barrels. 19.0-/20 Apr 2018 RRP $45.50

Cloudy Bay ‘Te Wahi’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
Full, deep, dark ruby-red colour with youthful purple hues, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is very fresh and bright redolent of fragrant violet florals and perfumes. This has elegance. firmness and depth, unfolding a concentrated core of bright and vibrant dark-red and black cherry and berry fruit entwined with dark thyme herbs. The aromatics build in depth and density whilst retaining vitality. Medium-full bodied, the fruit is vibrant and lifted with bright dark-red and black berried fruits, melded with dark herbs and an array of florals. Some black mineral suggestions emerge. The palate possesses fine-grained tannin extraction lending a refined, but firm structure, with mouthwatering freshness from the acidity. This exudes perfumes and richness, and the concentrated flavours show excellent linearity and length. This is a vibrant, black-fruited, aromatic and fine-structured Pinot Noir with plush fruitiness. Serve with lamb, beef and venison over the next 6-8+ years. Equal portions of fruit from ‘Northburn Station’ and the ‘Calvert’ vineyard, Bannockburn, indigenous yeast fermented with 15% whole bunches to 14.0% alc., the wine spending 15-22 days on skins and aged 12 months in 30% new French oak. 19.0+/20 Apr 2018 RRP $99.00

A Final Thought
My preference was for the Cloudy Bay ‘Te Wahi’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015 with my prosciutto platter. If there was more aged meats and maybe mushroom and savoury elements, it may have been the Cloudy Bat Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015 that might have been the better match…
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