What to Drink This Weekend - 09/01/17 - Errazuriz Max Reserva Pinot Noir

Wine conversation usually focuses on viticulture; the growing and cultivating of vines to produce grapes, and vinification; the process of turning those grapes into wine. Viticulture and vinification are a combination of science and art, technology and craftsmanship. We praise the skill of the grower and the winemaker, we marvel at the employment of traditional values or the technological innovation invested in the winery. However, one craftsman’s role is overlooked, the role of the Cooper. Our tasting notes are rich with clove, cinnamon and spice. Cream and buttered toast aromatics and the texture and mouthfeel of a wine - none of which would be possible without the subtle use of oak. Several years ago, I visited a cooper in Bordeaux, France and witnessed the skilled and manual process of creating a French Oak barrel. Starting in the forest, before a tree is felled, the cooper looks at how the tree grows, assessing how straight the wood and how fine the grain. The oak is cut into staves, following the natural lines of the grain before undergoing a long process of seasoning. Eventually, when the time comes to make a barrel, the cooper handpicks each stave, shaping, charring and toasting the wood so each barrel imparts the right flavour profile.

This weekend I will open a bottle of Errazuriz Max Reserva Pinot Noir, and raise a glass to the skill of the grower, the vision of the winemaker and the craftsmanship of the cooper. The vineyard overseen with an expert eye, is located on Chile’s Pacific Coast so has a cool climate and its soils give the wine high acidity and clean minerality. The handpicked grapes were taken to the winery, equipped with modern technology to ferment. When the winemaker judged it ready, the wine was racked in French Oak to undergo malolactic fermentation for 12 months. The wine, whist still youthful has a bright bitter cherry fruit character with delicious aromatics of tobacco leaf, smoke, clove and pinot noir's sweet farmyard soil aromatic with subtle dried fig and hints of coffee.

Available at good wine retailers and priced between $17-$20. Cheers!

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