"When you don’t travel and don’t expose yourself to other situations, you begin to feel you’re the best. Travelling and seeing and listening, you feel that you’re not the best at all. You’re just learning."
These are the words of Alberto Antonini, a Tuscan born consultant winemaker, voted in 2015 as one of the five best winemakers in the world by his peers. Alberto is quoted in an interview published on cluboenologique.com that he likes discovering new places to make wine because it is about unleashing potential. In his view, the wine world is only utilising about 30% of the potential land and grape varieties globally that could be used to make great wine. And in reading his philosophy this week, I was reminded of the benefits of travel, not only literally but in the figurative sense too; in the wine glass. Armchair travel be damned. Travel in the wine glass can take place while sitting in the garden, at the beach or with a book. It can happen with friends or quietly alone, contemplating the beauty of Mother Nature or enjoying solitude in whichever form takes your fancy.
These three wines of the week are all made from one grape variety, Pinot Noir, but they could not be more different. Jura is a cool climate in eastern France, wedged between the Rhone and the Rhine and is home to many edgy wines but also a growing number of accessibly soft, smooth ones, such as the first wine of the week below.
Travelling to the Southern Hemisphere, the other two wines of this week represent the best value under $30 that Martinborough has to offer, in my view, and one of Marlborough's finest expressions of Southern Valleys Pinot Noir from Saint Clair Family Estate.
I treasure all three of these wines as much as I value great travel experiences and the excellence of great writers.
These wines are available from specialist wine stores.
2021 Domaine Maire & Fils Cotes Du Jura Pinot Noir RRP $36.99
Domaine Maire & Fils owns 234 hectares of vineyards in Jura, a region that was formed as a defined wine appellation (legally boundaried wine region) in 1937, situated between Burgundy and Switzerland. It has a cool climate, which suits Pinot Noir well and this example highlights the softness of a wine made for early drinking, but which has savoury aromas and smooth, almost light tannins that make this a great summery red.
Drink lightly chilled to enjoy at its best.
2021 Te Tera Pinot Noir Martinborough RRP $30.99
A lonely road south of Martinborough is home to the Frater's Vineyard, on which all of the grapes in this wine were grown. It can be a slightly cooler site than many in the region and slightly more windy, but the dark earthy aromas that intermingle with gentle savoury spice and black cherry fruit flavours give this wine complexity to burn.
Tastes great with duck wrapped in pancakes with plum sauce or with duck confit or simply on its own with antipasto smoked meats. Delicious and over delivers every vintage.
2021 Saint Clair Family Estate Omaka Reserve Pinot Noir RRP $52ish
Saint Clair Family Estate is one of the oldest and largest wine brands in Marlborough and while its stock in trade may be Sauvignon Blanc, the family makes some of the region's finest Pinot Noirs, of which this silky textured example is the apex, in my view. It is made with grapes grown in the family's Omaka Valley vineyard, situated in Marlborough's Southern Valleys, an area of great promise and potential that comes to fruition in this complex, dark fruited, layered and savoury, elegant Pinot Noir. Delicious.