Picardy wine tasting at Lamont’s

I seem to refer to the story behind the label a lot. Why? Well, without a story, I feel a wine is well, just ‘wine’ and when I say ‘wine’ I mean an alcoholic beverage that you can appreciate for its aroma, taste, texture, depth and flavour. But without knowing say how the wine was made, what work was done in the vineyard, what the winemaker did, who he/she is or their inspiration, I feel it’s just half the story.  It’s not always possible to know the full story all the time and caught short on time, you can at least be able to read the back label or check out the website of that winery.

A selection of the Picardy wines at Lamont's

A selection of the Picardy wines at Lamont's

In any case, where possible, I feel it’s important to know about what you consume and provenance. People are starting to go back to shopping at farmer’s markets or rather looking for cheaper options than some of the larger chains. Perhaps it is all to do with the global financial crisis that still looms or perhaps it is more taking stock of what you have and how to live within your means more effectively. Still, provenance is something that I am looking into more and understanding in my advancing years. And this view I take with wine, I should start doing with food. At the moment I don’t ask at the markets where the food comes from and sometimes I don’t buy in season which my grandmother would no doubt have something to say about that – very pro local and in season!

So what are winemakers doing in the vineyard? What are they planting between the vines and why?

I went to the Picardy tasting last Monday night at Lamont’s and learnt much more about what’s going on in the vineyard. Having set up Moss Wood in 1967 in Margaret River, then involved with the Pousse d’Or and Smithbrook, the Pannell family bought land in Pemberton in 1989 and set up Picardy. Creating a winery in the south, with only a handful of others; Houghton, Vasse Felix, Cullen, Xanadu and building it into the Moss Wood we all knew in the 1980s was no mean feat.

At Picardy they’ve been adding limesand  to the vineyard which shifts the pH levels up on acidic soils and helps add more tannin to the wine. They now use pebbles and sand blend which they add every third year instead of every year. In the past they’ve researched into the effects of using enzymes and reverse osmosis, using different filtrations. They use cover crop to soak up excess water in the ground. The vines here are stressed, they have to search deep down for water. They dry irrigate, hand harvest, produce low yield  – this is just some of what they are doing to do as Bill Pannell writes in his book, ‘Once More Unto the Vine,’ ‘the best marketing plan is to make the best quality wines and to market it at affordable prices.’

I find what they’re doing in the vineyard innovative and I admire them for their research and constant research and developing the vineyard as a results. With the constant aim to make the best wines they can from the soil. At Picardy they whole bunch press the 2012 Chardonnay and hand press to get the tannins out which is not common for whites. Many won’t want to leave a white wine in contact with skins to avoid the tannins.

Pemberton is 400 metres higher than Margaret River so for each 1 metre, it equates to 1 kilometre south. This indicates how cool Pemberton can get. Pemberton’s cooler climate is also due to the cooling air forming over the cold Great Southern Ocean, the coldest and most isolated oceans in the world.

Not only is Picardy working tirelessly in the vineyard, they’re also on the road hosting and attending tastings meeting consumers and talking about their wines. I saw Picardy last Monday at Lamont’s and then they were in Margaret River at the Gourmet Escape over the weekend of the 22-23 November. No doubt they also travel abroad a fair bit too. I need to build a cellar at my house and hide some of these wines away for at least 2-3 years. Perhaps one day I can be like Dan and cellar my wines for at least 3-10 years.

Now onto the wines…there was a discount if bought on the night but below I’ve included the RRP…..

  1. Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2013, 13%, $29.95: Made from 70% Sauvignon from 3 clones and 30% Semillon. The Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc are fermented together. Lovely and fresh on the nose. The palate is fresh, crisp and lovely and well textured finish.
  2. Sauvignon Blanc Semillon (New Release) 2014, 12.5%, $29.95:You can taste there’s a bit more Sauvignon in this wine but I wouldn’t be able to guess it was 10%. It adds slightly more herbaceous notes and is very lively on the palate. It was only bottled in May and was released 2 months ago, in September. Lots of cut grass, lemon curd, very fresh – just delicious.
  3. Chardonnay 2011, 13.5%, $46:Lovely buttery style with hints of nuttiness too. So much depth to it. Hint of lime, nuttiness at the back. Well integrated oak, hint of peach and spicyness.
  4. Chardonnay 2012, 13.5%, $46: The nose had a hint of chalkiness, melon and slight hint of nuttiness. Creamy aromas. On the palate, plenty of lovely freshness. More oak on the palate at first then the freshness follows through coupled with the nuttyness again and cleansed with freshness – such well integrated flavours.
  5. Chardonnay (New Release) 2013, 14%, $46: This is quieter on the nose with aromas of citrus peel and a hint of saw dust – spice from the oak. Refreshing acidity follows through on the palate, with fresh lime, citrus, with a lick of spice.
  6. Pannell Family Pinot Noir (New Release) 2013, 13.5%, $20: On the nose I find there’s hints of black tea, cranberries, black pepper and cherries. On the palate the high acidity is followed through by cranberries and red fruit. This will develop over time when the fruit will become more forward and fill the palate further. Great value at $20.
  7. Pinot Noir 2012, 14%, $46: This has wonderful spice, savoury characteristics, meaty, hint of gamey notes. On the palate the fresh fruit follows through with hints of spice and herbal notes to the wine.
  8. Tête de Cuvée Pinot Noir 2011, $80: Tasting and writing about this wine doesn’t do it justice as you can age it for 10 to 20 years. However on tasting the wine, you can get a sense of what it could be like in the future. On the nose there’s a lot going on; smokyness, savoury aromas, lots of lovely pronounced fruit with hint of floral notes.

The Tête de Cuvée is the best of the vintage made as a separate wine all together with no blending. It is more intense with more complexity. This is a Pinot made from the same five clones as the Picardy Pinot; Droopy, Upright, 114, 115 and 777. In Bill Pannell’s book, ‘Once More Unto the Vine,’ the Droopy clone gives strawberry and melon flavours, the Upright gives ‘under ripe cherry and currant flavours with more assertive tannins which add structure to the resulting wine’, clones 114 and 115 add ‘finesse with classical Pinot flavours to the wine ‘ and clone 777 gives ‘ mid palate flesh. The base of the wine which is 30% is taken from a 0.1 hectare block.

9. Shiraz 2011, 13.5%, $36: Lots of bramble and black pepper fill the glass followed by plus, black pepper and chalky tannins.  There’s also 2% Viognier and 4% Malbec in this and the 2012

10. Shiraz 2012, 14%, $36: There’s fresher brambles, plums and a hint of dark chocolate on the nose with similar aromas on the palate.

11. Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, 13.5%, $33: Aromas of roses from the Merlot and the characteristics from the Cabernet; pencil lead and dark chocolate. On the palate there’s soft and supple fruit with fresh perfumed flavours.

12.Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, 13.5%, $33: I can see what Dan means when he says it ‘dances on the palate.’ Violets and floral notes along with cranberries and black cherries waft from my glass with lots more going on with palate; soft tannins but structured with black cherry, olive, layers of fruit. Lovely.

13. Merlimot (Very Limited) 2011, 13.5%, $48:  This is 55% Merlot, 23% Cabernet, 22% Cabernet France. I was told the Merlimot is the Merlot Cab Sauv but in 5 years time. There’s raisined aromas, secondary fruit, still lovely freshness there with hint of cranberries. On the palate it is structured, with some freshness with some level of flavour, spice, cranberries with hint of secondary fruit. They put some of the 2012 into the 2011 to lift the fruit onto the front palate – about 5% – I think it works very well.

14.Merlimot (New Release) 2012, 13.4%, $48: This is 57% Merlot, 24% Cabernet, 19% Cabernet Franc. “Cooked strawberry” I heard and I agree along with a hint of herbal notes and perfumed scent. There’s the structure there and you can tell it’s younger than the 2011, let’s see what it’s like next year!

 Lamont’s is the importer so you’ll find most of the range in WA. Swanbourne Cellars stock a few of their wines.