Way back before Cono Sur’s Pinot Noir was my favourite wine of all time and space – which was before I really began exploring beyond the supermarket, although I still love it – my favourite wine in the whole wide world was actually (shock horror!) a white wine.
A Chardonnay, indeed; Cycles Gladiator Chardonnay from California.
They sold it in the awesome Sainsbury’s Market in Pimlico, London, rather near where I then lived. It was about eight quid, which was waaaaaaay more than I usually paid for wine in those days; but I frequently found it on offer, with a pound or two knocked off, bringing it down to the realms of realism for my tight, low-income London budget. And I’d buy a bottle on a Friday night and crack it open when I got home, after a quick chilling in the freezer, and share a bottle with my good friends Ralf and Paul – usually in exchange for some food much better than I could or would ever be bothered to cook.
Ah, those Pimlico Friday night roasts…
Before I get too misty-eyed it’s worth bringing it back to the present, and this bottle of Cycles Gladiator Pinot Noir: a good wine at a very competitive price. I know California is feted as one of the world powerhouses in Pinot Noir production, and I used to indulge often – but since I went Kiwi I’ve rarely ever wanted to go back.
Those New Zealand Pinot Noirs come in at under a tenner even more rarely than their Californian cousins – pretty much never, in fact – but I’ve never, ever, ever had a bad one. I’ve rarely had one that wasn’t superb.
This wine was a gorgeous cherry-skin tone with blush sunset hues around the edges; and it excited my senses like a good Pinot should, with compost and spiced fruit wafting up from the bowl of the glass, and a mouthful of cherry and strawberry with a refreshingly thin texture quite unlike the full-bodied reds I was raised on. (My parents didn’t actually raise me on wine, by the way – I was speaking in terms of relatively recent years.)
I’m not sure quite what stops me from showering it with praise. A quick self-Googling reveals I once “loved” it. Now I’d say I definitely like it; I respect it; I admire it. But I don’t love it. I wouldn’t want to spend the rest of my life with it. And that’s how a really great Pinot Noir should make you feel. So I’m going to have to say this is just a good one. A good one at under a tenner, too; but by no means the cheapest Pinot Noir on the market nowadays.
You can pick this up from the Co-op for £8.99 – decent, perhaps even a “bargain“.
But, ah! It’s their Chardonnay I really want…