Cycles Gladiator 2010 California Pinot Noir

Way back before Cono Sur's Pinot Noir was my favourite wine of all time
Posted 01st August 2012        

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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…

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Meet the Author:
Alexander Velky
Alexander grew up on Anglesey, almost as far away from civilization as he’d have liked. He studied English at university and subsequently moved to Prague to teach it to Czech people for just long enough that he could say he’d done that. He then returned to the UK to do an MA in Professional Writing, and later moved to London by accident and worked in the music industry for a while. His interest in wine has been developing throughout. He took the WSET Intermediate exam, for which he was rewarded with a certificate and a pin badge, but he probably won't bother doing any more. He now lives in Pembrokeshire with his wife and daughter. He writes, and drinks, for a living. You can follow him on Twitter if that's how you choose to spend your time. Photograph by Léonie Keeble