30 May 2006

Oak-ay: Wither Hills

Pinot Noir 2004
[£14.99, Majestic]

IN ITS heart this is a delicate creature, apparently made from entirely foot-trodden grapes, a rare thing these days but ideal, the foot being strong enough to break grape skins but still gentle enough not to crush the bitter pips.

However it is swamped with oak.

Expensive-tasting, cedary French oak, albeit, but nonetheless oak, and just too much of it for my palate. To be more precise, and to stray quite some distance from flattery, it evokes damp wood chippings from, for example, playground floors. This seems to be the way with so many premium Pinots from New Zealand and it's beginning to wear me down! Wither Hills states its '...true secret lies in its ... commitment to producing true Marlborough regional styles with their own distinct characters...' To me this overt oak excess swamps a potential character, unless the oak-appeal is what these guys en-masse are driving at in this definition.