Mon 9 Jan 2012
“Feral’ isn’t usually a term we associate with pinot noir; perhaps, rather, with a wild, woolly, wet-dog infused syrah. The d’Arenberg The Feral Fox Pinot Noir 2009, Adelaide Hills, however, does convey some untamed, unfettered quality while remaining thoroughly true to its grape variety. The winery, located in the McLaren Vale of South Australia, was founded in 1912; winemaker now is fourth generation Chester Osborn, a meticulous craftsman and an inventive marketer. In a country where unusual names for wines are common, Osborn has excelled at eccentric and attention-getting labels that include such eye-catchers as The Dead Arm Shiraz, The Monkey Spider Roussanne, The Derelict Vineyard Grenache, The Broken Fishplate Sauvignon Blanc and The Wild Pixie Shiraz Roussanne.
The Feral Fox Pinot Noir 2009 reads like an Old School textbook in winemaking. Fermentation was partial whole-cluster using natural yeasts; after fermentation came traditional foot-treading followed by the gentle action of a 19th Century basket press. Aging occurred over 12 months in French oak, only 5 percent new barrels. The color is medium ruby with a hint of magenta-blue at the center; aromas of black and red cherries and sour cherry are woven with notes of cola, cranberry and strawberry, cloves and licorice and melon ball. This is a savory pinot noir, richly spiced and imbued with delicious cherry and plum flavors and benefiting from a lovely satiny drape to the texture, yet it also displays a sense of delicacy and spareness, of almost lacy transparency, and its oak influence sits as lightly and deftly as a silk scarf on a warm shoulder. 14.5 percent alcohol. Drink through 2013 or ’14. Excellent. About $35.
Imported by Old Bridge Cellars, Napa, Cal.