Anyway, Sam Neill was in town shooting a movie called “The Vow” (a romantic drama set for release next summer starring Rachael McAdams and Jessica Lange) … after only an hour and a half’s worth of sleep Sam kindly joined a small gaggle of wine media to discuss and pour his wines … then it was off to L.A. and the on to Australia. “I’ll sleep around Christmas,” he answered with a smile to my, “I hope you get to take a nap along the way” comment.
Wait a second … did I just say Sam Neill has a winery? Yup, and has since 1997. It’s located in the Central Otage region of New Zealand – the place he calls home – and I have to say he makes some pretty excellent wines for a “celebrity” winery. But Sam’s not your typical ‘celebrity’ winery.
First the name of the winery is Two Paddocks – so it does not immediately and/or blatantly cash in on Sam’s fame for sales. Sure he appears in promotional material, but unless you dug a little deeper you would not be aware of his involvement; you’d just assume some sort of celebrity endorsement. And second, the wines are not carried by the LCBO – though the quality is there, it has been refused on a few occasions, for reasons only the LCBO can give. I do hope the Board reconsiders especially with a couple of the fabulous ’09 Pinots I tasted today.
We sampled an ’08 and an ’07 Pinot Noir, but the gloves came off for the ‘09s. These were wonderful wines. The 2009 Picnic Pinot Noir ($24.95) was full of red fruit: raspberry, sour cherry (which turned fresh and red with time in glass) and cranberry, nice balancing acidity with a long fresh fruity finish – this would be a perfect one for the Board to jump all over (****½ +). It takes a plus sign in its ranking because it beat out the Two Paddock 2009 Pinot Noir ($36.75) in the flavour category, “by that much”, as agent 99 would say … same character as the Picnic, but with a little more firmness in the mouth (****½).
Thanks to Malcolm Cocks of Glen Ward Wines for bringing Sam in for the occasion of tasting his wines – and thanks to Sam Neill for foregoing rest and relaxation to taste and talk about his booze – for a guy on less than 2 hours sleep he was accommodating and very engaging; and heck, I guess there are worse things to lose sleep over.