Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Report from … Meeting Sam Neill and Tasting his Wines – October 21, 2010

Sam Neill, the actor from such movies as Hunt for Red October, The Piano and the Jurassic Park franchise (he was the one who was not Jeff Goldblum or Laura Dern.  Need more help?  He is the taller one with an accent); and who can forget his role in The Tudors (Season 1) as Cardinal Thomas Wolsey … cool. 

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’ll start with the 2009 Picnic Riesling ($19.25) nice mineral, pear, lemonade/limeade flavour with good acidity for balance; light and lively, soft and easy; a very good Riesling to sit and ip. (****)

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.

1 comment:

wino-fred said...

Michael, Have you tried the Two Paddocks Pinot Noir since you tried the 2009? I see that the 2011 vintage is being offered by Malcolm Cocks.