Wine labels can tell you a lot about what’s in the bottle – and by that, I don’t mean alcohol percentages or the grape variety. The visual style of the label often drops a few clues about the target market, the aspirations of the wine maker and even the price point. Budget new world wines often favour bright, bold packaging to signpost bright, bold wines – while pricey classed growth claret or Burgundy tend to feature suitably aristocratic design motifs.
Take a look at the label on the right – to me, this says “modern”, “accessible”, “youthful” and probably somewhere in the mid-budget range. The Tilia Estate Vipavska Dolina 2008 is a Pinot Noir from Slovenia. Not having prior expectations of what that might involve stylistically, I made these initial assumptions before even pulling the cork. However, the liquid inside the bottle confounded almost all of them.
The attractive pale ruby colour, and a slightly stinky nose (in the best possible Pinot manner) transported me straight to Burgundy. Aromas of sweet, ripe red fruits and sandalwood recall the best examples of Savigny-les-Beaune. The palate is surprisingly dry – certainly not overripe or jammy, indeed it just radiates class. There’s plenty of structure to the Vipavska Dolina, but those tannins are fine-grained and silky smooth. In fact, this is one of the most refined and “classic” expressions of Pinot that I’ve had the pleasure of sampling, outside Burgundy itself. But, to merely compare the Tilia Estate Pinot with its Burgundian cousins would be to miss the point – the ripeness of the fruit, and an appealing vanilla note are important points of difference that add real character.
There’s no need to wait to enjoy this wine, but I bet it will continue to evolve over the next 12-24 months. If you want to test that theory and lay some down, Naked Wines seems to have an exclusive on it at the moment. I surely don’t need to sing their praises again, but I will say that I have had very few (if any) duds from their range over the last six months.