Catherine Marshall pinot noir 2017

Catherine Marshall Pinot Noir

Two pinot noirs. Both alike in dignity,
(In fair Elgin, where we lay our scene),
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where truffle oil makes food unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of pinot lovers take their life,
Whose misadventur’d piteous overthrows
Doth with their death bury their chef’s strife.

Cool climate pinot noir

Apologies to Shakespeare while I spin this yarn on two delicious cool climate pinot noirs from Elgin. And apologies to Catherine Marshall for later rant about truffle oil.

One pinot noir is from Elgin’s clay soils and another from sandstone. It’s really interesting to see the differences of terroir in these wines.

Both with those cherry and berry fruit flavours. The Sandstone soil version is lighter than the clay soil, which has a soft richness.

Catherine Marshall pinot food matches

Catherine Marshall pinot noir

Wine: Catherine Marshall Sandstone Soils Pinot Noir
Wine: Catherine Marshall on Clay Soils Pinot Noir
Year: 2017
Region: Elgin
Grapes: Pinot noir
Minimal intervention. Grown in Elgin; made in Stellenbosch
ABV: 13.5%
Price: sandstone: R195 Clay: R225. Available online.

In fact, I think the clay soil pinot is my favourite South African one I’ve tasted so far and I’ll definitely add a case to my shopping list.

It has complexity and savoury/earthy tones that make it stand out. And on the basis of this I’ll be lobbying my overlord to try the R770 Finite Elements Pinot Noir (for Australian readers divide Rands by 10).

The tasting notes and labels on both bottles make serving suggestions. I can’t complain about boeuf bourguignon, coq au vin or any of the dishes.

Apart from one: Truffle Oil. Now I know when you see the word truffle you think delicious, earthy sexy aromas. Back in Melbourne I indulged in orgies of Australian truffles and arranged a series of truffle themed pop-up dinners over the years. Truffles are brilliant.

But Truffle Oil has nothing to do with truffles. It is made from an industrial process, one of the many chemical components found in real truffles 2,4-dithiapentane. It lacks the subtlety or sexiness of real truffles. Sure, truffle oil wizards sometimes put truffle shavings in the bottle. But let me say this again: it is industrial wickedness.

The last thing I want is something from a taudry industrial process matched with my handmade and crafted wines.

Nevertheless, I’ll be back to Catherine’s wines as I like them a lot. And I particularly want to get my nose into her Chenin Blanc fermented in clay. Be prepared for a series of wines fermented in clay, amphora and qvevri. The least industrial process you can imagine.


New to South Africa, I’m exploring the diversity of wine in the country at one bottle a week. English by birth, I’ve spent the last 20 years in Australia writing about food and drink for daily newspapers, glossy magazines and my blog, founded in 2005.

I now live in Johannesburg and am educating myself on all the amazing, new, interesting and avant-garde wines available in this country.

Note: I endeavour to pay for all wines myself and I practice ethical blogging.



Also published on Medium.

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