This month’s theme is provided by Jens from the Cincinnati Wine Garage blog who has challenged us to sample Pinot Noir from outside of Burgundy, California or Oregon. So I first thought of a Spanish Pinot Noir I recently had at a tasting that really was different from my paradigm of Pinot from it’s more famous appellations. It was from Bodegas J Belda, their barrel fermented Pinot Noir from 2001. This wine was ruby in color with black cherry and oak aromas not unlike other ripe Pinot Noir, but the spicy dark berry fruit and hard tannins had me thinking more about the Rhone than Burgundy. I scored this an 8.5/10 on my scale. I looked for a bottle of this wine for this event, but couldn’t find one, so I asked for the most obscure Pinot from the hand picked stock of St. Paul’s Solo Vino, my new favorite wine store here in the Twin Cities. And obscure it was, but not from outside of France, it is from the Alsace region. What, you say, from the land of Riesling, Pinot Blanc and GewÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¼rztraminer? What on earth are they thinking? Actually, Pinot Noir has a solid track record of producing interesting wines in the vineyards of Germany, so why not the cool climate, northern province of France?
Domaine Hering, Pinot Noir, Alsace AC 2003 ($19) – Very light ruby color with salmon edges, almost like a rose; has strawberry aromas and raspberry and strawberry fruit flavors that finishes with nice balancing acidity. An interesting and elegant expression of Pinot Noir, very close to the best Spatburgunder from Germany I have had in the past. Score: 8.5/10
My second selection came from my northern neighbors here in America, from the Henry of Pelham Family Estate, their Pinot Noir, “Unfiltered”, from Niagara Peninsula, Canada VQA 2003 ($20 CAN) – Ruby in color with a salmon rim; strong black cherry aromas with raspberry fruit flavors with some light tannins. I found this wine to be quite enjoyable. Score: 8.5/10
My final selection is from the Southern Hemisphere, but not from Australia as I had originally intended. Following the advice of new listener Graeme from the UK, I picked up a Kim Crawford, Pinot Noir from Marlborough, New Zealand 2004 ($12) – Bright ruby color with fresh Pinot fruit aromas of strawberry, raspberry and a bit of earth; raspberry and strawberry flavors, nicely balanced with a touch of vanilla. Conventional Pinot in style, but very nicely done and a great value. Score: 9/10
Best of tasting: Kim Crawford, Pinot Noir 2004
Best Value: Henry of Pelham Family Estate, Pinot Noir 2003
So this roundup reinforced that really good Pinot Noir can be made in many places outside of the regions for with it is famous. All these wines are from cool climates, so I guess that is a common thread that might be useful in choosing wines to try. But I do recommend the Pinot from Spain I mentioned earlier as a wine that is completely different from any Pinot you’ve ever had.
Thanks to Jens for the theme and I’ll see you next month for whatever the host dreams up for WBW 15.
Copyright 2005 Tim Elliott. Licensed to the public under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
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