Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Elegance of Pinot Noir

by Rob Bralow, Wine Post Editor

I have discovered a new love of Pinot Noir. I was not one of those who watched Sideways and then rushed out and bought up as much Pinot Noir as my wallet could handle. I still mostly drank Cabernet, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc (nope, never really got into Chardonnay). Never mind that I was almost 22 at the time and still drank wine from unmarked jugs.

Now I find myself really enjoying the delicate flavors and easily drinkable profile of Pinot Noir. This light-skinned grape walks such a fine line between a reckless abandonment of flavor for a tasteless alcoholic drink and a truly inspired beverage that compliments food and atmosphere. In my tastings I found a wide range of Pinot Noir that went from watery, tasteless grape juice to intense and aromatic alcohol. The true gems were the wines between the two extremes that were elegant and vibrant.

Some of these gems I found are listed below. As you'll notice there are only a few places where all of these wines come from: Burgundy, Oregon (Willamette Valley), and select places in California with cooler climates, such as Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley.

2008 Cloudline Willamette Valley Pinot Noir - This is the beginner Pinot Noir drinker's wine. There is plenty of soft redfruits, predominantly raspberry, tinged with smoky and toasty aromas. The taste is light and smooth, with a good dollop of sweet red fruits. My only critique is that the finish is a little weak.

2008 Benton-Lane Willamette Valley First Class Pinot Noir - This is the wineries top Pinot Noir and it definitely holds its own in the mid-upper price ranges for Pinot. This Pinot Noir is on the fruitier and fuller bodied style of Pinot Noir, with rich red fruits and smooth and silky acidity.

2008 De Loach Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir - This is exactly what I want in a Pinot Noir that is around $20. There is plenty to like about this wine, but the fresh vibrant acidity and the earthy qualities really stuck home with me. Great red fruits like strawberry and raspberry combines incredibly with light toffee notes.

2008 De Loach Russian River Valley Pinot Noir - The bigger brother of the Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, this Pinot has twice the berries. It is like a fruit explosion on the nose and in the taste, held back by some great acidity. I found out later that this wine had some Syrah added to it to make it slightly more intense and I had a debate with myself on if I thought this was a good or bad thing. My conclusion is that since I enjoyed the wine, a little Syrah did not hurt.

2007 Joseph Drouhin Chorey-Les-Beaune - One of the classic names in wine production in Burgundy, Maison Joseph Drouhin has been producing wine since the end of the 1800's. These are wines of delicate flavor and elegance. The Chorey-Les-Beaune is extremely soft and light, with a sense of earth and richness.

2006 Joseph Drouhin Gevrey-Chambertin - Moving to the Gevrey-Chambertin, this wine has balance of fruit and earth, while keeping its identity as an old world wine. The complexity of flavors and sensations are not worth writing down, but worth experiencing for yourself. This is not an inexpensive wine, but neither will it break the bank if you are looking for a wine for a special occasion. 

2007 Domain Drouhin Willamette Valley Pinot Noir - The Oregon property of Maison Joseph Drouhin, while independent, still keeps its Burgundian identity. This wine reflects both the difference in place and of the American palate. It is a heavier, juicier wine, but with all of the elegance of a French Pinot Noir. I would want this unique wine to age a few years before enjoying, so that the fruit flavors can blend more with the earthy ones.

2008 Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir - There is definitely a simple beauty in this wine. There is balance and poise, with enough fruit throughout a lengthy taste and a great freshness. 

2006 Flowers Sonoma Coast Andreen-Gale Pinot Noir - Here is another awesome wine. Combining several vineyards in the Sonoma Coast, this wine has a pure sense of California freshness that puts other heavier and flabbier Pinot Noirs to shame.

Disclosures: These wines were tasted over several trade tasting events as well as from press samples. In addition, I currently sell the lower line of Benton-Lane Pinot Noir at Blue Streak Wines & Spirits.
Copyright 2009 Wine Post: Wine & Spirits Blog. Powered by Blogger Blogger Templates create by Deluxe Templates. WP by Masterplan