A Pinot Noir TastingBy
When I was growing up in this industry, we were always taught…..there were only 5 noble grape varieties—Chardonnay & Riesling for white wines….AND Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon & Pinot Noir for red wines. Back then, many of our favorite Pinot based wines were light in color, elusive, more fragile & all about refinement, purity, finesse, nuance & seductive-ness. (Of course there were exceptions, but not like today!) As I have mentioned in past VINO tastings…we look in 2014….to show participants….our version of what is good wine…..examples which can serve as benchmarks, which subsequent wines tasted can be judged by. On this night, we will be featuring THREE examples of what we mean….1 each from California, Germany & Burgundy. We are, by no means saying this is all that Pinot can & should be. It is more about understanding where we came from….so we can ask better questions moving forward. Hopefully, this tasting will be insightful. Just another learning opportunity. To make things even more fun,we will serve them BLIND!
One of Burgundies standout producers of more classically styled wines. “Chaignots—where the oak trees grown”—is 60 year old vines on a 8 to 20% slope, 260 or so meters in elevation.
What classic Burgundycharacter–dark cherries, earth, spice, decaying Autumn leaves, with a tight knit weave from beginning to end, still tight in structure, but impeccably balanced. Don’t even think about opening another bottle for a few years, that’s for sure.
2007 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir “Bien Nacido Vineyard”
Here is a truly superb, pure, transparent older vine Californian Pinot crafted by a Master, using grapes from his home turf. I have heard some people say, Au Bon Climat is producing too much wine nowadays & the quality has suffered. I do not agree, I really think the ABC wines typically showcase elegance, refinement & balance (which includes balanced alcohol & oak). This is just another example of what I mean.
2007 Rudolf Furst Spatburgunder “Centgrafenberg”
A silky, highly refined, wonderfully ethereal Pinot Noir from red sandstone soils & superstar German winemaker Paul Furst. This wine definitely displayed the decaying leaves, musky, earthy characteristics of Burgundy, that’s for sure. If you get the chance, you should look to try the Furst Pinot Noirs……of which he has several bottlings–“Tradition”, “Centgrafenberg”, “Hunsruck”, “Klingenberg”; “Schlossberg”….AND his Fruhburgunder. They are well worth the search.
2001 Robert Chevillon Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Les Roncières :
• “Before the land was cultivated with vines, it was full of brambles or ronces. 52 year old vines, East by southeast sun exposure, 250-300 meters in altitude, with a steep grade of 20%“.
Our friend Brent kindly brought this wine. Eventhough it was from a different Chevillon Premier Cru than the one listed above, in this case Roncieres”, it did showcase the Chevillon style. In fact, on first sniff, I thought this wine was aged Volnay…..BUT with the first sip, I was pretty sure it was a Robert Chevillon Premier Cru & therefore Nuits St Georges. They have a different weave to their matrix….& this 2001 was much more open & outgoing. One could tell it was high quality….as it really dwarfed the preceeding wine, which was a 2001 Grand Cru from another producer. In comparison the Chevillon displayed lots of intricacies, character & sublime pedigree, which may not have noticed on its own, but was certainly evident side by side with the previous wine! I though this was a fabulous drink.
That is not meant to be a criticism of the previous wine. When we first smelled & tasted it, I thought it was really good & quite interesting. It also said Cru quality right out of the gates. No, this was meant to be more of a comment/reminder how fabulous the subliminal, often under rated style of Chevillon can be.