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January Wine Focus: Back to basics with Pinot Noir

by Robin Garr » Wed Jan 02, 2019 2:16 pm

For Wine Focus this year, we've decided to go back to basics, returning to the concept that made this monthly program good at the outset: Each month we will explore basic, reasonably available wine types based on grape or appellation. Most of the time we will alternate between a grape one month, an appellation the next.

So, for January 2019, we'll open our doors to the variety that many consider the King of wine grapes:

Pinot Noir!

Bring your Pinot Noirs from all over and let's talk about how they compare and how they vary. Gentlefolks, pull your corks!
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Re: January Wine Focus: Back to basics with Pinot Noir

by kasey.dubler » Wed Jan 02, 2019 4:35 pm

I guess I'll get it started, had a Pinot over the weekend and was just entering a note today, so thought I'd share

2013 Sea Smoke Pinot Noir Ten
Not a ton of tasting experience with Sea Smoke. This wine was huge for a Pinot. Red fruit flavors, but super dark cherry and some notes of plum. Oak stands out on this, more than I like, vanilla and spices. A very tasty wine, but to me the oak overpowered it. Although it was very tasty, it wasn't super interesting to me, just a fruit shake with oak...

I should also say that I drink mainly old world, so sometimes the bigger New World wines are a bit much for me, People that prefer the bigger California style will probably love this wine.
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Re: January Wine Focus: Back to basics with Pinot Noir

by David M. Bueker » Wed Jan 02, 2019 5:09 pm

Sea Smoke is pretty much the poster child for oaky California Pinot. I never understood the appeal.
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Re: January Wine Focus: Back to basics with Pinot Noir

by Jenise » Wed Jan 02, 2019 9:33 pm

I've found them quite enjoyable ten+ years out (I don't buy, but friends do). The oak integrates.
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Re: January Wine Focus: Back to basics with Pinot Noir

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Jan 02, 2019 10:54 pm

I will start off with a Jadot once my virus is gone. :(
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Re: January Wine Focus: Back to basics with Pinot Noir

by Paul Winalski » Thu Jan 03, 2019 1:28 pm

Red Burgundy, of course.

Nearly all of California is too hot and sunny for pinot noir, in my opinion, and the results tend to have all the pinot finesse and character baked out of them, or are vinified as over-oaked fruit bombs. The best examples I've encountered have been from Carneros and southern Sonoma Valley. I was fond of Carneros Creek, but since the phylloxera outbreak awhile back I haven't seen it here in New England. Saintsbury's Carneros bottling has plenty of pinot character and repays aging. I had been drinking it up age 5-10, but I found a couple of 15-year-old bottles that had been misplaced in my cellar, and to my great surprise they were dead ringers for a good Nuits-St.-Georges. I also like Schug's pinot noir.

-Paul W.
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Re: January Wine Focus: Back to basics with Pinot Noir

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:52 pm

Would be of interest to read/hear about PNs from California. I know that the other site here in the US has lots of interest in what is hot!
Seems to be too much variability in Ore?
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Re: January Wine Focus: Back to basics with Pinot Noir

by Jenise » Thu Jan 03, 2019 3:31 pm

Bob, I'm a fan of both Cali and Ore pinots, and get to experience quite a few. I wouldn't say there's more variability in square Oregon at all. In fact, in some ways, less, because though there are many AVA's there are essentially two growing regions, one cooler and larger and one warmer and smaller. Compare that to long, elbow shaped California with the tomato and thyme notes of Santa Barbara to the south and the high acid berry fruit of Mendocino hundreds of miles to the north. In between, hundreds of miles of pinot noir opportunities include the granite minerality and big tannins of Santa Cruz, the rich spice of the Russian River, and the saline notes in vineyards along the Sonoma Coast--plus a dozen other regions. It's not only not one region geologically, it's not one region meteorologically--consider years like '93 which was poor in Napa/Sonoma but superb in Santa Barbara/Santa Ynez. Much easier to generalize about Oregon than California, IMNSHO.
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Re: January Wine Focus: Back to basics with Pinot Noir

by JC (NC) » Thu Jan 03, 2019 10:52 pm

I may be opening a white wine tomorrow but if I do, my next two wines will be Pinot Noirs, one from USA and one from Burgundy.
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Re: January Wine Focus: Back to basics with Pinot Noir

by Tim York » Fri Jan 04, 2019 10:25 am

Normandy also has a producer of Pinot Noir! :shock: I could have put this in the Outsider thread and I think I have posted about it before but here goes again.

2014 Les Arpents du Soleil Pinot Noir Rouge - France, Normandy (4/9/2018)
This is my best bottle so far out of 5 (just 1 left) and it is indeed opening up on the nose and acquiring extra complexity and depth with a more velvety texture and obvious Pinosity. Rivalling a good entry level wine from a lighter Côte d'Or village and may still develop further. I must go down the road to get more or, failing that, some 2015 or 2016. Good+.

2015 Les Arpents du Soleil Pinot Noir Rouge - France, Normandy (12/30/2018)
From memory this is fuller, more structured and even more Burgundian than the good 2014. Good+.
Posted from CellarTracker

With global warming I think there is a big future for Pinot Noir in European regions more northerly than Burgundy. I have already tasted Pinot Noir from Belgium (IIRC lighter than these Normans and more expensive but elegant) and I believe there is some in the UK going into bubbly blends and maybe also being sold as mono-varietal reds (Peter and Steve do you know the answer to this?). And Pinot Noir in Alsace, Champagne, Loire upstream and Germany is putting on weight.
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Re: January Wine Focus: Back to basics with Pinot Noir

by Robin Garr » Fri Jan 04, 2019 10:32 am

Tim York wrote:With global warming I think there is a big future for Pinot Noir in European regions more northerly than Burgundy. I have already tasted Pinot Noir from Belgium (IIRC lighter than these Normans and more expensive but elegant) and I believe there is some in the UK going into bubbly blends and maybe also being sold as mono-varietal reds (Peter and Steve do you know the answer to this?). And Pinot Noir in Alsace, Champagne, Loire upstream and Germany is putting on weight.

Fascinating report, Tim! And yes, I believe we're seeing the same on this side of the water with Ontario, where I recall some decent Pinot coming out of the Niagara Peninsula ... and, of course, Finger Lakes in New York as well. Howie, if you're looking on, do you see a growing future for Pinot in the region?
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Re: January Wine Focus: Back to basics with Pinot Noir

by David M. Bueker » Fri Jan 04, 2019 10:42 am

Paul Winalski wrote:Nearly all of California is too hot and sunny for pinot noir, in my opinion, and the results tend to have all the pinot finesse and character baked out of them, or are vinified as over-oaked fruit bombs. The best examples I've encountered have been from Carneros and southern Sonoma Valley. I was fond of Carneros Creek, but since the phylloxera outbreak awhile back I haven't seen it here in New England. Saintsbury's Carneros bottling has plenty of pinot character and repays aging. I had been drinking it up age 5-10, but I found a couple of 15-year-old bottles that had been misplaced in my cellar, and to my great surprise they were dead ringers for a good Nuits-St.-Georges. I also like Schug's pinot noir.

-Paul W.


As Jenise mentions, there are more recently planted regions in California that address your climatic concerns, and the over-oaked fruit bomb group is shrinking, overcome by a newer style that does not lean on uber-ripeness or oak, but rather the natural finesse of Pinot Noir. Once I kick my own personal virus/flu/creeping crud I will be opening several of the "cooler" California Pinots. Of course I post on the wines all the time, from producers such as Wind Gap, Enfield, Rhys, Ceritas, Littorai, etc.
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Re: January Wine Focus: Back to basics with Pinot Noir

by Jenise » Fri Jan 04, 2019 5:37 pm

We were in a pinot mood last night.

Started with this one from the fascinating Columbia Gorge appellation shared by Washington and Oregon. 2015 Savage Grace Wines Pinot Noir Underwood Mountain Vineyard Tasty but monochromatic cherry-berry fruit, fruit-forward with structure in the unique style of all Michael Grace wines.

Very very enjoyable, but alas one bottle wasn't quite enough, so we also opened a 2014 Head High Wines Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast. Blind, would know this was Californian in spite of the darker fruit than usual for Sonoma wines. Made from killer raw material from Sangiacomo, Durell and Wildcat Canyon vineyards, it's vinified on 100% French oak of which only 25% is new, which as David points out is pretty much the new normal. It's friendly/open and generously spiced. An exceptional everyday pinot at the $14 Last Bottle price, and it originally sold for $30.
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Re: January Wine Focus: Back to basics with Pinot Noir

by Paul Winalski » Fri Jan 04, 2019 8:44 pm

Tim York wrote:With global warming I think there is a big future for Pinot Noir in European regions more northerly than Burgundy.


Indeed! There is a layer of chalk/limestone/marlstone from an ancient seabed that extends north/south across southern Europe. The northern part is in Southern England--the Salisbury plain where Stonehenge is, and the white cliffs of Dover. It then extends across France and ends on the Mediterranean coast in southern Spain. Most of it buried under other layers of rock, but wherever in France/Spain erosion has put it in the subsoil, the ground produces spectacular wines. Moving from north to south we have:

o Champagne (champs-agne; white soil)
o the Cote d'Or in Burgundy
o Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne in Cognac
o the Albarizas (white soils) in Jerez de la Frontera in Spain

I would expect the northern end in England similarly to produce excellent wines once it is hot enough there to ripen grapes properly. The Romans had vineyards planted in Southern England.

-Paul W.
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Re: January Wine Focus: Back to basics with Pinot Noir

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Fri Jan 04, 2019 11:59 pm

Hopefully, someone will post on a PN from Finger lakes.
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Re: January Wine Focus: Back to basics with Pinot Noir

by David M. Bueker » Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:51 am

Finally getting back to wine after a week of the creeping crud...

2016 Failla Platt Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast)
Bitter cherry and cranberry with a distinct herbal/menthol streak were the primary elements of this wine. I could not get past the bitterness, which I found overpowering. Dumped it. Expensive miss.

I’ve had Platt Vineyard Pinot Noir from several producers, and it just does not work for me. Time to stop experimenting.
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Re: January Wine Focus: Back to basics with Pinot Noir

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Jan 08, 2019 8:37 pm

Feeling better after a nasty virus so need to play catch-up.

TN: 2015 Louis Jadot Pinot Noir Bourgogne.

Good natural cork, $25 Cdn, 13% alc. Good rep here in area, Jadot tasting in 2 weeks.

Clear pale ruby color. Nose of raspberry, cherry, earth, hint of oak .
Medium body, softish tannins, quite dry, good acidity. Not too complex and a nice balance. "Think some cranberry here" from across the table. Nice focus this month eh.
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Re: January Wine Focus: Back to basics with Pinot Noir

by Jim Cassidy » Thu Jan 10, 2019 7:48 pm

Tim said:

With global warming I think there is a big future for Pinot Noir in European regions more northerly than Burgundy.


Tim, don't bet your life savings on it. A serious cooling of Western Europe (for an as yet undetermined length of time) is likely, as additional icemelt in the Northern Hemisphere screws with ocean currents. Oceanographers think the Gulf Stream will no longer bathe the Atlantic coasts of the European mainland and British Isles, radically cooling the climate in the moderate term.
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Re: January Wine Focus: Back to basics with Pinot Noir

by Tim York » Fri Jan 11, 2019 7:19 am

Jim Cassidy wrote:Tim said:

With global warming I think there is a big future for Pinot Noir in European regions more northerly than Burgundy.


Tim, don't bet your life savings on it. A serious cooling of Western Europe (for an as yet undetermined length of time) is likely, as additional icemelt in the Northern Hemisphere screws with ocean currents. Oceanographers think the Gulf Stream will no longer bathe the Atlantic coasts of the European mainland and British Isles, radically cooling the climate in the moderate term.


Jim, that theory has been washing around for many years. I don't have the expertise to make an informed comment. I'm not sure which is worse; making southern Europe into a desert or turning northern Europe into a huge glacier. Meanwhile in the temperate zone in which I live, the warming has been arguably beneficial up to now, e.g. the making of decent Pinot Noir in Normandy.
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Re: January Wine Focus: Back to basics with Pinot Noir

by kasey.dubler » Fri Jan 11, 2019 3:13 pm

I'm just excited to see another person from Utah! Some times I feel so alone...
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Re: January Wine Focus: Back to basics with Pinot Noir

by Jim Cassidy » Fri Jan 11, 2019 8:38 pm

Kasey said:

I'm just excited to see another person from Utah!


Once and future. I'm living in Portland, visit SLC a couple times a year, and plan to move back to the prettiest vineyard in a few years.
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Re: January Wine Focus: Back to basics with Pinot Noir

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sat Jan 12, 2019 6:23 pm

TN: 2015 The Fledge and Co Katvis Pinot Noir, Cape SA

Was amazed to find this in Edmonton, small operation. A blend of 3 clones of PN from 3 different regions...Grabouw, Elgin, Karoo.
Good natural cork, 14% alc (?), $27 Cdn. Decanted and served slightly chilled, no sediment notes as not filtered.
Very pale ruby color. Nose tad closed at first but perfumed as it opened. Tad earthy, strawberry, not oaky.
Really opened out after an hour, settled nicely day 2. Juicy, medium bodied, good acidity, cherry, berryish, soft tannins, high alcohol does not deter. "Elegant" from across the table, interesting when thinking of that 2105 Bourgogne from Jadot. Now if I could find a PN from west coast to compare further?
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Re: January Wine Focus: Back to basics with Pinot Noir

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Jan 14, 2019 12:48 pm

TN: 2016 Stoller Dundee Hills Pinot Noir, Ore.

Tasted recently with various Riedel glasses for comparison. Medium ruby in color, "cola/bacon nose" from some attending. Dark red fruits..plum, blackberry and cherry hints on the nose for me.
Nice length, good finish, raspberry...and some earthy tones. $44 Cdn on the shelf.

2015 Domaine Pavelot Savigny les Beaune, Cote de Beaune.

Same tasting, $45 Cdn. Thought it needed more time to open up? Violets, strawberry on the nose for many.
Quite fruit driven, spice, cherry, impressive with ripe tannins. WOTN.
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Re: January Wine Focus: Back to basics with Pinot Noir

by Jenise » Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:13 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:TN: 2016 Stoller Dundee Hills Pinot Noir, Ore.

Tasted recently with various Riedel glasses for comparison. Medium ruby in color, "cola/bacon nose" from some attending. Dark red fruits..plum, blackberry and cherry hints on the nose for me.
Nice length, good finish, raspberry...and some earthy tones. $44 Cdn on the shelf.


Stoller pinots have really caught my attention. I tasted my first one, a '12 I believe, at a demo evening for Riedel glassware. It was the kind of event where I felt compelled to buy wine, and it was the only one of the wines present I thought was even close to 'decent'--but honestly, not a lot decent, just barely so for me at the time. I bought six for $25 ea, put them in the cellar, and forgot about them. The next one I opened two years later shocked me in the way it had put on weight and acquired all manner of good earthy notes. It was spectacular. Every bottle since has been better than the last, and I have no doubt the remaining bottles will be 10-15 year wines. I even picked up a Reserve at auction just to taste the difference, but I suspect I won't like it as well as the regular. Reserve probably means too much oak.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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