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15 October 2011

Pinot Noir: Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand

Monthélie vineyards
This dual-hemisphere array of tasty Pinot was sampled and selected from a triad of recent tastings in London (Marks & Spencer, Wines of Chile, Armit), all going to show that Burgundy, home of Pinot if you like, really does have its work cut out nowadays. Although the Nuits St. Georges, Volnay or Corton-Bressandes scrutinized below were particularly good, French Pinot does sometimes lack a bit of obvious charm; whether because a certain wine just needs more time to open up or simply just isn't as good as it should be, given its high price and reputation of the producer, area or vineyard it comes from.
That's not to say that the "New World" Pinots chosen here are more charming in the sense of more upfront, obvious or straightforward. Some of them are certainly pretty typical of the undoubted quality emerging from particular regions and winemakers, and most of them seem to effortlessly exude that seductive intricate PN 'sweet/savoury' style, as I call it, cunningly abbreviated to "s/s" in my tasting notes.
Cooler climate wine regions such as Australia's Geelong (southwest of Melbourne) or New Zealand's Central Otago (centre-south of South Island); and the coastal areas of Limarí (a good trek north of Santiago), Casablanca or San Antonio (west of the capital) really are looking very exciting for Pinot in Chile (I'll try to avoid lapsing into those "difficult / fussy grape variety" clichés, oops too late...) By the way, that intriguing name of one of the Austin's wines has a distinctly Aus sense-of-humour tale attached to it; I copied this snippet off their London distributor's website, Armit Wines: "In a desire to produce an affordable, fruit-driven, immediate-drinking Pinot Noir, the Sixfootsix label was born in 2003. The quirky name derives from a Geelong folk-hero with a questionable criminal background, William Buckley, who was a giant of a man at six foot six inches tall..." So, there you have it; good Pinot is indeed a tall wine, rather than big, with fascinatingly sinister origins!
And another thing (updated a couple of days later)... A glass of 2010 "Pinot Noir" from the Languedoc ordered in a pub-restaurant yesterday (The Ivy House, Chalfont St. Giles: pretty good food actually with a touch of style) got me wondering about that Pinot scandal (goes to the story on Decanter) involving the Sieur d'Arques winery, other co-ops and merchant-vintners and Gallo (for one of their Red Bicyclette US range). Well, this one, made by the Foncalieu co-op winery group, was surprisingly deep-purple coloured with distinctive Merlot-esque aromas and quite chunky tannins. Allegedly vin de pays Pinot Noir, which it "obviously" was compared to all the others with real varietal character sampled here. Hmm... On the other hand, I've now (25/10) added a Languedoc Pinot at the bottom by Domaine de Clovallon that really does taste of Pinot and is quite stylish too, even if a touch pricey. You'll find more from this estate and more good PN from the region - especially Limoux - by clicking on the page link in the right hand column.


SixFootSix Pinot Noir 2008 Austin's Wines - Geelong, Victoria (14% alc.)
Maturing "sweet/savoury" nose, juicy vs dried cherry fruit with gamey edges, still lively vs drinking nicely too, quite long delicate finish. £12 Armit.
Austin's Pinot Noir 2009 - Geelong, Victoria (13% alc.)
Fairly gamey with quite rich dried Morello/Kirsch notes, again builds up to tasty and refreshing finish even vs lingering maturing side. Very good. £16.50 Armit.
More Oz Pinot here (then scroll down a bit).

New Zealand

Leah Pinot Noir 2008 Seresin - Marlborough (biodynamic)
Complex gamey vs towards herbal cassis notes, fair weight (14%) with hints of vanilla coco oak, although it does add texture; tasty "sweet/savoury" profile on the finish. £42 magnum, Armit.
Paper Road Pinot Noir rosé 2010 Borthwick Estate - Wairarapa (13%)
Lively and intense, very "s/s" PN style for a rosé with plenty of flavour, lush vs crisp combo, perhaps a tad tart in the end but quite a mouthful overall! £12 Armit.
Paper Road Pinot Noir 2009 Borthwick Estate - Wairarapa (14%)
Enticing Pinot nose, savoury vs sweet cherry, quite intense and stylish, again fresh vs weighty combo with fine length. £13 Armit.
Lobster Reef Pinot Noir 2009 - Marlborough (13.5%)
Very attractive easy-going style with bags of Pinot character, soft and silky with a touch of freshness still and sweet vs gamey fruit. Not hugely complex but who cares, especially at £7 on offer at Asda (usually £11).
Clocktower Pinot Noir 2009 Wither Hills - Wairau Valley, Marlborough (13.5%)
Appealing "s/s" aromas, ripe and silky then gamier on the palate, difficult not to like its style with a touch of dry texture and weight vs fresh acidity, maturing vs sweet fruit finish. £12 M&S (125 stores).
Earth's End Pinot Noir 2009 Mount Edward Wines - Central Otago (13.5%)
Again very seductive perfumed "s/s" profile, more intense and more oomph than above with lively acidity underneath, concentrated and tasty with structured mouth-feel still; attractive developing edges vs perfumed fruit, perhaps trying a bit too hard but it's impressive anyway. £16 M&S (120 stores).


Aconcagua Costa Pinot Noir 2010 Vina Arboleda - Aconcagua (14%)
A little closed up at first, subtle vs intense "sweet/savoury" Pinot character, quite commanding palate with concentrated tasty style and classy length / bite. £15+ New Generation Wines.
Reserva Pinot Noir 2010 Valdivieso - Casablanca (14%)
Nice perfumed "s/s" and cherry notes, fruity vs savoury with lively punchy mouth-feel, a touch of oak and attractive bite. £10-£15 Bibendum Wine.
Reserva Pinot Noir 2010 Vina Tabalí - Limarí (13.5%)
Lovely perfumed cherry tones, juicy and tasty with "s/s" edges, attractive sweet fruit and refreshing bite. £8-£10 Boutinot.
Reserva Especial Pinot Noir 2010 Vina Tabalí - Limarí (13.5%)
Smokier and edgier style, has a bit more grip and weight then fairly intense finish. £10-£15 Boutinot.
Talinay Pinot Noir 2009 Vina Tabalí - Limarí (14%)
Touches of oak, quite big mouthful with enticing perfumed "s/s" notes, a little tannin and fresh bite too, fair class overall. £15+ Boutinot.
Lo Abarca Hills Vineyard Pinot Noir 2007 Casa Marin - San Antonio Valley (14.5%)
Delicate aromatic "s/s" nose, tangy vs sweet fruit palate with maturing tones, quite weighty but balanced alcohol, attractive and classy savoury vs perfumed finish. £15+ Mentzendorff & Co.
Corralillo Pinot Noir 2010 Matetic Vineyards - San Antonio Valley (14.5%)
Rich cherry fruit with wilder edges, perfumed and intense; light grip and lively acidity vs a bit of oomph and concentrated. £14 Armit.
EQ Pinot Noir 2009 Matetic Vineyards - San Antonio Valley (14.5%)
Touch wilder and gamier still, more intense "s/s" profile too with sweet floral fruit, a little more oak textured but well-integrated, powerful and tasty finish. £18 Armit.
Tierra y Hombre Pinot Noir 2010 Viña Indomita (13.5%) - Casablanca Valley
Herby black cherry and cassis notes, perfumed and fruity, fairly intense with almost tart vs sweet fruit combo, not bad length too; very "modern" style but the PN still comes through nicely. £8 M&S (300 stores).
More sexy Pinot from Chile here: Viña Leyda.

France - Burgundy

Monthélie rouge 1er Cru Sur la Velle 2009 Leflaive (13.5%) - Côte de Beaune
A touch closed up, quite savoury and concentrated on the palate, a little clunky acidity/alcohol wise but it's fairly long and lingering. £35 Armit.
Nuits St. Georges 2008 Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux (13%) - Côte de Nuits
Perfumed vs savoury nose, more austere style vs maturing edges, nice dry vs sweet mouth-feel, tight and fresh still vs gamey elegant and long. Pretty classic. £29 Armit.
Mercurey 2009 Domaine de la Grangerie (13%) - Côte Chalonnaise
Very perfumed floral cherry and cassis aromas, quite intense and tangy vs "sweet/savoury" fruit, lively bite and elegant length vs attractive maturing profile. £13 M&S (from November in 175 stores).
Volnay 2009 Domaine Roux (13%) - Côte de Beaune
Savoury forward and ripe on the nose, tasty "s/s" combo with a touch of tannin lending texture vs fresh acidity; concentrated vs elegant, lovely tasty finish, still structured vs developing edges. Stylish. £20 M&S (from November in 150 stores).
Corton-Bressandes Grand Cru 2009 Domaine Antonin Guyon (13.5%) - Côte de Beaune
Enticing delicate nose, fragrant strawberry and cherry, maturing raisin-y notes; concentrated with subtle oak grain, dry vs fresh mouth-feel with long "s/s" flavours, floral vs gamey too, lovely finish and still very alive. Class, should be too: £50 M&S (50 stores).

France - Languedoc

2008 Les Pomarèdes Pinot Noir vin de pays d’Oc Domaine de Clovallon - further to my comments above on a case of Pinot fraud, this one’s definitely Pinot from this slightly off-the-wall estate in Bédarieux on the fringes of the Massif Central mountains. Succulent silky “sweet/savoury” style and attractive Pinot character, shows a touch of dry grip vs fresh acidity on the finish. Very good for Languedoc PN although dear at £15.75 (Terroir Languedoc).

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