Week 24 – Pinot Noir

We tasted: Domaine Roblot Marchand Vosne Romanee 2014 £40

Tasting Notes

Emma says: “I have been looking forward to this week, as to me Pinot is the finest of red grapes and at its best in Burgundy, France; much like Chardonnay. For many winemakers, making a great Pinot Noir is the ultimate challenge of their life. It is a grape that is very sensitive to climate and soil, as well as winemaking technique.

The taste of a Pinot can be incredibly different depending on where in the world it comes from. If you take a new world Pinot from an area like California it has a sweet berry fruit character with exotic spice notes. Then the styles coming from cooler regions around the world like Central Otago, Oregon or Tasmania are brighter with more crunchy fruit. Finally you have the classic region of Burgundy which is unrivalled for having a diversity of styles and flavour profiles coming from tiny patches of land within the region. Yet another challenge, is balancing the use of oak to the delicate berry fruit flavours and often light body. Only the best Pinot can take a good dose of oak without being swamped by its flavour.

Many wine geeks like myself have fallen for Pinot just like the winemakers, I think for similar reasons. We are all on the quest to find that perfect bottle. And particularly in Burgundy this can be an expensive gamble, you have to pay a fair price for a bottle of Pinot in this region but I’m afraid you can never guarantee what you will get for that price. Sadly sometimes the wine could be faint in flavour and coarse in texture if from a lesser vintage and producer. Given there are hundreds of micro producers in that region it is beyond even me to know every one of them. Add onto that the limited supply, which means any good producer soon becomes sought after and the prices sky rocket. So I have to confess for my everyday Pinot drinking I tend to look a little further afield to places like Oregon, Southern Germany or Australia where I tend to get a little more consistency for the price.

52 grapes has yet again proven a nice excuse to crack open a bottle I selected for my job to be part of our fine wine range and was saving for a special occasion. Vosne Romanee is a particularly lovely sub region in the Cotes de Nuits side of the region. Here the reds typically have a dark cherry fruit and dense spicy character but this smaller patch of land is also known for having a beautifully perfumed aroma that makes it more feminine in style than other reds of that area. And that is exactly the type of Pinot I like. It is from the 2014 vintage which was fantastic for quality and age-ability, in fact we’ve probably opened this bottle a little too early.

Despite this I was pleased to find the aroma did have that bright perfume of rosehip and a touch of violet plus a defined smokey mineral note that gave it that complexity you expect from good Burgundy. To taste the fruit was pristine, all dark damson and crunchy black cherries straight from the punnet. There was quite a bit of oak adding more structure into the palate and shavings of dark chocolate but the underlying fruit more than matched it.  I felt there was far more under this youthful palate to come once the structure softened out with age. And that is the beauty of Pinot, if you were to buy a case of this wine and drink a bottle every few years you would experience an entirely new dimension each time.

Looking forward to hearing what everyone else has made of theirs.

Andy says: “Another one where I’m really struggling to come up with anything. I’ve read Emma’s notes and Googled tasting notes, and I’m just not getting it.

The only thing I can pick up on from Emma’s is the black cherry. It’s definitely there, but it’s not dominant or overpowering. I think I almost get the ‘smokey mineral’ comment too, but the thing I’m struggling with is the overwhelming mouth puckering. Is it tannin or acid, or both? I have no idea, but Googling tells me that Pinot usually has silky tannins, so maybe its acid? I get quite an intense burn on swallowing, which I suppose is more weight for the acid camp. I wish I knew.

Did I like it? Not that much, at first. But, a day later and another glass… yeah, it was ok. I probably shouldn’t be saying that about a forty quid bottle of wine. ”

Buying Guide

We will be trying a classic Red Burgundy made from 100% Pinot Noir this week. To follow suit head to the French red section. The wines from this area labelled with the village name rather than grape. Look out for the generic name Bourgogne Rouge or famed villages/regions such as Cotes de Nuits or Beaune, Nuits St Georges, Volnay or Gevrey Chambertin.

5 thoughts to “Week 24 – Pinot Noir”

  1. I’ve not tried a much ‘proper’ Burgundy before, and have never really got Pinot Noir, so this was not only a treat, but also a bit of test. Would it live up to the hype?

    I tried the Nuit-Saint-Georges 2015, Domaine Chantal Lescure.

    On sniffing it I was immediately wowed. It was clear straight away that it was something special – a beautiful, deep and rich nose. There was a soft complexity based on damson plums and hints of brambles and blackcurrants, overlaid with a distinct dull, savoury note – mushroominess, pencil leads and something herbacious (wet leaves? Tomato stalks?), plus an oaky tobacco mustiness. After a bit of air more fruit – strawberries and cranberries – started to rear-up. It really was a superb bouquet.

    The palate was a bit mute at first, but became delicious. It was powerful in terms of tasting the strength and dryness. Not hugely fruity – mainly the plums coming through. The savoury flavours were very present – earthiness and pencil lead with a tannic hug on the gums. The acid was noticeable on the finish, but the best bit was the length. Long after swallowing there was glorious halo of plumy flavour coating the mouth.

    Overall this lived-up to my high expectations, the nose in particular. It’s a very elegant class act. I now ‘get’ Burgundy Pinot Noir

  2. I thought I’d use this week to try a Burgundy I’d not tried before, so I bought a Beaune Premier Cru, which I then drank without making any notes, and all I could remember the next day, was that it was nice, rather typical Burgundy. So, being rather busy this week, I’ve had to buy the best that my local Sainsbury’s has to offer. (On a side note, of the three supermarkets I tried, Burgundy was very under-represented in comparison with Bordeaux.)

    Wine -Louis Max Côte de Nuits Villages, 2014, (Sainsbury’s £17)
    Bottle Says – Random Guff

    The colour is typical light ribena-ey red. There is a massive initial hit of peppery spiciness on the nose, revealing layers of red fruits (mainly raspberry), unripe plums and wet leaves. The wine is really bone-dry to taste, with quite a lot of tannins for a Burgundy. The general impression of the taste is a slight sourness (in a good way!) with cherry-stones dominating, along with hints of liquorice and leather, and a bone dry woody finish.

    Back in January, I decided my wine tasting adventures had become a little too region-based, so I decided to approach wine from the grape rather than the region. Pinot-noir was the first grape I chose, and I bought about 25 Pinot Noirs, all at different price points and from every country I could find. (It was during this very pleasant couple of months that I serendipitously discovered 52Grapes) In many ways this is a typical Pinot Noir, but there are a few anomalies, such as the high tannin levels, the astringency and the complexity compared to the usual smooth fruitiness. To me, this wine reminded me more of the New World Pinots than the typical French Pinots, I must do more research. 🙂

    A nice wine, but there are better examples out there; (I seem to remember a particularly impressive soft and velvety Nuit StGeorge being the pinnacle of the Pinot’s I tried.)

  3. If you gave your granny a glass of Pinot Noir and asked her to describe it she would probably say “sex in a glass”. She’d be right. On the other hand if you asked your slightly hard of hearing grandad what he thought of it, he would probably ask “what’s this wine called son ‘pee no more’. Maybe he’d be right, especially if he had trouble with his prostate!
    If Barolo is the king of wines then Pinot Noir has to be the devil. A devilish all-rounder, good on price, packs a punch and has a wide range of fruity flavours. Best way I can describe its taste is to suggest it’s like eating a bowl of fruit salad and like a fruit salad better consumed slightly chilled – delicious. Move over Sauvignon! I particularly like this wine because of its low tannin, it’s medium bodied and for me it has a pungent chubbiness all of its own.
    Now that I have rediscovered Pinot Noir I’m off to buy another bottle later. Just hope it goes with avocado, mushroom, walnut salad which we are having later. On this occasion I shall leave aside fruit salad and go with caramel pudding. If it ever comes on offer when I’m out perusing wines I might just buy half a dozen.
    Emma how long would this wine last if it were set aside?

  4. i tried the Underwood, Oregon Pinot Noir. I thought this wine had a wonderful fruity, blackcurrant flavour, but quite light and almost like a white wine.
    I think this wine is a lovely wine to have slightly chilled in the summer
    I was surprised that this light red wine had such a great flavour and would buy it again.
    I agree with Andy I didn’t get the mouth puckering bit ! May be next time !

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