Tag Archives: pinot noir

wine of week

Wine of the week: Pinot Patch 2013

pinot patchRegular visitors here know one of the Wine Curmudgeon’s favorite laments: That it’s almost impossible to find $10 pinot noir that tastes remotely like pinot noir (or $20 or $30 or $40 pinot noir that tastes like pinot noir, but that’s another matter). There are several decent $10 wines that say pinot on the label, but they’re more fruity red blends than anything else.

So I was quite pleased to meet Aaron Inman, whose family owns Romililly Wines, which makes Pinot Patch pinot noir ($11, sample, 13.5%) because that’s one of the reasons for being for the wine — to make a quality, affordable pinot that tastes like pinot. This California red has berry fruit, but not so much that it tastes like a fruity red blend, as well as that hint of earthiness in the aroma that pinot should have. Best yet, the tannins are zingy and not harsh, so that the wine doesn’t remind you of cabernet sauvignon.

Yes, it’s a simple wine, but it doesn’t insult you by pretending to be something that it’s not. In $10 pinot, that’s a victory for the good guys. Drink this with any red meat (burgers on the grill?) and be glad that Inman gave up engineering in favor of winemaking. And check out the picture on the Pinot Patch website of the young Inman and his brother Jesse on their bikes. Those are the kind of people I want making my wine.

winetrends

Oregon and pinot noir

oregon and pinot noirOr, how a state that everyone laughed at when it first started making wine has turned into one of the best regions in the world for pinot noir. That’s the subject of a story I wrote for the Wine Business International trade magazine. Given Oregon’s success over the past 30 years, and how little too many consumers still know about the state, and it’s worth noting the story’s highlights about Oregon and pinot noir:

? Oregon’s lesson for other states that want to be something besides a winemaking curiosity? Don’t be afraid to zig when the rest of the wine world is zagging. In this case, it was growing pinot when everyone else said it couldn’t be done, and not accepting the conventional wisdom that said they should do what California did. “The people who came to Oregon in the first place were pioneers, not just because it was a new region, but because they had a different spirit,” says Thomas Houseman, the winemaker at the 15,000-case Anne Amie Vineyards, who worked for Ponzi Vineyards, one of the state’s first producers. ?They really didn’t have an idea about what they wanted to do. They just figured it out as they went along. And that’s still part of Oregon.”

? Legend says that a group of growers smuggled the first pinot cuttings from Burgundy in France, home to the world’s greatest pinot noir, to get around federal regulations. Ask about the legend, and you get a lot of winks and grins.

? Pinot noir isn’t the only grape Oregon’s producers do well. Its pinot gris, fruit forward and crisp, puts most of the rest of the world to shame, and I have always enjoyed Oregon sparkling wine. Ironically, chardonnay has never fared well, despite the state’s favorable terroir, but producers are making another effort with the grape, and have enjoyed some success.

? Price is also an important part of Oregon and pinot noir. My pal Wayne Belding, MS, a wine educator and reformed retailer, says that “at $50 and $60 for the top-end wines, they provide value not seen with pinot noir anywhere else in the world. There’s a common style, delicacy and nuance. They aren’t trying to make powerhouse wines. ?

Want Oregon wine suggestions? Use the search box on the right side of the page and type in Oregon.

wine of week

Wine of the week: Bogle Pinot Noir 2013

bogle pinot noirThe Wine Curmudgeon has probably tasted more poorly-made pinot noir than anyone in the wine business. I mention this not to elicit sympathy (tasting badly made pinot noir still beats working for a living), but to reinforce just how well made the Bogle pinot noir is, and especially for the price. It mostly tastes like pinot noir, and there aren’t many $10 pinots you can say that about.

That’s because most pinot noir that costs less than $20 bares as much resemblance to traditional pinot noir as I do to an editor at the Wine Spectator. It’s too ripe, it’s too fruity, it’s blended with too many other grapes, it’s too tannic, and it’s too alcoholic, and tastes nothing like the traditional description of pinot — elegant and refined. This doesn’t mean many of those aren’t enjoyable; they just don’t taste like pinot noir.

Which the Bogle ($10, purchased, 13.5%) does. It’s not a $100 red Burgundy or $50 Oregon pinot noir, but most of what needs to be there is there: Enough fruit (mostly black), a fresh mouthfeel, and real pinot tannins, which invigorate the wine. It’s not full of the jammy sweet fruit that most pinots at this price opt for, and it’s smooth in the way many consumers like without insulting those of us who want more than smoothness.

The oak — too obviously trying to be chocolate — could be better done, but this is another example of how much Bogle cares about cheap wine and gives those of us who want to drink it value for our money. Highly recommended, and why Bogle has been in the $10 Hall of Fame since I started it.


Post sponsored by Famous Smoke Shop
If you are interested in enhancing the experience with a cigar, after speaking with a reputable industry leader in Famous Smoke Shop, they have suggested that this Bogle Pinot Noir would pair nicely with a Montecristo Classic cigar. The mellowness of the Montecristo which includes notes of cocoa and spice will work well with the oak and chocolate flavors of the Bogle. Purchase Montecristo and other premium cigar brands from Famous-Smoke Shop.

winereview

Mini-reviews 69: Marchesi di Barolo, Bibi Graetz, Clos du Val, Bolla

wine mini-reviewsReviews of wines that don ?t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month.

? Marchesi di Barolo Barbera Monferrato Mar ia 2012 ($10, purchased, 13%): Very nice price for a barbera that is mostly fun to drink. Look for dark berry fruit in this Italian red, plus a little earthiness. But there’s just enough oak to get in the way, and there’s hole in the middle that the oak doesn’t cover up.

? Bibi Graetz Casamatta NV ($13, purchased, 12.5%): Nothing really wrong with this Italian red, made with the solera method, in which grapes of different vintages are blended. Simple and well-made, with cherry fruit and some acid, but it needs more than just that at this price.

? Clos du Val Pinot Noir Carneros 2010 ($32, sample, 13.5%): Nothing at all wrong with this California red wine. It’s almost polite — with proper weight, fruit, tannins, and alcohol. But I want more than polite for $32.

? Bolla Soave Classico 2011 ($8, purchased, 12.5%): This Italian white, which is what we drank if we wanted Italian white wine in the 1970s and 1980s, was surprisingly Soave-like given its age. Thin, but varietally correct and still drinkable.

winereview

Christmas wine 2014

Christmas wine 2014Wine suggestions for the holiday next week, whether you need to buy a gift or aren’t sure about what to serve family and friends, be it for dinner or just because:

? Sileni Pinot Noir 2013 ($16, sample, 12.5%): This red wine from New Zealand has been winning awards around the world this year, and why not? It tastes like pinot noir, with dark cherry fruit, soft but still noticeable tannins, and no hint that the wine wants to be anything other than pinot noir, like lots of alcohol or over the top jamminess. If it doesn’t taste like red Burgundy, and I don’t know why it should, it tastes like what it is — one of the best pinots at this price from anywhere in the world.

? Grgich Hills Merlot 2010 ($42, sample, 14.8%): Another remarkable effort from Grgich, which has been making this sort of wine for so long we tend to take it for granted. This California red somehow combines high alcohol with style, finesse, and even some earthiness. Look for red fruit and an almost licorice finish. It’s big enough for red meat, but well made enough to enjoy without it.

? Chateau d’Archambeau 2012 ($14, purchased, 12.5%): Just when I’ve given up on finding white Bordeaux that tastes like white Bordeaux — minerality and crispness without an overabundance of citrus fruit — along comes this French white, made with two-thirds sauvignon blanc and one-third semillon. Nicely done, and worth the extra couple of bucks compared to something like Chateau Bonnet. Sip on its own, or with holiday turkey.

? Argyle Brut 2010 ($22, purchased, 12.5%): Argyle always seems to show up in holiday wine roundups here, but there’s a reason for that. It’s one of the best sparkling wines, dollar for dollar, made in the U.S. — about half the price of its California counterparts, and with that much better quality than less expensive California bubblies. Lots of apple fruit, but also some creaminess. Drink for toasting or with almost any food that isn’t prime rib.

? Hacienda Araucano Reserva Carmenere 2013 ($10, sample, 14%): Carmenere is a red grape from Chile that is supposed to vaguely resemble an earthy merlot, but mostly tastes like grocery store merlot. This wine, from the same family that owns Bonnet, is carmenere the way it should be, and especially at this price. Look for black fruit and some grip, a welcome change from all of the flabby carmeneres on the market. Beef wine without a doubt.

More about Christmas wine:
? Christmas wine 2013
? Christmas wine 2012
? Wine of the week: Astoria Prosecco NV
? Wine of the week: Little James’ Basket Press NV

winereview

Mini-reviews 66: Les Griottes, Ecco Domani, Rios de Chile, Rauzan Despagne

wine reviews ecco domaniReviews of wines that don ?t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month.

?Pierre-Marie Chermette Les Griottes 2013 ($19, purchased, 12%): Very pretty rose form Beaujolais made with gamay that has cranberry fruit and a hint of gamay’s grapiness. The catch, of course, is that it’s twice the price of a quality $10 rose without being anywhere close to twice as good. Hence, almost no reason to buy it.

? Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio 2013 ($12, sample, 12.5%): This Italian white, one of the leading grocery store pinot grigios, is neither good nor bad. It just is — traditional tonic water flavor blended with a sweet pear middle. Which is why it sells millions of cases. It’s overpriced at $12, but you’ll probably be able to find it for as little as $8 if you really want to.

? Rios de Chile Pinot Noir Reserva 2011 ($12, sample, 13.5%): Another competent, well-priced Chilean pinot noir that doesn’t have much to do with red Burgundy, but tastes more like pinot noir than its American cousins, the Mark Wests of the world. Simple but enjoyable, with some spice and berry fruit.

? Ch teau Rauzan Despagne Grand R serve 2011 ($10, purchased, 13.5%): Professional, French red blend from Bordeaux that is mostly merlot, with berry fruit and some earthiness. It’s a little thin through the middle, but that may be the wine getting old.

winereview

Expensive wine 67: Brandborg Pinot Noir Estate 2012

Brandborg pinot noirOne of the controversies amusing the Winestream Media, which allows its members to toss cyber-objects at each other, is the state of expensive pinot noir. It’s convoluted beyond description; for our purposes, it’s enough to know that some of my colleagues are throwing a hissy fit because other of my colleagues want to drink pinot noir that doesn’t taste like cabernet sauvignon. Sommelier Rajat Parr seems to be particularly disliked for advocating this kind of pinot noir, and I admire his thick skin.

The Wine Curmudgeon, of course, could care less about what his colleagues drink. Or argue about. Which is one of the differences between us.

Rather, I mention the controversy because the vitriol has gotten to the point where wines like the Brandborg ($38, sample, 12.8%) are dismissed because they don’t fit the current style. In this, the Brandborg is part of the resurgence in traditional pinot noir — which, oddly, I’ve noted here in several recent reviews, including this one and this one, without realizing it.

The Brandborg is quite nicely done, being both a varietally correct Oregon pinot and a wine with much more going on that just varietal correctness. It’s even big enough (though still balanced) that it needs food. Look for low alcohol, more fruit than a red Burgundy (black cherry?), and minerality, as well as a wine that’s still young and not quite all together. It’s going to get more complex and taste even better over the next couple of years, and offers fine value even at its price.