A few months back, I was issued a challenge.
My father in law didn't believe that I could tell where different Pinot Noirs were from...
CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. (This just so happened to be super-bowl Sunday... what better way to prep for the big game than with a little Pinot Noir tasting?)
After having just gotten back from a trip to California, with the exception of maybe one or two Pinots, most of what we had out there were all pretty typically "Californian." In other words, big fruit-bombs. But to be honest, there are several producers who are doing amazing things out there (with more than just Pinot).
In retrospect, re-visting this tasting several months later, I now wonder if now I'd be better able to say Russian River Valley vs. Sonoma Coast. However at the time, for this exercise, there were no specific rules... Just to get as specific as I could get, which was basically country/year.
Below are photos of the wines and corresponding tasting notes.
Take a gander, then feel free to make your own guesses in the comments!
Wine # 25
Just by looking at the sheer number of notes, you can almost guess which wine was most complex (or maybe I just got tired by the last wine). Some highlights are the earthiness and bright, tart red fruits. With the floral notes, spice, black pepper I was thinking it was old world, since the acidity was quite high, and not too much alcohol. Since there was still quite a bit of fruit in this wine (strawberries, cherries, raspberries), but was still complex, I put this in Burgundy - THE place upon which all Pinots are compared. Burgundy is a topic that makes wine priofessionals weak in the knees (both out of sheer love and desire, and also trepidation and initmiation). It is such an overwhelming region, I won't even attempt to explain the little I know (with a few exceptions).
Since I did this tasting, I've learned a *bit* more about Burgundy, but not much. What is important to know is that the CÔTE-D'OR (The "Golden Slope") is the most Northern part of Burgundy where Pinot Noir is grown (Chablis is technically part of Burgundy, but in this very Northern location, Chardonnay is the big-dog). This Golden Slope is where the "top" Pinots are from. Though I thought this was a lovely wine, the fruit was very "in-your-face", and I would have expected a Burgundy from this cooler section to have less fruit-upfront. Therefore, I hypothesized that it was from a warmer part of Burgundy, perhaps the CÔTE CHALONNAISE. There is some rim variation on this wine (a little clear near the edge of the glass), so I'm thinking this is a little older... maybe 2008?
I went back and forth on this one a bit, but I ended up in Burgundy again, but this one I thought had seen more oak and there was something "weird" going on here... I didn't write this down, but I had a hunch this was a biodynamic producer. It had some earthy, mushroomy, and well... "poopy" characteristics. Not in an entirely unpleasant way, but more of a "this wine was made by an old school farmer who does everything by hand and has animals running around the vineyard" kind of way. This wine was even more fruit forward than the first one. SO, I was thinking somewhere in Burgundy, and a couple of years old... Maybe 2010.
Ha. I love my first notes are, "baked fruit! red! new world!"
It didn't feel like California to me, and for some reason, I just leapt right to New Zealand. 2010. Done.
I should have thought about this one some more and made some more notes. Whta about a Chilean Pinot Noir? Or something from Australia? Why did I just pick Marlborourgh, NZ? I guess it just reminded me of this previous wine I've tasted...
Stuck my nose in the class and knew.
Even from the color, you know that this one is not like the others... Much more dark berries, jammy, stewed fruits. Strawberry Jam.
Correction: BOOZY Strawberry Jam.
I did not dislike it, just a totally different animal. I was thinking California, maybe Russian River Valley, where they are known for this bold, super jammy type of Pinot Noir. In part, because of the climate, in part because of how they treat the wine (more oak, I believe). Actually, the "DB" in my notes stands for DAVID BRUICE, who is well known for his Californian Pinot. I really felt ike I had this wine before, so I made a leap and guessed producer on this one. Though to be honest, I know my mother-in-law likes this wine, and it would not have been crazy to have a bottle of this somewhere.
Oh yeah, and vintage. Again, I didn't think this wine was that old... 2010.