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Friday, January 30, 2009

Pinot Noir Tasting Notes

Since I've not had the time or inclination to feed this blog lately, I thought I'd at least cross-post some of my recent tasting notes from Grape and Grain (though with minor tweaking).

Last Thursday (1/22) featured a pinot noir tasting, which was an absolute delight. If you know me, you know how I feel about the Sideways-inspired pinot craze. But there are lots of damn good ones out there--several of which were poured this night. A few were even priced reasonably. (Will wonders never cease?)

Also, I'm experimenting with a 100 pt. rating system. I started doing it for myself as a way to help me better access my memories and experiences of the wines, and I thought I'd include those ratings here to see how they float. Just remember, though--one person's 85 may be another's 92. The trick is to find a taster you relate to and trust her or his opinion (but even then, never blindly).

Now, the notes:

1. Chandon Brut NV ($24.99/bottle)
This is a basic, serviceable Champagne-style sparkler. Better than anything you'll get at most New Years' parties, though not as good as what you might expect for $25. For the money, I'd go with a Cava (Spain) or a Prosecco (Italy). Still, not bad. Rating: 83

2. Labaume Mercurey 1er Cru 2002 ($39.99/bottle)
Smooth and light-bodied, this Burgundy shows pure but lean, tart black cherry fruit with earthy, forest-floor secondary notes. Would be a beautiful wine, but ultimately the fruit is just too thin. Rating: 85

3. Tohu Marlborough 2004 ($24.99/bottle)
This is two-thirds of a brilliant wine: enchanting nose, gorgeous flavors, and no finish. Cherry, cola, cedar sawdust, and earth infuse this refined, medium-bodied, aromatic pinot. For food pairing, think cedar plank roasted salmon or duck stuffed with wild cherries. Rating: 91

4. Styring Signature 2005 ($26.99/bottle)
The beautiful, seductive, Old-World-style nose on this pinot suggests crushed violets, graphite, and musky earth. On the full side of medium-bodied and very smooth, with a solid core of acidity to keep the ripe fruit and deep, rich earthiness on their feet. Finishes with cherry and black licorice. Rating: 92

5. Au Bon Climat Santa Maria Valley 2004 ($39.99/bottle)
This wine's nose is rich and dark, with enticing if subtle nuances of earth, grapefruit, and medicinal herbs. Super complex and almost mesmerizingly smooth, the palate is a riot of perfectly-poised oppositions: bitter but sweet, brooding but upbeat, darkly rich but light on its feet. Gives weight to the normally empty term, a "drinking experience." Rating: 94

6. Kosta Browne Sonoma Coast 2006 ($69.99/bottle)
Unbelievably smooth, this wine features fine, ripe tannins to go with the standard bolt of acidity. The result is an uncommonly-structured, age-worthy pinot (5-7 yrs.) with indulgent aromas and flavors of cherry, fresh strawberry, sweet vanilla, cinnamon, and something like tree bark. Less challenging to the senses than the Au Bon Climat, this pinot is nevertheless expertly executed and (almost) too easy to love. Rating: 94

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