Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Pinot Tasting

Tonight, Stephanie, my loving fiance, and I created a minor pinot noir tasting from three half-bottles, and I'd be happy to share my notes. As this is my first wine-related post, it will give you a chance to appreciate my particular palate. Feel free to disagree. All wines were served at the same temperature in identical glasses, and accompanied a delightful dinner of grilled pork chops, roasted yukon gold potatoes with rosemary and shallots, and grilled yellow and green zucchini.

Cherry Hill Winery Estate Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2003 - The bottle opens with a warm aroma in the glass and a distinct alcoholic tinge. At first the wine struck me as a classic example of the plushly textured Oregon pinots that I love, but as it opened it took a decidedly Californian turn - opulent, but flabby fruit, etc. This is not the kind of wine I enjoy, with food or on its own. The fruit was overdone, overwhelming an immodest degree of oak.

Willamette Valley Vineyards Vintage Select Pinot Noir 2002 - For the first 20 minutes, this wine showed almost no meaningful aroma, except a slight hint of alcohol and ester. On the palate, however, it proved to a be a delightful beverage - classic Oregon cherries and red berries. A medium-full body was buoyed up by, to my taste, an immoderate amount of oak, creating a rather spicy finish, with notes of bacon fat and licorice. A fine wine, but for the oak.

Dom. Amiot Guy Chassagne-Montrachet Vieilles Vignes 1999 - You wouldn't know you were drinking a 6 year old wine from the color - just as dense as the much younger Oregonians. The wine opened with a pleasant aroma, showing off both its lingering youth and its oncoming maturity. The fruit was still present, but it was mingling nicely with the first hints of truffle and damp earth. Surprisingly bold for a burgundy, this wine held up nicely after the meal, as well. The palate was in perfect balance - what oak there was only served to highlight the depth and purity of the fruit. This is the kind of wine I really enjoy.

Each of these wines cost between $12 and $18 per half-bottle. My favorite is clear. The 99 burgundies are really starting to show well these days, particularly those from the lesser-regarded Cotes de Beaune regions like Santenay, Volnay, etc. Stephanie and I have been drinking a number of these recently, and they are performing beautifully - lingering fruit balanced by approaching maturity. For village and 1er cru level wines in the 20 to 30 dollar range, these are excellent buys - if you can still find them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I recently came across your deliberations on certain lower quality Pinots. Your palete seems to still be young, and of the experience most suited to those who have recently graduated from academic years of box wine gulping.
But have patience friend, with time those oak tastes that seem to distract your joy will be replaced by subtle hints of natures age -- morning rains, permeated fog, a bit of rabbit fecal matter --- really all quite pleasant when your toungue grows wise.

Alas, if I may request, you make mention of this 'Stephanie'. I may, perhaps, enjoy your column more with her photo accompanying the various bottles. For that matter, yes, I think I would even enjoy your smug look while sampling your grilled zucchini and cheap wines.

And if you choose to accompany said bottles with suggestive poses, then I may choose to pass your site unto other similarly minded oenophiles.

I shall be visiting again, and would even be willing to set up my video cam do you can watch as I slowly succulate my cherised fermented grapes. And perhaps join, in a cross-cyber communique of sensuous vino exploration.

cheerio son,