The Heart Break Grape
One of the most finicky yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is a labor of love for many. However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. In fact, it is the only red variety permitted in Burgundy. Highly reflective of its terroir, Pinot Noir prefers calcareous soils and a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality and demands a lot of attention in the vineyard and winery.
It retains even more glory as an important component of Champagne as well as on its own in France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions. This sensational grape enjoys immense international success, most notably growing in Oregon, California and New Zealand with smaller amounts in Chile, Germany (as Spätburgunder) and Italy (as Pinot Nero).
~ Selections To Be Tasted ~
2015 Jean-Jacques Girard
Savigny Les Beaune, Burgundy, France
Jean-Jacques Girard’s family was growing grapes in Savigny-lès-Beaune back in 1529. That, as the French say, is ‘formidable’and would make the domain one of the oldest in Burgundy.
Savigny les Beaune lies in a peaceful valley rimmed in hardwood forest. The soil make-up under the rim ranges from crumbly shale to compact clay, and expositions range from north-east to full south, giving incredible diversity within a relatively small zone. Generally, however, Savigny produces some of the most perfumed wines of the Cote d’Or, both red and white.
Winemakers Notes: Bright, perfumed nose of cherry and summer berry fruits. Vibrant, with a black fruits core and floral undertones of violets. Glorious, purity. Lovely feminine Pinot Noir. Smooth finish.
2012 Luna Vineyards Pinot Noir
Santa Rita Hills, California
When Luna’s founders first laid eyes on the Luna property in 1995, they instantly recognized the magic and the amazing potential of its estate vineyard, perfectly located along the Silverado Trail. They bought the property and followed their dream, building a winery that paid tribute to the varietals that set Napa Valley apart.
Winemaker Notes: Sourced from vineyards perched on the dramatic cliffs of Santa Rita Hills, Luna’s inaugural Pinot Noir is an expression of the best of the coastal, limestone soils that make up this captivating region. Aromas of Sandalwood, Bing cherry, rose petals, and violets on the nose Dried strawberry, black raspberry, and fragrant baking spice on the palate.
2016 Aurelien Verdet
“Le Prieure” Hautes-Cotes de Nuits
Aurélien Verdet, born in April 1981, is an enthusiastic, driven young winemaker. His father was one of the pioneers of organic viticulture back in the early 1970’s and since his retirement in 2005, Aurélien has carried on the tradition. Aurélien’s own Domaine comprised almost 4.5 hectares of Hautes Côtes de Nuits until 2009. In that year, he took over vines under a farming agreement in Vosne-Romanée village and 1er cru Beaux Monts as well as Nuits St Georges 1ers crus Damodes and Boudots. This entitled him to declare them as Domaine holdings. His total under vines in the Hautes Côtes has since been extended to almost 6 hectares. Aurélien’s purpose-built, modern cellar is located in the sleepy village of Arcenant in the Hautes Côtes de Nuits less than 10 kilometres west of Nuits St Georges.
Wine Enthusiast 92 Points: A beam of cherry, herbs and spice marks this juicy red. Tips slightly toward the tart side, offering frank fruit and moderate length. Drink now through 2022. 300 cases imported.
2014 The Eyrie Vineyards
“Sisters” Pinot Noir
Dundee Hills, Oregon
David Lett, aka “Papa Pinot”, was the first visionary to realize that Oregon’s Willamette Valley was the best place in the world outside of Burgundy to grow fine Pinot Noir. In the early 1960s Lett explored high-quality Pinot growing possibilities around the world and discovered the “secret” from the French that the finest wines come from grapes which grow at the climatic edge of where they will ripen in coincidence with the end of the growing season. David and Diana Lett planted the Willamette Valley’s first cool climate vinifera wine grapes in 1961 and produced their first vintage in 1970. David Lett passed away in 2008.
Today, his son Jason manages the The Eyrie Vineyards. The philosophy and style have not changed. The vineyards are farmed organic, vines are old, yields kept low, yeasts are native, alcohols low, acids balanced, winemaking non-interventist, new oak very minimal to non-existant. The achievement is ageworthy, characterful wines of finesse, elegance and food friendliness. The Eyrie Vineyards was named for the home (eye-ree) of red-tailed hawks that share the Lett’s vineyard land in the Dundee Hills.
Wine Spectator 94 Points: The winery’s vineyards are now being showcased in a series of designates. Sisters includes the three Pinot “sisters”—Blanc, Gris and Noir—in a site just below Archery Summit in the heart of the Dundee Hills. It’s clean, compact, complex and nicely layered. You’ll note a spicy mix of cranberry, raspberry and red licorice, along with more subtle hints of curaçao and chocolate. The structure (and winery history) suggest that this will age quite well. Drink 2018 to 2030 and beyond.