The Dollars, Euros – currency units of whatever kind, that I shell out when it comes to Pinot Noir, are ideed few, but that said, I love the grape, and the reason for this low expenditure is largely one of value, or rather lack thereof…The occasional Bourgogne Rouge can deliver a well-made and well-priced wine, and with the proper knowledge, and a fat roll of banknotes certain Grand Cru Burgundies can literally change your life, but I’ve also tasted one too many $30-$40 duds to put lots of Burgundy into the regular rotation.
And let’s not just make this a Burgundy slap-around. California makes lakes of Pinot Noir, but all too often in places better suited to warmer climate varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, which strips the wines of much of their typicity while packing on the chubby fruit, and lots of alcohol. No good. Chilean Pinots, though better priced, in my experience, can be as dodgy as Burgundy…
To be fair here, Pinot Noir is indeed famously difficult to grow anywhere, but its Old World cache` and its fashion in the New World has led every Tomas, Diego, and Barry to plant it high and low, whether it’s suited to his terroir or not. But if Burgundy is a tad shabby, but still the King of Pinot, Oregon (particularly the Willamette (pronounced wil LAM et) Valley) is the hip, rising Crowned Prince. This region matches Burgundy’s cool and damp climate, and has a similar range of soils, but it yields more consistently year to year (in terms of quantity and quality), and receives a good bit more sunshine which allows Pinot Noir to produce a new and place-driven “tonality” that doesn’t efface its mysterious, often odd, but unique expressiveness.
As the title indicates, it was a cool and rainy day here in New Jersey, so the oven became an option, so to allow the wine to fully “stretch out”, I applied it to a classic culinary canvas of a whole herb-roasted chicken and potatoes. The first course was an improvised black bean and tomato soup, that while not any sort of classic match with this sort of wine, went remarkably well with it nonetheless.
Capablanca (NW Wine Co.) “Sueno Profondo” Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2009
Limpid, transparent ruby red color. Clean and layered nose of almond pudding, blackberries, cherry cordial, wood smoke, and oregano and dill, on a ground of floral chalkiness. The palate shows a youthful muscularity that is nonetheless polished and relaxed with a cohesive and balanced medium body that spins off complex, lively and crunchy cherry, strawberry, and rhubarb fruit, Darjeeling tea, and cardamon flavors. Softly tart and warm finish.