Posted by: tomciocco | March 5, 2012

WILLAMETTE PINOT NOIR: RED BURGUNDY’S BROTHER FROM ANOTHER MOTHER

Pardon my French, there ain’t no shit like red Burgundy. This is the sort of pronouncement to which some winos might reply “unfortunately”, and others, “Thank God”. The variability of Pinot Noir grown in its ancestral home of Burgundy is famous, or again, infamous depending on your proclivities. Most of what’s really great from this storied region costs a small fortune if you can even get the opportunity to pay through the nose for it, and vintage counts for a lot in Burgundy’s quixotic climate. There’s a thin slice of the total production that’s a great value, but way too much Bourgogne Rouge is all talk and no action (especially when considering what some of them cost), right up to some examples that are nothing less than one of the many hot looks in the emperors new line of clothes, if you’re picking up what I’m laying down…

So if juggling the names and styles of bazillions of tiny producers from even more, even tinier named vineyards, and the way that all of these miniscule plots perform under this, that, or the other weather condition is more than you signed up for, then the PN from the Willamette (pronounced “wil-LAMM-et”) Valley is the place to explore if you really love, or want to learn to love this grape. So much of the ethereal, ineffable, and sometimes odd but profound elegance that can come from Burgundy, can be had from Oregon with more reliability and at much better prices. This is not to say that Willamette and the Cote d’Or yield the same wines from this famously terroir-dependent grape variety – they don’t – nor should they, but for me, only the best wines from Burgundy better honor the agronomic and climatic needs and desires of Pinot Noir.

The dinner I made to go with this both organic and biodynamic wine consisted of a basic cream of (multi-) mushroom soup (no pic.- it just looked like a puddle of mud), and some sliced up country ham that I glazed and baked with a roux-thickened sauce of peach preserves, mustard, and red wine with a side of the American rice and beans classic Hoppin’ John.

 

Montinore Estate Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir 2010

Translucent, dusky ruby color. Natural, earthy nose of chalky berry and cherry fruit, Dutch Cocoa, underbrush, medicinal herbs, and sweet wood spice. The medium-weight body is smooth and nicely balanced but lively with textured, complex flavors of raspberry preserves, fresh strawberries, vanilla bean, a sweet, oil-cured olive note, and a gamey meatiness, all framed by a lean, tightly knit tannic fabric. Finishes with an elegant length.

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