If there is one grape to get those on here enthused, bemused, angry or indifferent it has to be Pinot Noir.
The recent WS Burgundy ‘offer’ careful with that word, was a typical starting gun for opinions on the prices, alternatives style you name it opinion was given, nowadays it is ever thus.
My own position is well known to those who bother to read my comments, going all the way back to that seminal bottle of '66 Clos de Beze by Rousseau purchased for a song around '70 as a bin end, oh happy days, my complete falling out with rip off Burgundy in following years, not just for the price but the appalling lack of quality control, at those prices I really don’t want 50% poor bottles, so I stopped buying it, simple as that.
But the new world and other alternatives have revived my interest to a degree, mainly out of curiosity, it wont be a mirror image of the Cote d’Or but I would not expect it to be, but could they give a decent substitute at a reasonable price.
I cannot give a definitive answer to that at this juncture, I doubt anyone can, but my thoughts and tastings are here in a small way for you to read agree, disagree or provide your own take on the grape.
The first obvious large scale effort to grab a piece of the Pinot Noir sales was from NZ, it now as a an earlier article said on here with SB takes the Lions share of NZ sales abroad, has despite the sales, it been a total success, not for me, from the start far to many were thin, green, bland, the use of unripe fruit shone throughout far to many of the PNs that across the seas, even going up the price scale was not a guarantee of ripe fruit.
That has changed but really from the ones I have drunk only further up the price scale, the lower levels whilst improved are to me rather bland still, a good example was from Villa Maria, a reliable brand across the board, their PN was on offer, that word again, at 25 % off and already reduced so a no brainer to buy, was it worth it, perfectly drinkable and instantly forgettable for at normal prices a £15 wine, the first PN from NZ I thought was decent was a Saint Clair at around £25, nothing from there at below that price has been to me worth bothering with, need less to say my tasting has been limited so usual disclaimers pile in.
Chile is interesting, no problem it seems with ripe fruit in fact the reverse of NZ to ripe or unbalanced seems to be the big problem, but they are giving PN the full treatment with the use of high altitude sites and different latitudes as well as the usual different site variations, Cono Sur part of Concho y Toro has as much as been given the brief to go for PN in a big way, they already hold sway in the entry class with Bicicleta seen everywhere and sold in large quantities, doesn’t do much for me but at that price you at least recognise it is PN which is more than some can say, and that is a feature of nearly all Chilean PNs they have the fruit, as they up their game and start producing at more premium levels it will be interesting to see the results.
Germany’s resurgence with the grape is largely down to the change in the weather, thin pale Spatburgunder has given way to ripe fruit and a totally different wine, I can’t give an opinion on a personal level as I have drunk so little of it so far, my only contribution is a case of Holger-Koch top cuvee in my cellar, not quite ready yet, but not long…
What is good about Germany’s new prominence is that they are not new to this difficult grape they have been growing it for 500 years so they know full well how to take advantage of the weather they are now getting and it bodes well.
The USA as with so many of their wines prices itself out of the market on many wines, they also have no problem with ripe fruit and because as a drinking nation of their own wines and the fact they like full on styles jammy PN does appear to often a terrible example I had earlier this year was a bottle of 667 PN from Waitrose, best described as drinking high alcohol diluted strawberry jam, awful but all part of the investigation, two surprises at the cheap end were a Trapiche PN from Agentina at around £6.50 perfectly drinkable and a the big cheapie winner the own label Waitrose Romanian PN when on offer, as in cheaper, coming in at a ridiculous £4.75.
Of others readily available the Cono Sur reserva especial at around £9 is a good buy, the Errazuriz Coastal series is drinkable, as in enjoyable without having to worry about things like terroir, and the Tescos Hans Baer Spatburgunder at £6 was awful despite the plaudits in the press, must have been a hug involved to get those write ups.
Santa Ritas Chilean PN like so many left that slightly jammy almost sickly taste at the end but if you don’t mind that was also drinkable, I even drank Tescos own label Marlboro PN at around £9, this has been oak casked according to the label which made it drinkable and hid the pale fruit used, not for me.
So we come to the end of a small trawl, poetic licence there, leaves just two others both from the WS TARRAH !
Firstly this from Concho y Toro
at £8.50 not much wrong with this at all, have tried it a couple of times and enjoyed, got the fruit but avoids the jamminess, good buy and for me as good as any in the lower up to £20 bracket.
And lastly this one drunk last night in company, a lot more to it well balanced berry/ forest floor slight strawberry nose, cherries plums blackberry in there in the mouth, nice wine but spoilt itself at the end by evolving into a slightly more jammy version, up to then the clear winner of all the cheapie, relative PNs ihave tasted.
I really only included that picture to show off my own self grown and trimmed topiary in the background before the dreaded box disease caterpillar gets it as it runs rampant through the country virtually unstoppable.
I am sure you all have your own take on PN having said so much about it anyway recently.