Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Pinot Noir Project: PiNOt Time Like the Present!

It's September 4th already? Wow, where has the time gone?! My kid will be turning 7 months this weekend, other people's kids went back to school today, and a whole summer has come and gone! In less than 3 weeks the first day of autumn will arrive, along with the fall colours on the trees, and the Pinot Noir project is set to come to a close on September 23, the day I have chosen to cook for my husband as part of his wedding anniversary gift. During the spring/summer I've been trying as many bottles of Pinot Noirs as I can get my hands on, without breaking the bank, since we moved houses late June. Like a good little WSET student, I have been keeping my tasting notes. Here is the abbreviated version of my tastings, sorted by wine region. I hope these notes will tempt you to try some PNs that may have caught your eye in the liquor store. Enjoy!

Canadian Pinots

1. Inniskillin Pinot Noir 2010
Nose: Hints of raspberry, ripe cherries, fresh-cut grass, white pepper, stone, a lot of medicinal notes after swirling.
Palate: Dry wine, high acidity, medium tannins, medium-bodied. I tasted ripe cherry and raspberry, white pepper, grass, vegetal flavors. Not a long finish.
I rated it: Acceptable. It contained a bitterness my palate didn't care for.
Paired With: Lamb shoulder roast, grilled asparagus & red bell pepper. Solid pairing with the vegetables, but I should have known better than to pair it with such a robust meat. One more lesson learned in the project!

2. Mission Hills Five Vineyards Pinot Noir 2009
Nose: Bouquet of blackberry, raspberry, dried cranberries, black pepper, hay, meaty, stony, and very pronounced medicinal notes again. A little bit nutty, too.
Palate: Dry, high acidity, medium/high tannins, very full-bodied. I tasted flavors of dried cranberries, black pepper, hay, nuts, eucalyptus, stone and cedar. Longer finish than Inniskillin.
I rated it: Good. It was a good representative of what a Canadian Pinot Noir can be, but it's not one I can see drinking a lot. A good wine to pair with red meat.
Paired With: Baked Salmon in Balsamic/Cherry Glaze. This wine overpowered the salmon and wasn't fruity enough to play nicely with the glaze. I think the wine would do better with lamb or pork with a spice rub.

3. Gray Monk Pinot Noir 2009
Nose: Strawberry, hint of blueberry, plum, mushrooms, coffee, damp earth. Fruit is faint compared to the others in the bouquet.
Palate: Dry wine, high acidity, soft tannins, full-bodied wine with notes of strawberry, plum, asparagus, hay, coffee, damp earth. Longer finish.
I rated it: Acceptable. Weaker Pinot Noir compared to other wines with fruit grown in the Okanagan Region.

Californian Pinots

1. MacMurray Ranch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2009
Nose: Strawberry, raspberry, plum, cabbage, hay, coffee, cream
Palate: Dry wine, medium acidity, some tannins, medium bodied. Cherry, strawberry, black pepper, perfume, coffee, earth. Medium finish.
I rated it: Good. The PN grape thrives in the Sonoma region of California, and this wine is no exception. There are better pinots from that region though! Also a great value.

2. La Crema Monterrey Pinot Noir 2009
Nose: Wild strawberries, raspberries, plum, rose, eucalyptus, hay, mocha, resinous, earth.
Palate: Dry, medium acidity, medium tannins, full-bodied. Strawberry, red cherry, white pepper, eucalyptus, green pepper, mocha. Medium finish.
I rated it: Excellent! I could drink this over and over and over and over...

French Pinots

1. Olivier Larochette Pinot Noir AOC Bourgogne
Nose: Raspberry, white pepper, toast, resin. Very earthy!
Palate: Dry, high acidity, some tannins, full-bodied. I tasted strawberry, raspberry, cloves, eucalyptus, coffee and resin. Medium finish.
I rated it: Good. Good representation of an AOC Burgundian wine.
Paired With: Grilled Chicken Pitas, Tapenade Polenta. Surprisingly good pairing!

What's Next: My focus for the remainder of the Pinot Noir project is on both California and New Zealand. I haven't spent a lot of time tasting either region, and I've heard fabulous things about wines from both. I'm also hoping to have a snippet on Champagne. Here's to a great 3 weeks of tastings!

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