Tag Archives: Pinot Noir

Nuits St Georges


Claire and I visited Nuits St Georges during our recent Burgundian holiday. The D974 skirts the small, rather quiet shopping area which is given over to private shops and cafes; I guess most people are pulled to Dijon to the north or Beaune to the south.

The vineyards rise gently on the western escarpment and flatten to the south and east. Nuits has no Grand Cru (top Burgundy vineyard) but 147 hectares of Premiere Cru and 175 ha. of village Nuits vineyards. Jasper Morris’s  Inside Burgundy describes the classic Nuits style as ‘chunkier’. We tasted Dmne. Chauvenet’s village Nuits (13% abv) from the difficult but lately proclaimed 2010 vintage.

Brown rimmed but with a core of medium intensity red, the wine had the aromas of cooked black cherries These tertiary notes suggesting bottle age; there was also an aromatic maturity to the nose. The mouth feel was soft, the tannins identifiable but not obtrusive being accompanied by a light acidity. It had an attractive sweet/sour then dry finish but the full flavours I would describe as tight rather than generous. A lovely wine, not particularly complex, but quite in keeping with Morris’s description.

I find these pinots more interesting than the NZ because of their restrained quality but I can appreciate why they cause not a little frustration. Over to you, Richard.

[Richard: from TWS whose offer brochure said ‘lovely dense and soft Burgundy offered at a remarkably low price basically because of the sheer volume he has to sell. He has over 6ha of this wine! Take advantage!’ The last sentence, being, I assume a translation of ‘profitez-en’, often seen in French supermarkets under special offers. £18 in bond which is indeed a reasonable price for village burgundy. I’ve sometimes thought that WS tasting notes prefer enthusiasm to accuracy but ‘dense and soft’ sums it up. Not especially varietal but unmistakably pinot noir and nice to try one that didn’t disappoint. On a hot evening the wine started to become ‘soupy’ but 15 minutes in the fridge when halfway down the bottle helped considerably, something I can remember a Beaune restauranteur doing during the 2006 heatwave.]






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Warm climate – chilled wine.



Pinot Noir is a grape more suited to a cooler environment; it was a surprise, therefore,  to see one from the village of Magrie in Limoux near the French Pyrenees. This was the 2015 Solaire, Domaine de la Metairie d’Alon from a 25 hectare site of steep, limestone (loved by PN) slopes. It was also organic and hand-harvested and weighed in at 14% ABV. All this was gleaned from the very informative back-label, which included a small map. Provenance is all, so it seems.

It had the expected light colour, medium viscosity and a distinct purple rim. The nose had fruit-forward cherry and raspberry aromas which carried through into the palate. Of medium weight, it had a long, dry finish which at first seemed slightly bitter, but this faded. The lack of tannins – PN is a thin-skinned grape – made my tasting sample seem unstructured, which, when added to a spicy, jammy- fruit quality was not particularly attractive. However, I do acknowledge a personal preference for more leanness is reds. My response changed when I chilled it slightly and drank it with a steak and bistro salad; I enjoyed it much more and it was an excellent accompaniment.

This was a pleasant wine and needed chilling. It was also interesting to try a warmer climate Pinot Noir which, on reflection, was more in the New Zealand style.




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A good Burgundy vintage.


“With one arm and one eye you could make good wine in 2009.”   –    Laurent Ponsot.

Probably not a comment that is entirely PC in our world of the easily offended but I know what he means. Aloxe-Corton is an AOC just north of Beaune, 98% of the production being red wines made from Pinot Noir grapes. It is a village wine, typically described as robust and taking some time to mature.

The slightly brown rim and pale red colour indicated age and lightness whilst the nose had the sweet cherry and farmyard aromas of a typical Burgundy. (It wasn’t New Zealand – I was right!). The nose of good red Burgundy is wonderful and often flatters to deceive. This wine’s palate was soft and sweet in the middle with some delicate tannins and, as Richard opined, “pure and linear”. This most certainly wasn’t robust – but it was nearly a decade into its life. The finish was a little disappointing being slightly raw but it is only a village wine. Perhaps that rusticity of Aloxe Corton translates into the rawness when it ages?

Great to try a Burgundy again, thanks Richard.

[Richard: we’ve blogged this wine before, in late 2015. Two years on the woodiness we noticed then had gone (or perhaps there was bottle variation). On the other hand the finish was more impressive then. Either way a wine with an unmistakeable classy smell, albeit with a slightly disappointing taste.]


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The Pearl of the Cote


The title refers to a book about Vosne-Romanee by Allen Meadows which undertakes an in-depth analysis of the village and its wines. It has been regarded for centuries as the finest wine-producing village in the Cote d’Or (it contains six grand cru vineyards) and was originally planted by monks from the Abbey of St. Vivant in nearby Vergy in the 11th century. They leased the land to local growers. These religious origins seem apt for a Sunday tasting.

This was Dmne. Jean Grivot’s village VR, decanted an hour previously, from the tricky 2010 vintage which, belatedly, has been acclaimed as excellent.  Richard used his Pinot glasses (from Reidel) which was a giveaway as to the wine’s origin.

Appearance: Definitely brick-red/brown rim, light in colour, medium viscosity. The colour made me think it was older than 2010.

Nose: Vegetative, beefy smell, stewed fruits – cranberries but more strawberries, lots of tertiary (aged) notes.

Taste: Initially sweet, high acidity, structural tannins, very long complex dry finish. I said strawberries were the dominant fruit, Richard claimed red-currants but there was also an attractive earthy quality to the wine. Thinking back, I believe the wine, although looking old, still had bags of power and acidity; it’ll just get more elegant and finer as it ages.

This style of PN is so uniquely French which I think comes from the traditions that only a 1000 vintages can bring. It is ‘only’ a village wine but what a myriad of nuanced tastes it delivers.

[After the cranberry juice of last week I thought I ought to redress the balance by offering Geoff some of the good stuff. Excellent wine, perfect to convert a burgundy sceptic like me, If it was £10 a bottle I’d drink it every day. Which leads on to a mystery – I can’t trace where this wine came from, or how much it costs. I don’t buy much red burgundy which makes me wonder if it was a gift. Edit: it wasn’t. Purchased as part of a mixed 2010 case from TWS in 2012, delivered May.2013. There were two bottles but I can’t remember drinking the first one, although it was blogged in 2015 when I liked it just as much. Don’t think Geoff tasted it then. About £25 which is a bargain in Burgundian terms. ]

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Rare and rarer

Two things distinguish this wine (Norman Hardie unfiltered Pinot Noir 2015, WS £22). Firstly it is a Canadian pinot noir. Red wine from Canada is rarely seen, let alone a pinot – although we have blogged on Canadian chardonnay. This is from the same maker, Norman Hardie in Niagara. Secondly it is only 11.9%. I can’t recall the last time I tasted a red wine under 12.5% and even those are unusual.

Tasting the wine rather split opinion. I liked the delicate red-fruit style which, to me, looked like, smelt and tasted typically pinot. Not complex, certainly but very drinkable. Geoff also had a Burgundian pinot open which was heavier and more to his taste.

[Geoff: It did split opinion. Whilst liking its delicacy, I didn’t find the wine particularly complex. To me it tasted like alcoholic cranberry juice and reminded me of wine still undergoing fermentation. It lacked development which may come later, of course. Again, it’s interesting to taste these wine but I would not be tempted to buy.]

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Friends and neighbours

Geoff and I live on the same road and we take turns to host wine tastings. Usually the wines are tasted blind so we have no idea what to expect. This most recent tasting – with the wine below, by remarkable coincidence, featured wines from the same region, made within a few kilometres of each other, not that I picked up on this.

‘Not pinot’ I confidently exclaimed. Certainly the colour – a pale clear red – was typical but the nose with lots of strawberry and raspberry led me to think it was a differently vilified southern French variety. In the mouth, rather firm and tannic, lacking complexity and without the flavour the vivacious smell led you to expect. But certainly moreish. Needless to say the wine was pinot. Perhaps I’ve tried too many New World pinots recently…

As you can see, quite a classy bottle. I leave Geoff to explain the geography.

[Geoff: Aloxe is the first Cote de Beaune village you come to driving south; it sits underneath the hill of Corton. Traditionally the wine has been thought of as having a fine bouquet but rather robust on the palate and I would say that is what we found. This wine was one of several different Burgundies I bought from M & S after they had been considerably reduced – to clear stocks – from the normal retail of £35. At full price it would definitely not have been VFM, as Richard’s description implies. It was good with some rich flavoured boeuf bourgignon, however.]


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2006 Dmne. Louis Boillot Volnay 1er cru ‘Les Angles’


The wines from this premier cru vineyard are described by Clive Coates as ‘rather foursquare’ and lacking the elegance found in other Volnay wines. Other critics, in 2016, have stated how it needs some development. I’d be blunter and say this wine was not overly enjoyable.

Decanted 40 minutes previous to tasting, the brown rim and medium intense colour pointed to age and a cooler climate. The overwhelming vanilla aromas masked the slightly past-its-best smell (Richard called it ‘vegetal’ and ‘leaf mould’) which was not appealing to me. I did not pick Pinot Noir at all.

The taste was dry, long and cherry-like with high acidity but it wasn’t a generous wine at all and, to be frank, disappointing.

Evidently, 2006 produced patchy wines in Burgundy and this was certainly proof of that opinion.

[Richard: a poor wine lacking any redeeming characteristics. No improvement over the evening. I placed a negative review on TWS website (not published because the wine is no longer stocked) and received an emollient reply, suggesting that the wine is out of it’s drinking window (2011-16) and had lost the ‘charm of youth’. This is doubtful in my view, not least because a similar wine from the same maker and vintage was much better. I’m reminded of a phrase an old friend uses when we ‘enjoy’ a similar experience – ‘another disappointing Burgundy’.]

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