Tag Archives: Pinot Noir

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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Definitely Burgundy


Tasted this (2012 Réyane & Pascal Bouley Volnay) blind with Geoff on Sunday and was not in the least tempted to wonder if it was a New or Old World pinot. Quite pale, typical nose, pure refined taste although rather raw and tannic on the finish. But savoury and mouth filling. Clearly Old World but my attempt to place the wine within the region was totally wrong in that I thought northern, rather than southern Burgundy.

[Geoff: I was delighted to share this with my drinking partner; it seems he is better at choosing between Burgundy and NZ Pinot than I am.  Following a classic Pinot nose of sweet red fruits, this wine was quite lean in the mid-palate but none the worse for that. However, as Richard has commented, it came across a little too tannic at the finish which might suggest it needed more time. Or that it was a good village wine with no further pretensions. Which reminds me of that James Thurber line “it’s a naïve domestic Burgundy without any breeding, but I think you’ll be amused by its presumption.” Quite appropriate, in this case.]

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He did it again!


“This is a Burgundy.” I declaimed. “It’s firm but nicely aged and serious.” Richard laughed and produced the Ata Rangi 2009 from Martinborough, on the other side of the world to Dijon. He’d done it again. So much for the skills of the wine taster!

The colour was an intense brown-red with a distinctive brown rim. The nose was pure and sweet with the aromas of bitter cherries giving it the ‘come-hither’ attractiveness of Pinot Noir at its best. This was followed by a big mouthful of serious wine, mature and of medium length – surely typical of a well-matured Cote de Nuits?

Nope. And after Richard had enjoyed his revelation and my embarrassment we then got to discussing how lacking in complexity this wine was. It’s easy to be wise after the event and start developing theories once you know the result.

[Richard: as you can see from the dust, another from the depths of the ‘cellar’. Purchased about 5 years ago for £37, so certainly Burgundian in price. Compared to the Chambolle of a couple of weeks ago this was bigger, richer but less complex and nuanced. Unfortunately I’m running out of New World pinot so this is a game that hasn’t got much longer to run.]



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The gift bearer …


Christmas Eve eve and Richard arrived bearing a gift. Neither frankincense nor myrrh, but gold in the form of Chambolle-Musigny 2012 by Domaine Hudelot-Baillet. (Okay, that’s it with the Christmas references). CM, as every reference book seems to say, is the most delicate of the Cote de Nuits reds but – as all reference books also say – there is a multitude of different styles from the commune. Logically, the second statement appears to negate the first. Anyway, our tasting showed the following.

A clean, bright wine, it had an intense, but light red colour with a brownish rim. As usual with good Pinot Noir, the smell was magnetic, each sniff revealing something interesting. The strong primary fruits were black cherry and cranberry but overlaying a slight vegetal note. Richard remarked on the deeper, beefier note. We also detected some spice – presumably from the oak ageing – and the firmer, herbaceous qualities of under-ripeness. This was so much more complex than a NZ Pinot.

The palate had grippy tannins which made it firm mouthful with the acidity keeping it lean. Light in weight, the under-ripe quality was still there, with Richard picking up a floral, violet note. Not a lush wine, this was beautifully restrained, and, yes, delicate. There was loads more development in this (village) wine as the tannins and acidity hinted. A lovely drop which confirmed my preference for lighter reds.

[Richard: a generous Christmas present from my father-in-law. Nothing much to add to Geoff’s very full and accurate description. A lovely French pinot which I really enjoyed drinking.]

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