Great Pinot Outside Burgundy

When most think about Pinot Noir, inevitably it gravitates toward Pinot from Burgundy with all those great producers instantly comes to mind with a grin.  The magical Roumier, Leroy, DRC, D’auvenay, Dujac, Drouhin …too many to name and great crus like Bonne Mare, musigny, chambertin, La Romanée etc. for obvious reasons. There is simply no other grape like Pinot Noir with its wonderfully intoxicating perfumes, purity and depth it can achieve, and how it can reflects “terrior”. It takes well to french oak and, in bottle, develops silky textures and alluring undertones of truffles, leather and gamey.

Despite pinot is notoriously finicky in the vineyard, difficulty in the winery and has proved difficult to grow in certain climates and soils, Pinot Noir is finding home in locations that stretch far beyond its classic growing regions from ocean-influenced sites in Chile, Patagonia in Argentina, and the Sonoma Coast, New Zealand , to Italy’s Alto Adige and throughout Germany and Austria, and far, far beyond.

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Have to admit I have been very much a Burgundy lover, not a stuck up but who can actually resist Burgundian magic?  However same time, I have been exploring and fell in love with quite a few pinot maker around the world.  There are definitely some fabulous one if you know who are they and how to find them.

Had this great opportunity at a wine lunch at Conrad hotel’s Nicolini organized by ASC Fine Wine sitting with a few talents I love : Alois Lageder from Italian’s Alois Lageder Andreas Wickhoff MW from Austria’s BrundlmayerJean-Marie Bourgeois from Henri BourgeoisDamien Yvon from New Zealand’s Clos Henri and Nicolas Happke from Chile’s Chadwick. 

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It is not too hard to find great cool climate Pinot not far from Burgundy such as some German spätburgunder, while Austria also have some great maker like Brundlmayer.  Besides their amazing grüner veltliner from Kamptal, their Pinot Noir Reserve 2015 was rich, assertive and classy with silky tannins that is immediately enjoyable today. 

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From Austria we jumped to Italian Pinot.  Here was Krafuss, a cuvee from Alois Lageder.  I have been introduced to Lageder Krafuss by a dear wine friend and since then it became my daily Pinot (not only because it is bit tough to consume great burgundian everyday but this italian pinot is seriously delicious).  A lot may question if Italy is good for the fragile Pinot Noir to grow, I bet Alto Adige region may be the one of those few that fits and excel in it.  It consists of mountainous countryside just over the border from Austria, in the northeast of the Italy.  His Pinot always have this cool-climate elegance, with subtle, bright fruit flavours.  The Lageder Krafuss 2013 we had was elegant wine with a delicate approach of wild berries.   I especially like its floral violet note, a wine always silky with a lean texture. Not the cheapest pinot on earth @usd50 but never hesitate to open at home after a stressful day.

Another popular Pinot choice is from America while some may think Pinot from USA may be jammy and lack of elegance but it seems like a lot of makers are improving their approach in Pinot there, some has fantastic quality.  when is good it can be great with concentration such as Black stallion heritage los Carneros Pinot 2014 from Napa we had.   It was a medium bodied, dense one with bold ripe plum and raspberry with spices and hints of cola, balanced acidity with supple mouth feel.  Very sad to know what happened to California recently and some of the vineyard had been seriously damaged, will certainly treasure these wines and wish them a speedy recovery.

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Chile makes great Pinot I love, beside Talinay up north, this Errazuriz ‘Las Pizzaras’ Pinot Noir 2014  from Aconcagua was delicious.  Francisco Baettig, winemaker of Errazuriz, chosen sites which is close to the coast where there are outcrops of schist. Top of the slope gives precise and mineral wine without that sweet fruit taste that is common in many Chilean wines.  Generally, Francisco is taking all his wines in a direction of earlier picking within the range of potential alcohols of 13.3-13.8. and this 2014 is only at 13.5%,  it is a medium body one with lovely bright, floral, red cherries with great energy to it with spices and mineral notes that’s typical of schist . Côte de Nuits style with freshness and depth. This is a small production wine from the family’s best vineyards of the Manzanar farm with pure slate soils. 2014 is 1st vintage of this cuvee.  50% whole cluster pressing. Aged in 50% new oak.  Louis Michel Liger-Belair of Burgundy consulted on this wine. 500 hundred cases made at around USD 70 per bottle.  I suspect price may goes up more sooner or later. Do grab a bottle soon if you have a chance! 

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After all the red, it was perfect to finish off (and to start of course) with the amazing Laurent Perrier Alexandra (80% Pinot 20% Chardonnay) after a all-too-rare moments!

With the world in search of Pinot while pinot finding new homes in all these countries, the implication for personal consumptions and business is becoming significant, which I believe, is great for all pinot lovers.

Few Pinot I also like are Domaine Drouhin Oregon, Résonance, Marcassin, Felton Road, Dry River, Yabby Lake, Kusuda, Furst and Ata Rangi, etc.

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