Vino Rouge Red Wine Tasting September 2, 2015

pinot noir tasting

Finally it was my turn to host a tasting and like always, I tried to try something a little different. For a start, for the first time ever, we got together at Phil’s Main Street Bar and Grille in Wakefield, RI. Upon arrival, we were served with some nice menu choices as follows…

1st Course
French Onion soup or New England Clam Chowder Or House Salad w/ balsamic vinaigrette or Caesar Salad

2nd Course
Prime Rib – slow roasted & served with their savory au jus, horseradish cream sauce, freshly baked popover, garlic mashed potato & farm fresh vegetable of the day.

Chicken Marsala – All natural chicken breast, garlic mashed potato, marsala sauce with farm fresh vegetable of the day.

Asian Sesame Grilled Tuna – Served over a ginger lime rice with a mango-pineapple salsa served with farm fresh vegetable of the day.

3rd Course
Double layered chocolate cake Or Moscato Berry Tiramisu

Now to why you’re really here…the the wine! While the color in each of the glasses was a giveaway of what we were having, most of the club was surprised that brother Vin would bring the clubs favorite summer varietal, Pinot Noir, and pit California verses Oregon in a Pinot Noir Dual.

Pinot Noir is the red wine grape of Burgundy, now adopted (and feverishly studied) in wine regions all over the world. The variety’s elusive charm has carried it to all manner of vineyards, from western Germany and northern Italy to Chile, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and perhaps most notably, California and Oregon. It is the patriarch of the Pinot family of grape varieties – so called because their bunches are similar in shape to a pine cone (pinot in French). Other members of this family include Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Meunier, Aligote and Pinot Noir’s white-wine counterpart, Chardonnay.

It takes a great deal of care and skill to make Pinot perform, and the results vary wildly from watery, acidic candy water to some of the richest, most intensely perfumed wines on Earth. This elusive perfection has earned the variety obsessive adoration from wine lovers all over the world.

The essence of Pinot Noir wine is its aroma of strawberry and cherry (fresh red cherries in lighter wines and stewed black cherries in weightier examples), underpinned in the most complex examples by hints of undergrowth (sous-bois). Well-built Pinot Noirs, particularly from warmer harvests, also exhibit notes of leather and violets, sometimes approaching the flavor spectrum of Syrah.

pinot noir tasting

Here was the lineup…

Oregon
2012 Montebruno Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir – $29.99
Eola-Amity Hills is an AVA in the center of the Willamette Valley in Oregon, just north of Salem. This bank of hills lies west of the Willamette River and runs for roughly 15 miles north-south between the towns of Amity and Eola. All of the land within the AVA must lie at least 200 ft above sea level, and vineyards sit on both the sheltered eastern slopes and the more exposed western slopes of the hills. The cool climate here is well suited to Pinot Noir.
The vineyard combines both volcanic and marine soils — the Willamette two-step — for a result evocative of the great wines in years past. Aromatic to the point of floral, like lilies, with pomegranate, wild strawberry, cracked pepper and matsutake.

2013 Vincent Crowley Station Vineyard Eola-Aminty Hills Pinot Noir – $44.99
Limestone, sand over sandstone| Non-irrigated| Native yeasts | 100% destemmed | 3 week fermentation in macrobin, with 9 days of punchdowns, then racked to 8 yr-old barrels for 11 months| 13 yr old vines that are own-rooted | 48 cases produced
Floral, red fruit, even a lychee note in the aroma, with bright cran-raspberry and delicate herb flavors and a soft but still focused finish. This wine is a sneaker.

2011 Foris Rogue Valley Pinot Noir – $21.99
Bright red. Lively red berry and floral aromas are deepened by notes of cola and licorice. Smooth and supple on the palate, offering sweet raspberry and cherry flavors and a hint of white pepper. Closes with good tangy lift and cut, with no obvious tannins and good, spicy persistence.

California (Sonoma Valley)
2012 Trione Russian River Valley Pinot Noir – $34.99
Coastal notes of sea air, forest floor, and blackberry brambles remind me of a top down trip to Jenner. Flavors of black cherries, hints of truffle, and sage linger on the palate. This wine is muscular but well balanced and displays long aging potential, 10-15 years.

2013 Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – $52.00
Shy and reserved, this cool-climate wine opens coyly with a burst of spearmint on the nose, evolving into layers of flavor steeped in rhubarb, black cherry and tea. Soft and lilting, the wine’s finish conjures thoughts of strawberry cream. Fresh fruit aromas of cherry, plum, and raspberry are followed by hints of sandalwood, mineral, and leather. Unfolding with flavors of plum, raspberry and spice. Tannins are supple creating a long, soft finish. A blend of Sonoma Coast vineyards.

2013 La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – $24.99
Fruit for this wine came from cool estate and grower vineyard sites within 30 miles of the Pacific Ocean. 100% de-stemmed, 3-day cold soak, basket pressed, fermentation in open-top tanks, punch downs three times a day during fermentation, minimal post-fermentation maceration. Aged 7.5 months in 100% French oak barrels, 21% new. Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. A rather savory nose with aromas of spiced plum, black cherry and forest floor. Light to mid weight flavors of cherry, and oak-driven black tea and anise, framed by suave tannins. Pleasant, but rather shallow in this vintage with a thin finish.

DESSERT

Offley Boa Vista Port
The color is still deep red. Classic nose with rich, figgy, almost maltiness of very ripe grapes, very sweet, full bodied, loaded with fruit, extract, tannin, acidity. The palate is sweet with good fruits but a bit of alcohol heat. Good length. Hot finish.

Our members were deeply in love with two of the six glasses which had a total of 44 out of 55 points. We all know that the Russian River Valley of California is a great place to make Pinot Noir wine because of the track record of the great Dehlinger and Rochioli vineyards. The number one favorite with 23 points was the little known 2012 Trione. It had good body with lovely berry notes and a flattering bouquet. The number two favorite with 21 points was the 2013 Crowley Station from Oregon. It also had good body with a slightly silkier mouth feel than the Trione.

Tied for third with modest point totals of 4 points each were the 2013 Flowers from the Sonoma Coast and the Foris from Rouge Valley. Both wines were quite nice but I believe that the Flowers was a bit young and reticent. The well-known 2013 La Crema garnered 3 total points and I believe it was holding back due to its youth. La Crema is the most well-known wine in this group and is present on restaurant wine lists probably more so than any other Pinot Noir. As one member accurately pointed out, the Montebruno from Oregon with no points was flat because it was unbalanced, lacking in the acid category.