Sunday, November 26, 2006

AstroVino #9: Pinot Noir (& Beaujolais)

This past Monday we had the final night of wine-tasting in the class I have been taking this quarter. Focussing on the wines of Burgandy ("Borgogne" in French), we primarily had Pinot Noir, with one bonus bottle of Beaujolais at the end. Burgandies are apparently fairly fickle wines; to shamelessly quote from our notes, "... like the Cubs or Red Sox, it more often than not disappoints its ardent fans." The Pinot Noirs we tried lived up to the analogy: a few were delicious, while a few were simply not very good.

We started the evening with a 2003 Joseph Drouhin Côte de Beaune from Borgogne, France. (Côte de Beaune here is the coast being made fun of in the "Côte du Bone" from a few weeks ago.) An earthy wine (it "smells like dirt"), it seemed to become oakier as the night went on. Some people claimed to find hints of "chocolate and cherries" in it, but I didn't.

The 2005 Sebastiani Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast, CA was incredibly tannic and oaky; if you can get past this, it apparently is rather "fruit forward." We had a rather strange 2005 Parker Station Pinot Noir from Santa Maria, CA which was incredibly difficult to place ... it smelled something like fruit-scented Clorox, which is to say, like pineapples, pears, or candied apples, but kind of off. The 2004 Argyle Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley, Oregon was much clearer and paler than the others, and also somewhat more acidic. While some people claimed to taste cloves in it, it was really just "kind of yick." The 2005 Saint Clair Vicar's Choice Pinot Noir from Marlborough, New Zealand was one of the evening's spicier choices, giving off airs of black pepper and cinnamon.

One of the grad students taking the class donated a 2004 Laetitia Estate Pinot Noir from Arroyo Grande Valley, CA, which started off rather oaky, but got tastier and tastier as time drew on. I could actually believe claims of "chocolate and cherries" with this one, and also perhaps a lot of fruitiness.

My favorite wine of the evening, though, was not a Pinot Noir. Our bonus wine, a 2005 Morgon Beaujoulais from Romanèche-Thorins, France, is the only one on the list earning a smiley face. Beaujoulais wines are designed to be incredibly fresh and fruity, and are meant to be drunk in the year they are made. The grapes are fermented via carbonic maceration; the entire grape, stem, everything is thrown in the tank for the fermentation process. The Morgon we tasted was a dark purple color, smelled "perfumy," and tasted incredibly jammy, almost like blackberry jam.

We visited Charleston, South Carolina on Friday, and I saw a sign advertising an upcoming Beaujolais tasting. I was terribly excited by the fact that I know what that means! It's taken a few months, but the words associated with wine are no longer just nice sounding words: they actually have some meaning behind them ...

1 comment:

markE said...

Glad you enjoyed the Vicars Choice Pinot Noir :)