Wine Talk

Snooth User: shsim

Pinot Noir and Holidays

Posted by shsim, Nov 27, 2012.

I have a question. Why is it that with the holidays, people start stocking up on Pinot Noirs? Was there someone who said that one has to pair holiday food (turkey, stuffings, ham etc) with Pinot Noir? I ask because local wine stores have been big on promoting Pinot Noirs! and I keep hearing about it.. I havent noticed it in the past years since I was not as into wine then. Isit just Pinot Noir is gaining popularity? 

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Replies

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Reply by JonDerry, Nov 27, 2012.

Burgundy seems to be on the uptick, at least with myself and a lot of the wine-geeks. I went my first couple years of serious wine drinking without really getting it, but with families getting together there seems to be something about the grape that brings both masculine and feminine qualities together. Plus as you allude to, it does pair well with foul, where Cabernet usually overwhelms those dishes.

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Reply by gregt, Nov 27, 2012.

shsim - I think the PN thing is largely fashion. In the 70s it was white Zin, then Chardonnay, then Merlot. Then there was a terrible movie that came out in 2004 about guys who went wine tasting in Santa Barbara and only wanted to drink Pinot Noir, disdaining Merlot. That actually affected the market believe it or not. Merlot sales went down and Pinot Noir became popular. Sales jumped nearly 20% in the next six months and would have gone even higher if more had been produced. So more was planted and produced and marketed and for the last six or seven years that trend has continued.

So yes, it's gaining popularity. Still way behind Cab and Zin, but from a smaller base, it's been growing faster. In 1990, there were 32,000 tons crushed, in the late 1990s it actually went down, then in 2004 there were 70,000 tons, in 2005 there were 90,000 tons, and in 2010, something like 147,000 tons.  

Producers like Loring, Kosta Browne, Siduri and others started in the late 1990s or early 2000s and as they got market traction, others emulated them

Burgundy is a little different. Historically, or at least since the 1950s, there's been a polarity between Bordeaux and Burgundy - one considered "big" and one considered "elegant".  That's obviously no longer true if it ever was, but there wasn't much else going on with wine. CdP was considered the rustic cousin - not entirely serious. There were some eccentrics who appreciated Italian wines, but for serious wine lovers, those 2 were it. That's no longer true of course.

Bordeaux dwarfs Burgundy in production and consequently, even among non-wine geeks, it's better known. When Napa came along, the producers modeled themselves on Bordeaux. Over the years, Napa Cabs got into a bigger-is-better mindset and Wall Street guys helped develop cult wines and Bordeaux amped up their marketing machine and their prices. A new generation of winemakers was priced out of the Cab market and also wanted to do something different. It's like in music or food or whatever - they don't want to do the same thing their parents did. So today in restaurants, you don't see a bit of paprika sprinkled on your dish, although that was considered quite chic in the 1970s.

And while some of the earlier PN producers of the latest craze went for big ripe wines, like Loring for example, more recent producers have tried to emulate Burgundy instead. They can't obviously, because they're on a different continent, but rather than make dark, inky wines, they're looking for something more subtle. Both trends continue.

And fashion will change. Don't forget, Chapoutier used to sell a lot of Syrah to producers in Burgundy. Personally I don't think there's anything magical about PN or Burgundy if you drink enough wine from elsewhere. But for marketing, in the US, it's still sometimes considered the opposite pole from Bordeaux. And that brings up one additional issue IMO.

Parker is identified with Bordeaux and has been rejected by Burgundy drinkers. A lot of people who are fairly new to wine have decided it's cool to hate Parker and consequently reject everything he promotes and to like what they think he doesn't like. That's simplistic but it happens and there are many people who are very new to wine who decide that they're going to love Burgundy for those reasons. Some really do love it - that's undeniable. But there's a whole contingent who just doesn't have enough experience to dismiss every other grape and yet who has done so. It's illustrated on boards like Wine Berserkers.

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Reply by napagirl68, Nov 27, 2012.

GregT-  i agree that PN is in vogue, and the fashionable thing to do now.   And when something is in fashion, more people do it, right or wrong.   But when you have more folks making something, say PN, there is also a higher probability that more will have to get it right, especially if they are aspiring to emulate the Burgundian style.

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Reply by gregt, Nov 27, 2012.

You had me totally with you until the last 10 words!

In some places they blend it, in others they just make it the way they make it and don't apologize for the wine they produce in their vineyards w/out trying to emulate someplace else. One reason I love Zinfandel is that there's no French model for it. Thank God they didn't plant it in France in the 1800s!

But yeah, it's a good point - as more people do something, you get a higher probability of someone or someones getting it right.

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Reply by napagirl68, Nov 27, 2012.

Burgundian style meaning lighter, more balanced, old world style, food friendly, etc, etc,  pinot.

Actually, the term "burgundian-style" pinot is COMMONLY used out here in CA to describe a more "old world" style of pinot.  Perhaps technically misused, but it has gained a sort of "definition" here in CA.

 

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Reply by shsim, Nov 28, 2012.

yea i agree, good point about higher chance of getting it right when more people do it. Personally I havent  enjoyed pinots very much... except one or two ... I have enjoyed burgundies but not all of them. So perhaps I just am not a fan. Thats one of the reason why i noticed, because i thought, wow am i missing something here? 

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Reply by outthere, Nov 28, 2012.

You are missing something here. There is a big quality curve when it comes to Pinot Noir and more isn't necessarily better. Pinot is regarded as a difficult grape that is not easy to properly Vinify. That shows in the plethora of fruity/off dry/high alcohol Pinot Noirs available on the market. More of it just lowers the bar because the entry level, undiscerning wine drinker doesn't know any better and figures this is what it's supposed to taste like. Burgundies are highly regarded due to how/where they are grown as well as how they are made. A lot of the Pinot Noir grown in Caliornia is grown in too warm a climate, in the wrong soil, over cropped and over ripened. The resulting wine is not going to be a true representative of the variety.

But the average wine drinker is the one that drives the market so we're in for more fruity, gloppy, oakey Pinot Noirs in the mainstream market. Look to In Pursuit of Blance mentioned in another thread to find what true Cali Pinot Noir can be.

Anthill Farms, Ceritas, Copain, Littorai, Failla, Hirsch, Red Car, Wind Gap, Peay... Pure, elegant, floral, perfumed, perfectly balanced, cool climate wines that age gracefully. Pinot done right can be spiritual.

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Reply by shsim, Nov 28, 2012.

Ar im glad to hear that OT, I guess to each his own. Some people just like their wines fruity etc and so they tend to like that about the plethora of Pinot Noirs you are talking about. I might be one of them haha although I havent enjoyed very many Pinot Noirs... So im trying to figure out what it is that I enjoy. 

Recently i went to a Pinot Noir tasting and found that I put a neutral or squinty faces by them. One that I kind of enjoyed was Walter Hansel 2010 Russian river South slope Pinot Noir. Any take on that?

I have tried Copain Pinot noir and thought it was alright. We did taste a lot that day. 

so the rest of the Pinot Noir tasting had the following:

Antic Wine co 2011 Central coast

Baileyana 2009 Edna valley Grand firepeak vineyard

Foley 2010 Santa Rita hills

Melville 2010 Santa rite hills estate

Calera 2010 Central coast

COHO 2009 Russian River 

Au Bon Climat 2008 Santa Maria valley Nuits Blanche

Walter Hansel 2010 Russian River South slope

Domaine Serene 2008 Willamette valley Evenstad reserve

The Domaine Serene was incredibly smooth! Most of them have an herby taste (typical of cool climate Pinot noirs?). The Melville was enjoyable as well and i noted that it smells slightly different from the rest. 

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Reply by shsim, Nov 28, 2012.

Also, this is what I wrote for Lea turner vineyard Pinot Noir 2010. "Juicy and acidic with a drying end, this wine is jammy and plummy with notes of watermelon which I found interesting but that is what I wrote as I tasted. Pinot Noir confuses me." 

It was a weird one since it was quite unlike other Pinot Noirs...

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Reply by outthere, Nov 28, 2012.

I worked for the late Walter Hansel in a previous life at his Ford Dealership in Santa Rosa. He used to serve his wines at the company Christmas parties. Hs son Steven took over the winemaking duties many years ago and has elevated the brand. His wines hug the line between cool climate elegance and RRV cola. Very nice wines that appeal to people on both end of the spectrum.

I read your blog while back about your trip to J and Copain. Tasting rooms pour their entry level wines and tasters normally don't get a good read on the winery based on the few wines served. I got the impression from your notes that your palate isn't tuned to the style of Pinot I enjoy so I may not be the best advice.. Tastes evolve over time and you may or may not shift towards a different taste. The journey is what makes wine so much fun though. Enjoy the journey!

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Reply by outthere, Nov 28, 2012.

Jammy, plum and Pinot don't belong in the same sentence if you ask me. The first part of your description was working for me though.

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Reply by shsim, Nov 28, 2012.

Haha! That's what I thought. It sounds like a warm climate Pinot noir. Yea i guess I have to drink more and figure out what I like. Before that, its nice to have a sense of what they are supposed to be like. The Lea was enjoyable (juicy!) but if you gave it to me blind, I might not have thought it was a pinot... 

Ill look out for the ones you mentioned! "Anthill Farms, Ceitas, Copain, Littorai, Failla, Hirsch, Red Car, Wind Gap, Peay"

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Reply by gregt, Nov 28, 2012.

"i went to a Pinot Noir tasting and found that I put a neutral or squinty faces by them."

shsim - for that you are now officially my favorite poster on Snooth.

Sorry everybody else.

Of those above - Wind Gap is the name of a brand by a guy who lost the rights to use his own name. He used to make big, huge, massive Syrah but got into a dispute with his partner and developed a new wine brand and a new approach, completely rejecting his earlier bigger-is-better style. His wines are actually very interesting and I liked them in both versions, but his PN is far and away the least interesting of them IMHO. He realized that where people think they should plant PN, they actually should be planting Syrah and he's doing excellent work with it. As is his former partner, who recently re-christened his brand Donelan wines. They're also worth looking for.

Peay is big stuff for the most part. Or to be fair, I'm not as familiar with their "restrained" style. Have had plenty of it and it's OK, but not my fave. Copain is to me, a very interesting producer. Zins and Syrah seem to get a savory, smoky element that's quite wonderful actually and I should probably drink more of it. Always good, but again, the PN isn't my fave, esp when they do so well with the other grapes. Someone thoughtfully sent me a bottle recently, which was quite gratifying.

Brian Loring makes a big, jammy, awesome Pinot Noir and he's unapologetic for getting the fruit ripe where he's growing it. I like his attitude.

There is, or was, a producer called Nicholas that nobody talks about but I took a 1996 PN from them to a tasting with a bunch of Burgundy hounds about a year ago and they all loved it. We're getting together again next week so maybe I'll bring my last bottle. Or Patricia Green PN, which is always disappointing but people know the name and know they're supposed to like the wine.

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Reply by napagirl68, Nov 28, 2012.

It's all about our personal palates, right?  I just received my 2009 Soliste Narcisse Sonoma Pinot, and can't wait (but will, to let it settle down).  I was also a huge fan of the 2008 LIOCO Sonoma Coast pinot, which started with red currants, a bit of cranberry, then another layer of flavor appeared, of asian spice, followed with an essence of orange peel.  That is my style of pinot.  Others here do not agree, and that is ok.

I saw an Anthill Farm pinot at the wine shop in HALF MOON BAY last weekend- ~$65.  I don't remember which one.  I almost bought it, because I have never tasted their wines, but was recently disappointed by a pricey Dutton Goldfield purchase, which was just ok. 

But this IPOB event looks promising, as I hopefully can taste Anthill, Littorai, and some of Soliste's single clone, single vineyard, matured in single cooperage Pinots...  I think Sonatera is still available, but L'esperance is sold out (only 49 cases) :-(

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Reply by gregt, Nov 29, 2012.

LIOCO?

IPOB?

 

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Reply by napagirl68, Nov 29, 2012.

LIOCO wines (how they spell it):

http://www.liocowine.com/overview.html

IPOB (my acronym)-

In Pursuit of Balance:

http://inpursuitofbalance.com/#/about/

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Reply by outthere, Nov 29, 2012.

Pax is getting his name back from Joe Donelan and is going to bring back the PAX brand. I think it will release next year.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Nov 29, 2012.

So today in restaurants, you don't see a bit of paprika sprinkled on your dish, although that was considered quite chic in the 1970s.

I want my rice pilaf!

GregT, I actually agree that a vast number of the places that are growing PN should be growing Syrah.  Sometimes they do grow some Syrah as well and I almost always find that it does better. 

I disagree that "burgundian" pinot--at least from Burgundy--is more elegant and less oaky.  There's just a huge range in Burgundy, but a lot of the premier cru level stuff that I have had is pretty tricked up with oak. 

I do agree that really good Pinot is, if not a spiritual experience, something enjoyable in a way that other wines just don't approach.  Not better, but a really different experience that is more ethereal word-defying than other wines.  Even if that doesn't make me GregT's favorite poster.

But back to the original point:  This year I had cab franc with my turkey and I am wondering why I ever did anything else.  Why stock up on Pinot for the holidays at all? Great Loire reds for prices in the teens, and they pair brilliantly with fowl.  No brainer.

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Reply by shsim, Nov 29, 2012.

"Not better, but a really different experience that is more ethereal word-defying than other wines"

Haha I had to read that one twice. Meaning of Ethereal on Dictionary.com. 

1.      light, airy, or tenuous: an ethereal world created through the poeticimagination.

2.
extremely delicate or refined: ethereal beauty.
3.
heavenly or celestial: gone to his ethereal home.
4.
of or pertaining to the upper regions of space.
 
I'll stick to 4. 

 

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Reply by gregt, Nov 30, 2012.

Well, Cab Franc with turkey might actually work. I just got done tasting a bunch of Garnacha so I'm not able to think clearly, esp as I'm sipping an  Amontillado as I write, but I'm thinking next year I'm serving sherries during Thanksgiving. Those can be word-defying. And this weekend we'll have old Rhone Syrah and those can be as well. Once or twice a year we get a bunch of people together who just love PN and Burgundy and their challenge is to bring the best stuff they can and we'll bring something and taste them all blind. This was supposed to happen last month but looks pushed off till Jan. Too bad you're not in town Fox and NG. My prediction is that it will be another fail for those guys. PN is just another grape, not something superior in any way. And while they learn this every year, they still make excuses!

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