Mysterious Saint of the Pampas Thirsted for Pinot Noir

Diffunta Correa

You are driving along a two lane back road in Argentina on the way to the second highest peak in the Cordillera Blanca.

Endless expansive high plateau plains on your left. The snow topped Tupungato volcano on your right. No vineyards yet but they will appear soon. Crude roadside memorials appear every 30 minutes. Some are just stone piles surrounded by plastic bottles. Others a bit more ornate with scarves and a tiny shelter for a rough figure. These are homemade monuments to Diffunta Correa, a revered saint of the people among common folk in Argentina and Chile. She died from thirst and starvation but had enough breast milk for her infant to feed on her cold breast milk for two days.

high holidays searchers

Outside the cities, out on the endless roads we find the crudely constructed pleas for her protection. You have to believe if you want to get holy.

We have been away from Pinot Noir a long while…traipsing through the Rhone like Sherman marched through Georgia…sans the unfortunate burning and pillaging. Slowly, gradually, we have explored with a destination in mind but without a plan how to get there. We have drunk our way through the Rhone, the communes of Beaujolais, Provence and the Languedoc. We even looked at Cahors. We were in La Maremma, a region that is officially part of Tuscany but may as well have been Bordeaux. We climbed into the mountainous terrain around Minerve and the pocketed valley of St Chinian. We did die from thirst. But we fond ourselves starving for the most noble of all vinifera; Pinot Noir. Good value Pinot Noir. Wine of the people. Sacramental drink of the cognoscenti. We have no shrine. We did find several bottles.

2009 Olivier Guyot Bourgogne Pinot Noir $22: From Garagiste imported through his Free Run company. A bit tight, restrained. Muscular and a little dumb. Not complicated at all. Maybe another 6 months to show some style? 12%

2008 Alma Rosa Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir $20 at Whole Wallet I mean Foods. Drinking perfectly right now. Shows why the “entry level” wine with the screw top from the right winery is usually a great value and not just a good deal. Lots of rich sinewy SRH fruit. At this price if you see it pick it up. 14%

2010 Malibu Sanity Pinot Noir $35: The latest release from Charles Schetter. Tasted in the company of premiums from Barolo and Burgundy so the youth and young vines was more apparent. Still has good fruit and a beguiling transparency in color and flavors. We have seen this wine improve with a couple years time. Every reason to believe the wine will develop in the bottle once again with this vintage. 14%

2008 Sweeney Canyon Pinot Noir $50: Unfortunately, a featured winery from our Halloween edition. The 2008 vintage shows more fruit than the 2007 which is the only other vintage we have tasted. Seems a bit more simple as well. We have good SRH fruit not made in the “blowsy” style. Shall sit on this another year before cracking again. 14%

2007 Dewey Kelly Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir $20: Down to the last couple bottles. Dewey Kelly is the winemaker for Ribbon Ridge which is more widely known. However, this is not a second label of RRV. This is Dewey’s wine made in his most accessible style. True to the generally maligned 2007 vintage in Oregon the fruit is restrained. We liked the style then and we still like it today. This wine is ready to be finished. Nothing fancy here. Just a very good value that will be impossible to locate in general. Worth seeking out in more recent vintages. 13%

2010 Fess Parker Bien Nacido Pinot Noir $30: Blair Fox makes this wine for Fess Parker. Shows classic Bien Nacido fruit with the big bottom and exotic yet recognizable flavors of smoke and toffee fruit. Blair Fox likes the big and ripe style but he has shown a restrained hand with this wine. 14.7%

Do we worship Pinot Noir? Hard to say. However, if you are looking for a path to heaven and the Via Delarosa is not your thing, and if you want to impress the high priests of tBoW with a red wine…make it Pinot…or Barolo…or a Super Tuscan.

Got something to add?