Thus Spracht Der Pinot Mouse

kinggangsta09WEB.jpg[ed. always an enlightening treat when featured field reporter Mouse tells a story about an evening circling the globe without leaving his chair]
On a cold Connecticut evening, ten people gathered to seek the Pinot. No longer elusive, as it was in the 1980s, this once fickle grape makes good wine in many places. In fact, this was our goal, to go around the globe with Pinot Noir, the most feminine and enticing of all wine.
I mean, really, if you had one wine to drink, what would it be? [ed. PINOT PINOT PINOT…NOIR]
Our target areas were two Burgundian Cotes, California, Oregon, New Zealand, Chile, Australia and South Africa. Missing, in earnest, was Austria, a country whose reds are vastly underappreciated here. But that’s for another day.
One note before our plane takes off: if you are going to taste Pinot, don’t upset her and put her alongside showy varietals like Cab, Syrah or Sangiovese. Let her be, or she’ll politely put on her nightie, go to her room and lock the door. She wants your sole attention. Oh, the jet turbines are running…….
veranda_pnnoir07WEB.jpgFlight One: A Brick and a Slam Dunk
2007 Veranda Vineyard Pinot Noir Bio Bio Valley Chile $17
2007 Hamilton Russell Vineyards Walker Bay Pinot Noir Hemel en Aarde Valley South Ef-Reh-Ka $46: 13.3%
Let’s get the night’s lemon out of the way. The Bio Bio was pooey pooey. Scott, my chum for the night, said he thought he tasted minerals but he was sure he found brick. Tasted the chrome on my dad’s 1960 Buick LeSabre Convertible. I was nervous; did these people come to my house for naught? Should I be spanked for trusting the drooling salesman who claimed it would stand up to a night of class pinots? No mice. No stinking mice.buickconv60WEB.jpg
Oooooo. Ahhhhh. The land of ruggers provided a treat. The crowd favorite. Scott found all-spice and smoke. I tasted plum. No longer cheap, Hamilton Russell makes great pinots and chard. Perfect balance. I recall the mid ’90s, when apartheid was lifted and the wines started to become more accessible. Meerlust Estate wines and hamrusPN08WEB.jpgthis label were about $12. Unknown and unreal. Still, South Africa is somewhat exotic here. Find a semi-sweet Steen, their names for Chenin Blanc. Yummo. Anyway, when we let the natives loose on the eight bottles when dinner was served, this Hamilton Russell lasted eight seconds. Two very happy mice.

Flight Two: Loring Extract and a Cote de Disappointment
2006 Pali Wine Company Momtazi Vineyard Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon $25 (discounted): 14.9%
2005 Dominique Mugneret Nuit-St-Georges les Fleurieres Cote de Nuit, Burgundy, France $60: 13%
palimomtazi2WEB.jpgLouise loved the Loring. Why? Louise would prefer to drink dark ink if it had alcohol. Loring, a fine, kind man, makes Pinot that the French would not understand. I barely do. I mean, I like it, but it’s not Pinot; it’s a young Chateauneuf-du-Pape. [ed. forgive tBoW for linking to post on very same subject] He grinds the grapes and turns the run-off into gout de grenache. Tasty, but Pinot? Oak, sweet, deep brambleberry. Pali and Loring have gone their separate ways, and I think it’s due to his style, which is better kept on his LWC label. But, a real nice guy who’ll mail you a replacement wine without question if you didn’t like the first one. 1.5 mice, because even though it was not Pinot, it was good.

dommugneretWEB.jpgMugngeret, like Morey and Gagnard, is a common surname in the Burgundy. I had never tried anything from Dominique, and probably won’t ever again. This was the most expensive bottle of the night. It was opened hours earlier. Without food, this wine didn’t open and even with the lamb stew, its fruit had to be coaxed out. I got a little violet, like a Barolo from an off year. Scott thought it was nuanced but not in balance. Maybe this Pinot was pissed that it had to share the spotlight with so many neophytes. Whatever. It was why people don’t buy Pinot. And 2005 is supposed to be the vintage of the decade? Whatever. OK, I should have spent another paycheck for a Premier Cru. Oh, Madame Burgundy, I try to love you but you make fun of me before my friends. A mouse, squeak squeak, step on me, crunch me.
[ed. man up! no mouse for you! Becky Wasserman offers interesting background on this particular Mugneret house]
Flight Three: A Big Surprise and a Regular, Dependable Joe (Rochioli)
2007 Drystone Berridge Family Vineyard Pinot Noir, Central Otago, New Zealand
2004 Rochioli Estate Russian River Pinot Noir California
drystone_2008_pinot_noirWEB.jpgBest flight of the night. The NZ effort, purchased for $20 from, blew me away. Totally in balance, tasting like a five-year-old Pinot, grassy in a good way, cola, Pennsylvania cherry – I could go on. Alert: forego Marlborough Pinot and search for the Otago, which are now streaming into the States. A crowd favorite. Two mice. Perhaps stingy, but there were no absolute show stoppers that night.

rochioliPN04WEB.jpgI have long loved the wines of Rochioli, introduced to me years back by the blogmeister. He has since soured on them (price?), but I find them ever so true to the varietal, whether it be Pinot, Chard or Sauvignon Blanc. This version tasted like the previous Drystone, just amped up with a steroidal kick. But not Loringesque. Deep, brooding, but spices and peaches popping out here and there. Definitively California, and making no apologies. Two mice. [ed. tBoW prefers Skewis from same area, less $$, posted Jan 30 this year on same bottle!]

Flight Four: A True Bargain and, Did I Tell You How Much I Love Burgs?
2006 Vincent Girardin Volnay Vieilles Vignes, Cote De Beanie, Burgundy, France $55
2008 Mosquito Hills Southern Flourier Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills, Australia $22
girardin_vvvolnayWEB.jpgOh, how I adore Burgundy, the only place where Pinto reaches its true zenith, the only terroir that can coax the true subtleties from this unfathomable grape. Ah, Burgundy, where the modest little farmers, dressed in their bib overalls, hold the secret to the world’s most enticing flavor. Can I ever try anything else. Ma is non! OK, you get the point. But this was good, and a great example of the Burgundy paradox when paired with the previous entry. Grading is one great negotiation, BTW. Volnay, always shy and often sexy, showed her silhouette here in a most generous way. Dex sour is.
mosquitohillPNWEB.jpgAs for the malaria wine, it was darn yummy. Our taste buds were quite exhausted, but Scott and I were impressed by this $15 offering. It was large, but nuanced and certainly tasted like Pinot Noir. More and more Australian Pinots are heading this way, and while I haven’t had a great one, I’ve some very decent bottles. Like this one, with its raspberry-root beer complexity. 1.5 mice.

There it is. A Pinot night. Not meant to show who makes the best wine, just a little tour. For the record, if you bet the trifecta, go with the Burgundy/Russian River/New Zealand ticket. Cheers!
[ed. Here are a couple links to other Mouse field reports: Rieslings and Burgs from Aug 09 and Itals plus a Martinelli PN from Jan 09]

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