The rest of the world always envied Burgundy as the only home for great pinot noir, but times have changed. That’s not to say the wines of Burgundy are less distinctive or lower in quality, for they certainly are not. In fact, the pinot noir wines of Burgundy are better and more terroir driven than ever. What has changed is finally other regions are really delivering a broad range of excellent pinot noir wines that are not trying to mimic Burgundy, but are standing on their own. Those regions include California, Oregon, British Columbia and New Zealand. We can only dream about the wonderful future of pinot noir in these regions and its homeland of Burgundy.
Below is a wrap-up of some lovely wines I tasted at this year’s International Pinot Noir Celebration. This list is by no means all-inclusive as I missed the chance to taste many wines as we were too busy pouring our own wine selected for IPNC, the 2003 Anne Amie Vineyards Hawks View Vineyard.
Highly Recommended Pinot Noir from IPNC 06:
- 2004 Quail’s Gate Winery Family Reserve, British Columbia, Canada - about as graceful, floral and delicate as pinot noir can get and still have substance and complexity. Absolute silk on the palate.
- 2004 Savigny les Beaune 1er Cru, Les Peuillets, Domaine D’Ardhuy - fantastic structure and concentration. Very tight, but a very multi-faceted wine that demands another five years in the bottle.
- 2004 Volnay 1er Cru, Clos de Chênes, Domaine Pascal Bouley - a wonderfully stylish and elegant wine with a punch that begs for another five years or more to grow up and out.
- 2003 Beaune 1er Cru, Vignes Franches, Domaine du Château de Chorey - even in such a hot year, the graceful and refined style of this Domaine shows through. This is one of the more enjoyable 2003 Burgundies you will find. Wait another three or four years before drinking.
- 2004 Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru, Au Closeau, Domaine Drouhin-Laroze - a classic, firm and very closed Gevrey that demands eight to ten years before pulling the cork. A smoky, mineral-laden treasure.
- 2004 Volnay Robardelle, Domaine Huber-Verdereau - I’m a sucker for the smooth, delicate and lingering character of good Volnay and this wine totally seduced me. Drinkable now, but wait a few more years for a real beauty.
- 2004 Beaune 1er Cru, Les Toussaints, Domaine Lucien Jacob - Lovely, graceful, delicate and expansively floral. As always, it will be better in a few years, but it tastes so good today I’d probably drink it up.
- 2004 Te Muna Road Vineyard, Craggy Range, New Zealand - Brilliantly clean, bright fresh and juicy. Lights up the palate with zesty, but complex fruit. I’d drink it young.
- 2004 La Encatada Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills, Alma Rosa, CA
- 2004 Carneros Estate, Bouchaine Vineyards, CA
- 2003 Santa Cruz Mountains Estate, David Bruce Winery, CA - Big, but balanced Pinot. Not at all ready for drinking, I’d give it at least five or six more years. Richly smoky and earthy, with tarry, but ripe cherry fruit. As big as it is, it never goes over the top.
- 2004 Cuvée Lollapalooza, Fiddlestix Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills, Fiddlehead Cellars, CA - Consistently one of my favorite California pinots. Rich, but very balanced and firm with great depth and complexity. I’d age it, but Fiddlehead pinot always seems to drink well whenever you open it.
- 2004 La Cruz Vineyard, Keller Estate, Sonoma Coast, CA - Here’s a real find that I’d never tasted before. Sleek and balanced with a graceful style and just the right touch of California ripe fruit. Really pretty.
- 2004 Bethel Heights Vineyard, Casteel Reserve, OR - From one of my very favorite pinot noir producers anywhere, Bethel Heights always leans towards complexity and balance not power and this lean beauty is no exception. A gorgeous pinot that should be aged at lease five more years.
- 2004 Mt. Richmond Vineyard, Elk Cove Vineyards, OR - Wow is this a lovely pinot! Earthy with just the right touch of sweet fruit on a just firm enough frame. Very, very nice.
- 2004 Ponzi Reserve, OR - While a lot of new comers get more press attention, old-timer Ponzi Vineyards keeps plugging along making some very nice pinot. Their single vineyards and reserve are always the real thing and show a wonderful refined and balanced pinot noir character.
- 2004 Witness Tree Vineyards, Vintage Select, OR