Old World vs. New World: Pinot Noir Part Deux

Is everyone in Pinot heaven yet? I must selfishly say that this is the most enjoyable red grape Old vs. New World exploration I’ve done since I went down the Grenache rabbit hole. I’m not even sick of drinking it yet. If anything, my thirst for it cannot be slaked and I’m not just saying that to use the word slake, but, my, isn’t that a tasty word. It is sharp and rich just like a good Pinot. Speaking of words. Now we get to all the Pinot Noirs known by other words. Words like Bourgogne , Burgundy , Sancerre , Menetou-Salon , Pinot Nero , Spätburgunder . Now let us look to the Old World old school OG Pinot Noirs! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ GERMANY In general, I find these lighter and…more purple—not in color per se but in taste? More dark grape and black cherry? Less oak? More like what Pinot in France used to be according to Greg Condes when he was on my podcast. I surmise this has to do with climate warming and a passion for oak. Anyway, I have a sweet spot for these tart Spätburgunders, as Pinot Noir is known in Germany, albeit many bottlings now also use “Pinot Noir” on the label. The regions most known for Spätburgunders are Baden and the Ahr. Interestingly enough, Baden is great for Pinot Noir as it is the furthest south ‘Anbaugebiet’, the term for 13 quality wine regions, in Germany. It is warmer. Ahr is actually the most northerly region making red wine. Steep steep steeeeep Eifel mountain slopes provides an aspect, or angle, to the sun and the Ahr river courses through to moderate temperatures. Dark volcanic slate soil absorbs all those rays, helping make Ahr warmer than Mosel, which lies just south. 2016 Wittman Rotwein Trocken Spätburgunder Ah yes rejoice, rejoice I say! Rejoice in a simple classic perfect t-shirt of a wine. It isn’t complex but it doesn’t need to be. Refreshing, and clean. Classic Pinot notes like cherries and cola but there is a hint of dirt. Clean dirt. 2017 Weingut Hexamer Nahe Weissherbst Spätburgunder Okay dudes, sorry I am sneaking this in. It is a red white wine. Like, white wine (although does this have a touch of onion skin hues? Methinks yah) but made with red grapes. It is so close to being a rosé, but if anything you’d think, um, oak aged or skin-contact white? Based on the color. From the Nahe region. Jeez, it is fascinating. Jarringly acid. Sharp and poignant somehow. And honeyed. Floral, and also a touch of vegetal. Fabulous. Enchanting. Do it. ITALY Italy is a country that…okay here is the thing that I have noticed: Italian wines are indelibly Italian. I don’t know how they do it. Wildly different varieties and expressions are found throughout the country but GOOD Italian wine shows up-is it the nature of the tannin? The certain earth character? I do not know how to put it, I just know that in a blind taste I sometimes don’t know the exact wine but I know it’s Italian. And Italian Pinots hold up. So, as in other countries, you see Pinot Noir in the cooler realms like Lombardy where a lot of grapes go into the Franciacorta, a sparkling wine in the Champagne vein. You’ll also find it in other northerly areas like Trentino Alto Adige, where as in Lombardy, there’s a goodly amount of Pinot grown for “Trentodoc”, the regions traditional method sparklers. But I included a Piedmont outlier, just for kicks. 2016 Travaglino Poggio Della Buttinera Pinot Nero Riserva I delighted in this at a trade tasting of Italian that squeaked by a mere day or so before all things wine, all things Italy, and actually, well, all things ANYTHING got shut down. I only hope they get back on their feet so more of this wine can be made! It was lithe, having spent a year in oak. It smells like Christmas in a snowy forest and tastes as crisp and cozy. 2010 G.D. Vajra PN Q497 Langhe Rosso A Pinot that drinks like a Nebbiolo. If you think about it, the wines share many a characteristic, biggest difference being different tannin levels. Then again, I also misidentified a Tasmanian Pinot as a Nebbiolo (see last week’s column), so Nebbiolo and Pinot are alike as they are different. This offering came about when Nebbiolo was banned over 497 meters in the Langhe, that is what the “Q497” is about. The PN is for Pinot Nero, albeit I believe now they label it as such. Mayhaps because people thought it was Nebbiolo. Smells cherry, full and not too ripe. It is Pinot that has attitude. Does it need adjustment? Nah. FRANCE Oh I have so many honorable mentions for France although I imagine you know them already: Bichot , Pillot , Jadot —if it rhymes with fo sho, it’s in. And my selections I’ve chosen to tell you of still may be familiar but gosh darnit they are worth it. I guess they make a name for themselves for a reason. But I guess I should offer a disclaimer about Burgundy. Thing is, there is lot of meh Bourgogne. Like even Jadot (whose Premier and Grand Crus are fabulous) basic Bourgogne Pinot Noir is fine, and I’ll even gold-star it for tasting obviously Pinot-like, but it is just…it could use nuance and personality. Joseph Faiveley also makes a good basic level Burg, but it verges on earthy without enough elegance. So my thing with Burgundy is go big-ish or go home. Go at least go Village level, my dolls. Burgundy north to south, what a grape journey we could take. Is it the most important wine region in the world? It can certainly be the most expensive. We are also going to look to the Loire Valley for French Pinot Noir! Sancerre reds are Pinots, and can be splendid albeit I am sharing another revelatory Central Valley offering. First, for the Burgundy picks! I had the pleasure of working with someone who sold almost nothing but, and still some of the finest ones I have tasted came from him. But I tried boodles more before picking favorites. I’m starting south of the famed Cote d’Or. I have a memorable 1er cru from the Côte Chalonnaise’s Givry. I enjoyed it with former Delectable worker Bryce Wiatrak as we discussed me becoming a writer at Delectable. So I am so very emotionally connected to it, as Delectable has allowed me to chase many a wine flight of fancy and do it all in my own voice. Let’s revisit: 2014 Domaine Pagnotta Les Champs Lalots Givry 1er Cru Borders on tasting like Gamay, and don’t ya know, I love Gamay. This had the pastille—aka violet and anise flavor—I am so very into. Balanced and a good buy. Remaining in the Côte Chalonnaise : 2017 Domaine Faiveley Mercurey Premier Cru Clos des Myglands My but that is exuberant! Coming from the just-south-of-Côte-d’Or, a Côte Chalonnaise, that makes sense. Vivacious, spicy, sassy, this wine has balls and spike heels to hurt anyone who forgets that. Party wine. Now we will go north to the Côte d’Or ! 2014 Joseph Drouhin Chambolle Musigny A village level TREAT I tell you. 2014 in Burgundy was excellent for Drouhin’s style: not bombastic, the wines quietly state their case and wait for you to realize they are right. Hits of red cherries and raspberry coulis rock the senses, and the earth they were growing in keeps a backbeat. There is a violet growing in that earth at this metaphorical concert. On the palate it is more of the red fruits and violets, but with a resounding earthy crunch. And now we go further north! Up to the Loire Valley where I found a wine I was madly in love with. 2017 Domaine Pellé “Morogues” Menetou-Salon Oh I love that. It has a colt-ish spirit, lean and long but frisky. The nose says it has many an herb, come hither! Was there some stem inclusion on this love? With (duh) cherry notes but also pomegranate. Methinks. So bright and cola-vibed in the mouth. I think I f*#king love this wine. Get it. Drink it. Drink it up. Closing thoughts. France remains the holy grail of Pinot Noir, for me. But damn that grail is pricy. But I’m still giving it top honors. But in all honesty, if you are gonna go Burg, you gotta go big. But sometimes…bigger is better. In Bourgogne. I’m sorry. I’m still a baby in the wine world; I know I have a lot to learn, but that is currently where I stand. But how does that stack up against the New World? Well. In terms of THE BEST wines I have had…why do I do this to myself? If I had to pick a region that I was devoted to but wouldn’t necessarily need get the top pricy bottlings of, last week I mentioned going Anderson Valley. Do I need to pick a winner? I guess that is the point of these columns. But…hmm maybe I have picked a winner and I just want to challenge you to try all the regions and make up your own mind! Know that my winner is either top Burgundy. Or Anderson Valley. I’m leaving you to utilize your quarantine time to come to your own conclusion this month! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Want to read more from Ellen? Check out her recent articles: Old World vs. New World: Pinot Noir Part One Quaran-wine Pastimes It's Okay to Like Pinotage Fast Food Slow Wine: THE Taco Bell Oscars Gold Wine Old World vs. New World Round Nine: Chardonnay! You can also listen to Ellen's podcast with Shaughn Buchholz, The Wine Situation here . Check out her recent transcripts of the Final Five questions: Wine Situation Final Five! With Punam Patel Wine Situation Final Five! With Ronnie Pessin

Weingut Hexamer

Weissherbst Spätburgunder 2017

YAS yas YAS...yas super cool blanc de noir. These are delayed notes but this was last night’s quaranwine. Savory as can be and spicy yet also thick. Not actually but it’s like a suit that breathes well. Fun stuff. — 4 years ago

Daniel, Severn and 18 others liked this

G.D. Vajra

PN Q497 Langhe Rosso Pinot Noir 2010

Yes, yes we did open a ten year old bottle in honor of my friend’s cat Caesar’s birthday. Because he’s worth it. And so is this Pinot Noir that drinks like a Nebbiolo from Valtellina but nah, that’s just some over-497-meter Pinot planting. Attitude. But soft. So very much like the birthday boy. — 4 years ago

Eric, Severn and 18 others liked this
Severn Goodwin

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Yum, cattie food.
Ellen Clifford

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Heh, fortunately the wine didn’t have notes of kibble...


Happy birthday Caesar!🐱💙 Nice photo!🍷

Domaine Pagnotta

Les Champs Lalots Givry 1er Cru Pinot Noir 2014

Very tasty. Quite balanced. Very much enjoyed over asparagus with @Bryce Wiatrak at Oriel. Almost mistakable for a delicious pastille-rich gamay hint not a bad thing I love gamay. Totally sippable and pleasant and dang! If you are doing Oriel do a bottle. I’m on a mission to get more folks into bottles. Wine is infinitely more fun shared! — 6 years ago

"Odedi", Daniel and 12 others liked this

Domaine Faiveley (Joseph Faiveley)

Clos des Myglands Mercurey 1er Cru Pinot Noir 2017

Quaranwine if the day. Looks like I may have been exposed so expect ever so many quaranwines. Ps I feel great but I am doing my part and chilling indoors next two weeks. If I don’t die from lack of hugs, I shall live to drink more more more Burgundy. Especially the sometimes overlooked Cote Chalonnaise. This is ever so exuberant. It just leaps out of the glass at you. Or maybe I’m projecting how I’m gonna be in a coupe weeks. Anyway. Ripe frisky fruits, spice, sass, with this one odd footnote that says raspberry vinegar and herbs. Keeping us thoroughly en France. — 4 years ago

Eric, Neil and 37 others liked this
Ellen Clifford

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@Jason Keefer oooh is there a sale there now?
Jason Keefer

Jason Keefer

@Ellen Clifford about a month and a half ago they had a burgundy sale and that was one of the ones I picked up. I just assumed that is where you got it!
Ellen Clifford

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@Jason Keefer ah, no, wish I’d caught it!


Rotwein Trocken Spätburgunder 2016

Quite fabulous! Earthy and also friendly. Not overly complex but has a depth to it. Could be both serious and chuggable. Cherries, cola, herbs and dirt. Refreshing red! — 4 years ago

Eric, Ron and 19 others liked this

Domaine Henry Pellé

Morogues Menetou-Salon Pinot Noir 2017

Yay yay yes yes yes. SO much herb and green but also piercingly sweetest fruit. It’s like food that’s good for you AND tastes good, this is health coursing through my veins. — 4 years ago

Tree, Daniel P. and 19 others liked this
Severn Goodwin

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Yes, great stuff!!
Ellen Clifford

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@Severn Goodwin yes! I was surprised how much I liked it!


Poggio Della Buttinera Pinot Nero Riserva 2016

Bring in that lovely Lombardy Pinot Nero! — 4 years ago

Eric, Paul and 10 others liked this

Joseph Drouhin

Chambolle-Musigny Pinot Noir 2014

It smells crunchy and it’s got oodles of dirt but you will be shielded from excess earth by abounding berries and cherries. And pretty lil flowers. I could smell this all day. And drink all night. Because I try not to drink until dark. 2014 vintage made a sleek vintage totes ready to jump into now. As I am doing. Apologies for using the term “totes”. It just felt apropos. — 5 years ago

Trixie, Isaac and 11 others liked this