When you say Pinot Noir – it sounds so nobles. It is also (in most cases) fine, nobles wine. It took me few years, after being impressed with all those power houses, to find my humble way to appreciate the finesse of this unique grape variety.
Pinot is some of the most difficult varieties to cultivate and transform into fine wine. This wine is truly hard to deal with. Compare to other grape varieties, Pinot Noir grapes are sensitive to almost everything.
Vines are sensitive to unstable weather, frost can kill it, it doesn’t like the wind, the certain soil, and it must be kept low yielding, in order to produce any quality wines. Back in the winery, it is still sensitive to a certain fermentation methods, it might not like the kind of yeast you used and being highly reflective of its terroir – the different regions can produce completely different wines. In other words, this wine is demanding plenty of hard labor.
Pinot Noir’s thin skin also makes it easier for a number of different diseases, such as mildew, bunch rot or infection by leaf roll, to attack. All these “prospective problems” that winemaker has to deal with, makes a production of a fine Pinot Noir a very risky business. It is a challenge, literally.
All these risky factors also drive the prices of the final product up. Therefore, when I come across cheap Pinot Noir, I am more than suspicious. Unless it comes from Burgundy. There, in the origin of this noble black grape, I am willing to take a chance with an unknown wine. Simply because those French just know what they are doing.
So, I grabbed the bottle of 2011 D’Autrefois Pinot Noir without hesitation. Simply because I know that Pinot Noir from Burgundy tastes like Pinot Noir supposed to taste. And this one wasn’t different. Although, it only costs $10.99. Seriously. Yet it didn’t lack any quality of the true Pinot Noir – light – to medium body, delicate, a delicious crisp cherry undertone in the taste, great freshness and acidity. An excellent match to my seared salmon and sauteed spinach.
It might be tough for some, who believe that Pinot Noir wines are fruity and full body. Very much like Beaujolais that is sometimes confused for Pinot Noir. Intentionally or not. Seriously, I had people asking me: “Just show me your biggest, fruitiest Pinot Noir.” Ouch. What do you say, when “customer is always right”. No, these wines are none of the above. They are supposed to be “thin” as one of my customers once referred to a Pinot Noir I showed him, with an open disappointment.
But back to D’Autrefois Pinot Noir 2011. Seriously. If you want a gem, and know what Pinot Noir is all about, this is an incredible deal. I just loved it and will buy it again.
“Adored by critics, prized by collectors, Pinot Noir is one of most tantalizing yet temperamental varietals in the world. For many wine enthusiasts, this is part of the appeal of Pinot — it doesn’t reveal its charms easily. Pinot Noir’s virtue also stems from the unique characteristics of the grape. The skins are especially delicate, which accounts for the lighter color and body of finished wine. But, despite the delicacy, the best wines have excellent backbone and length, providing aromatic intensity unlike any other grape.…” as the subscription of variety on the Wine access website accurately said. Cheers to that!