4 Wines & A Plate – Pinot Noir

Kevin4 Wines and A Plate, WineLeave a Comment

Stangely, film created a significant pinot noir fad and a merlot sag in the wine market a few years back. In hindsight, it doesn’t seem to make much sense – although I suppose neither holywood nor fads do. My take on pinot noir is that most people aren’t big fans when it boils right down to it. It is a minority when asked ‘favorite varietal?’ that chime in with ‘pinot noir’. It’s not a heavy fruit-bomb, it often brings some funk, and cheap pinot noir tends to be far-less-good than say, cheap shiraz. It often takes some digging, as it is more subtle overall, and I’m pretty sure the masses aren’t into digging for nuance. A good showing of wines with a high average group score, more new world than old, with some surprising results:


A: 2007 Cono Sur Pinot Noir

$11.99 Rapel Valley, Chile

Group Score: 81

Fermenting yeastynes, stinky, vegetal compost-esque, flat, and the winner: freshly ironed 35% flax pants bought on ebay. The palate was a little plain, and quite boozy, with okay fruit, and a little apple. 75

B: 2005 Steele Carneros Pinot Noir

$29.99 CaliforniaLake County, United States

Group Score: 94

Yeah, you read that right: 94 group score. Crazy. Obviously there’s some broad appeal in this bottle. It also wins for best-wine/ugliest label award. Raspberry dessert, smoke, black forest cake, and leather on the nose. The palate is shockingly supple with a lovely mouthfeel, and a long finish. 93

C: 2006 Rippon Lake Wanaka Pinot Noir

$54.99 Central Otago, New Zealand

Group Score: 89

Strawberry jam-fest on the nose. I loved this one instantly. Light in style, it’s a breakfast wine of strawberry jam on buttered toast. Lovely, simple, tart finish, but a tad watery in texture. My style of wine. 92 The Wine Advocate scored it 95.

D: 2005 Paul Garaudet Monthelie Premier Cru Le Meix Bataille

$44.99 BurgundyCôte de Beaune, France

Group Score: 78

I come leaping to this wine’s defence. Partly because I like the terroir and producer, and mostly because I had forgotten what the winemaker had told me. My brother and I had tasted there, and as he poured some 2005 vintage – a blockbuster in Burgundy – he warned us: ‘c’est comme les femmes – il faut de la patience’. It’s like women – requires patience. This wine was young, and the tannins and structure that put people off will be very different in 5-10 years. Old man, dusty clothes, leather on the nose – and was by far the most tannic, dry, and boldly structured. I scored it 87+ but figure in a few years this will be more in the 90 range, give or take a couple points.


Salmon. We’d paired pinot noir with duck in the past, so it was time for salmon. Belly sashimi with fleur de sel + a few pieces with soy. Pork and beans: or more specifically, sautéed lardons from a fresh batch of bacon with green bush and pole beans. Lastly – charcoal grilled slab of salmon topped with mashed baby leeks. The soy didn’t work with the wine, no matter how ethereal it is. Neither did the sashimi in general. Too light. The bacon was a solid pairing, and the grilled salmon was very nice with the wines. Any jump-out-synergies from the food-wine-pairing perspective? Not really. Maybe: bacon. But bacon’s good with everything – even pinot noir.

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