Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pinot Noir: California vs. Burgundy


VERY fine NYT piece today on a new trend in california pinots: a backing away from the power of the fruit bomb that has defined the regional style and toward the finesse and elegance of a burgundian style pinot. 

eric asimov, who wrote the story, here, is one of my favorite chroniclers of the vine, and he has the perfect blog voice -- he's a serious but somehow casual drinker, and there is no bs class association to his assessment of wine. (the fact that his uncle all but taught me to read with his wonderful books on science and sundry "facts" only makes me feel warmer to this dude i have never met.)

anyone who has spent time with me in the warmer months knows there are few things i like better -- especially if we are eating salmon, duck, mushroom dishes, some kinds of steak -- than pinot. my original love of pinot came from heavy, fruity california varieties from sideways country -- melville, au bon climate, sanford -- but my taste has since moved to more elegant versions. some oregon pinots -- the hard-to-find cristom -- and new zealand's peregrine hit the sweet spot for me. (i recently had a beaune burgundy at palate food + wine that blew me away.) 

so i was glad to see this development asimov chronicles. he speaks to jim clendenen of au bon climate as well as the guy behind arcadia, which may be the finest american pinot i know. (the latest vintage currently sitting on the shelves at colorado wine co.)

LET ME ALSO URGE ALL READERS OF THIS POST TO VOTE IN MY WINE POLL, DOWN THE RIGHT MARGIN. LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD!!

Photo credit: NYT

6 comments:

Amanda said...

I know my love of fruity, candy like Cali wines is immature, but surely I can be forgiven as I am mightily mature in every other way.

Scott Timberg said...

let me be clear: despite my slightly more austere tastes, i am very happy to have a melville terraces pinot in my cave!!

Sam said...

Alright, As I have been out tasting wine far to long today I have a lot to say on many subjects that you have brought to my attention in this post and feel the need to focus my response. First, I do not agree with your assessment of Asimov, in fact I think he is on the wrong side of pompus i general and his article on South African wine the day after Obama's inauguration was verging on patronizing (almost as if he single handedly found out about this region), however, the press was amazing. I will leave this out of my further assessment. I do, however, at this point in my wine drinking life have a favorite wine, the wine that I tell my friends is the best I have ever had: the 1998 Pisoni Pinot Noir. Made by Gary Pisoni, purportedly from clipping of Domaine Romani Conti La Tache or Richebourg vineyards, (snuck back into the country in Pisoni's britches) it was at absolute prime the day I opened in back in December 2008(http://doubledecanted.blogspot.com/2008/12/fifteen-rounds-with-apollo-greed-or.html - great blog from my friend about the evening)I have one bottle left and from that single amazing bottle I already opened I understand why people collect more bottles than they can drink in a lifetime. I never want to have the last sip of this wine.

Also, I didn't vote, I cannot answer your poll without a time of the year given... I am all whites and roses in summer, transition through fall with pinot, big reds in the winter, transition through pinots again in the spring, and back to whites and roses...

In the end, I am very happy to see Cali restraining their wines - oak hides the beauty of the fruit. I love a wine which speaks of terroir and oak mutes that - so all in all I prefer new world prices with old world stylings.

Scott Timberg said...

i have heard great things about the pisoni tho have never had the pleasure.... it's from the santa lucia highlands, which may have the highest batting average of any region i know... monterey co. doesnt make as much wine as the major california regions, but somehow i've liked all i've had.

new world prices with old world style -- i like the sound of that. tho i should mention, when i go looking for value wines, i usually find them in the old world: spain, southern italy, southwest france... most of calif has gotten so bloody expensive...

Glenn Gaslin... said...

you are going to have to school me in pinot. i've never been a fan, and maybe that's i'm dumb or only drink the cheap stuff.

Scott Timberg said...

pinot is hard to get into cheaply.... but it is a wonderful wine (in addition to all the sideways stuff about being temperamental, difficult etc.). and in so cal we are near a lot of great ones.

two off the top of my head that are affordable and quite lovely are stephen vincent from sonoma coast (last seen at both colorado wine and silverlake) and monterey's san simeon (colorado.)

if you are convince-able, these will convince you for $15 or under each.