Pinot Noir – Pleasing but petulant. Tasting Panel Results

The Sommelier India Tasting Panel recently assessed Pinot Noir wines available in India from around the world. The wines were tasted blind on two separate occasions and rated out of 20 taking the average of panelists individual scores.

Pinot Noir is a temperamental grape variety. Even in its native Burgundy, it can be reluctant to show its true quality and it’s difficult to extract the elegant, silky flavours that are its hallmark. Pinot Noir can be grown and made into wine only in cool climate regions, which is why it is grown in smaller quantities than other varieties and is often expensive. Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay have adapted with remarkable ease to a variety of climates and terrains, but not Pinot Noir. It sulks, responding badly to warmer climates, not to mention ill-judged vinification techniques. But at its best, it produces some of the finest red wine in the world. In Burgundy, almost all red wine is made from Pinot Noir, with the exception of Beaujolais. It is also an important component of most Champagnes.

2013 Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir, New Zealand
Bright ruby hue, hints of ageing. Dark and dense fruits, hint smoke, dark cherries, berries, currants. Hint warm spice, and surprising yeasty character. ageing has opened the way for mushrooms and savouriness. oaky and dusty finish. approachable and very drinkable. Score: 17.6. Importer: LVMH – Rs. 5,400

2016 Folonari Pinot Noir, Tuscany, Italy
Fruity nose, dominantly ripe red fruits, savoury oak, and a touch of spices. The palate shows concentrated red and dark fruits, warm spices, dried florals, and surprisingly smokey oak. abundant tart acidity, developing savouriness. Mild warm alcohol and abundant earthiness. ripening, chewy tannins add to the body and character of the wine. good balance of elements, but nothing fancy. pleasant finish. Definitely shows a different but likable character. Shows promise to age. Score: 17.3. Importer: Ace Beverages – price: Rs. N/A

2016 Le Grand Pinot Noir, Southern France, France
A tad closed on the nose shows only savouriness. BooM, opens with abundant liveliness and youth, on the palate. Fruity, refreshing acidity, dark cherries, cranberries, red currants, plums, sweet oak, developing savouriness, and plush aging tannins. Well balanced with simplicity in its elements, long finish. Very amicable and likeable. Youthful, masculine, but not boisterous. a smart and simple wine, can drink, also be partnered with food. Score: 17.2. Importer: Sula Selections – Rs. 1,550

2016 ConoSur Pinot Noir, Chile
Medium ruby hue. Dusty, coffee, overpowering smoke, and spice. Flat acidity, jammy, hint shrubs, cherries and leather. not very pinot noir-like. Tad disappointing. perhaps just a bad bottle. Score: 17.1. Importer: Sula Selections – Rs. 1,450

2015 Selini Pinot Noir, New Zealand
Bright pale ruby. attractive nose, similar palate. ample berries, cherries, currants; fruity and tangy acidity; supple tannins, balanced acidity. Back palate opens to savoury, forrest floor, earth, shrubs, smoke and touch of sweet spices. Very pleasant wine, can work well with food too. Score: 17. Importer: Prestige Wines & Spirits – Rs. 2,850

2014 Mud House Pinot Noir, New Zealand
Pale ruby, fading rims. good nose with a wide spectrum with tones of fruits, florals, earthy touches, and spice. abundant fruits, juicy palate, caramelised oak; hint animally, tangy acidity, and soft tannins; good body. enjoyable, simple wine. Score: 16.4. importer: Sula Selections – Rs. 3,200

2015 Robert Mondavi Private Selection Pinot Noir, California, USA
A pleasant medium ruby tone. abundant floral, ripe, sweetish tart red fruits. lifted, elegant nose, hint of oak, sweet spices, and earthiness. The wine opens with a charming melange of flavours, supported by juicy, fruity acidity, a mix of round and chewy tannins and oaky sweetness. a well integrated, matured, and appealing palate. Shows varietal character, a touch extra oak suggests place of origin. Bold yet feminine, matured yet holding on to its youthful character. a commendable wine must try. Can stay another couple of years, but, hey, why wait? Score: 16.3. Importer: Lake Forest Wines – Rs. 3,900

2015 Stark Conde Pinot Noir, 
Elgin, South Africa

Pale ruby intensity. plush nose with fresh fruits, lifted with florals, tad jammy, and berries. light body, bright acidity, sweet berries and currants. Hint stalky green, furry and chalky tannins. Subtle oak, ending with stewed fruity nose. elegant structure, very amicable, a delectable wine. Score: 16.3. Importer: Wine Park – Rs. 2,874

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2015 Robert Mondavi Woodbridge Pinot Noir, California, USA
Pale ruby, moving to garnet, indicating aging. pleasant nose, ripe, sweet red fruits, strawberries, cranberries, raspberries, and sweet cherries. Simple, juicy, playful palate with round low tannins and medium balancing acidity. a pleasant mouthful, bursting with sweet ripe ample fruits. Flows easily. Varietal amicable wine. Won’t age further, drink now. Score: 16.2. Importer: Lake Forest Wines – Rs. 2,100

2016 Camas Pinot Noir, Southern France, France
Dark purple hue, indicating a warmer place of origin. opens with a powerful nose, not typical of pinot noir. Darker fruits, chalky tannins, hint stalky greenness, over-extracted fruit and tannins, dark and purple fruits, blueberries, and dark currants, spice, and smoke. low acidity with higher tannins and warmer alcohol. More characteristic of a grenache than a pinot!! Surprisingly different, though not deniable as a pinot noir. Score: 15.9. Importer: Rad Elan – Rs. 1,120

2015 Joseph Drouhin Laforet Pinot Noir, Burgundy, France
Dark hued, ruby colour. Varietal aromas, ripe red fruits, hint oaky, savoury, earthiness, bubblegum from possible Carbonic Maceration, hint shrubby – adding a tone of complexity. a touch over extracted hinted from rough chalky tannins, balancing but flat acidity, and warm alcohol. laden with older oak over warm weathered crop, making it animally, savoury, tobacco toned, and mushroomy, yet has some primary varietal flavours, red berries and currants. a tad rough finish with savoury, sweet, and old oak intermingling notes. Can be drunk now, will show better with food. Score: 15.6. Importer: Prestige Wines & Spirits – Rs. 3,650

2016 P. Ferraud & Fils Bourgogne Pinot Noir, Burgundy, France
Colour between purple and ruby, fading edges. Warm fruits, dark and bitter cherries, plums, hint of dried herbs, shrubs, definite under-ripeness with herbaceous characters, making it an uneven mix. low on sweet fruit intensity, higher savourycharacter with oaky, tart, warm and overripe red and dark fruits. Stalky greenness, old oak, savoury, and stewed fruits on the finish. Can be drunk with canapés and cold cuts. For masculine pinot noir drinkers, but far from lavish. Score: 15.4. Importer: Lake Forest Wines – Rs. 3,000

2011 Durvillea Pinot Noir, New Zealand
Ruby core, highly fading rims, definite signs of ageing Medicinal nose, highly savoury, dusty and earthy tones. looks tad over crushed and over extracted. acidity has gotten tired and flabby. Tannins are granular yet structure, pale. Too old to taste now, must’ve been a great wine but age has had the better of it. Score: 15.4. Importer: Ace Beverages – Rs. 2,700

2015 Albert Bichot Bourgogne Vieilles Vignes de Pinot Noir, Burgundy, France
Darkish hue, browning edges. Shy nose, doesn’t open for a while. ripe palate, jammy fruit, red and dark berries, overlapping layers. Definite signs of ageing with notes of leather, tobacco, savoury, and stalky greenness. Tad over extracted, leading to a bitter finish. Dark fruit acidity. Shows varietal character of a generic Burgundy wine. not for ageing. Score: 15.2. Importer: Aspri Spirits & Wines – Rs. 3,450

2013 Valdivieso Single Valley lot Gran 
Reserva Pinot Noir, Chile
Good, mid-core, fading rims. intense nose with dark spices, smoke, dark berries, and compote. Shows signs of warmer climate fruit, cranberries, dark and red currants, cherries, hint medicinal, shrubby, and jammy. acidity seems a touch flat for the overall structure. light yet good tannins, hint furry, ends with a touch of mushrooms. a smart wine should’ve been drunk by now though. Score: 15.1. Importer: Agnetta International – Rs. 1,600

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