Pinot Noir: Battle Royale

by Abigail

What Makes Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir?
Pinot noir is not a grape to be messed with. It is notoriously difficult to grow, with it being nicknamed the heartbreak grape. It’s thin-skins burn easily in hot temperatures, and are too delicate in cold areas, so there are only a few areas where it thrives. The epicentre of Pinot Noir is Burgundy. Burgundy is located in central-eastern France, where is a mild continental climate, making ita suitable area for Pinot Noir. Another reason why Pinot Noir does so well there is because of the terroir. Millions of years ago, Burgundy was part of a vast, tropical sea, which in time created limestone soils famous in the region. Because of this geological makeup, Burgundian Pinot Noirs develop some zesty minerality that makes them irresistible.

Burgundian wines are the heart and soul of Pinot Noir or have been previously, but because of rising prices, people have started to look elsewhere for their pinots. But what other regions could compete with the OG Burgundy? That’s where this tasting comes in.
In this tasting, we explored Pinot Noirs from other regions, and if they could stand up to Burgundy. Given the restrictions of the tasting, we didn’t get to explore every region we wanted, but we chose wines that would best represent the main opposing regions; New Zealand, Australia, British Columbia, Oregon, and California.

The Wines

Marie Courtin Resonance Extra Brut
Dominique Moreau took over a small vineyard of mostly 40 to 50-year-old Pinot Noir, with a vision of producing single-vineyard, single varietal, single vintage Champagnes from biodynamically grown grapes- farmed with meticulous care, and vinified au naturel. Brut Resonance is 100% Pinot Noir. It is a brilliant, energetic wine endowed with gorgeous richness and depth. Succulent apricots, peaches, flowers, and crushed rocks are some of the many nuances that take shape in the glass. Chalky notes linger on the precise, beautifully articulated, eternal finish. The winery is named after Moreau’s grandmother, Marie Courtin. $81.99

Torlesse Pinot Noir
New Zealand produces some of the world’s best Pinot Noir. Torlesse has sourced grapes from vineyards in the Waipara and Canterbury regions to produce the character of this rich and complex red wine. It has delicious sweet berry fruit and spicy oak aromas. Pinot Noir likes cool climates so it’s settled in very nicely here. Very well priced and a great choice for those who like a lighter style red. Delicious sweet berry fruit and spicy oak aromas make this one a staff favourite. Pinot pairs quite nicely with grilled salmon, pork or chicken kabobs, and of course cheese. $25.99

Labruyère Prieur Bourgogne Pinot Noir
Since 1868, Domaine Jacques Prieur has created one of the rarest mosaics of terroirs in Burgundy. Today it is probably the only estate owning vineyards on the greatest appellations both of Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits: Chambertin, Musigny, Clos Vougeot, Echézeaux, Corton, Meursault or Montrachet. This amazing collection is completed by other prestigious appellations and 3 Clos Monopoles. $45.99

Displays a concentrated dark ruby core and shimmers on the rim with pink-light garnet hues. The explosive nose is a rich combination of perfume and fruit, launching off with freshly picked wild berries, red cherry, red plum, strawberry, dried orange, rose petal, forest floor, crushed stone, and black tea leaf. On the palate, the wine is sensuous and has a structure that belies the “Bourgogne” designation on the label. It is a classic, juicy red Burgundy that has smooth tannins and a healthy polish of silky fruit; reminiscent of a Premier Cru. Pair with Boeuf Bourguignon.

Irrewarra Pinot Noir
Irrewarra (an Aboriginal word meaning Long spear throw) is located in the heart of the Western District Farming country, approximately 150 kilometres south-west of Melbourne. Think dairy, beef, sheep, wheat, hay and forestry production. Irrewarra is surrounded by inland lakes and volcanic plains. It is a diverse and beautiful landscape that relies on a high amount of natural rainfall throughout the year. The Western plains are quite exposed to the elements which contribute to the vineyard sites mystic. Their wines are built around the seasons in which they are grown, the sense of place, and an expression of emotion. Their Pinot Noir is loaded with sweet and sour cherries, earth, spice, and a lovely elegant structure. $69.99

Foxtrot Pinot Noir Erickson Vineyard
A lovely ruby hue…(and) aromas of leather, strawberry, and raspberry. The raspberry and strawberry continue on the palate with notes of licorice, rhubarb, tea leaf, and a certain classic Pinot earthiness. The wine has velvety smooth tannins with a medium body and a long finish. Ultra-premium Pinot Noir from a small, family-owned winery on BC’s famous Naramata Bench, and a very rare opportunity to try a wine made with grapes from the Erickson vineyard, which has since been renamed. $44.99

Bethel Heights Justice Vineyard Pinot Noir
Marrying volcanic topsoil with the ancient sea-floor beneath, our Justice Vineyard tells a captivating tale of two soils. The result is a taut, vibrating structure enveloped in ample, dark flesh. A wine that was decanted an hour before serving, it was reserved, yet expressive and was one of the favourites of the evening. $101.99

Hansel North Slope Pinot Noir
This begins four feet from the end of the South slope and continues to slope to the North. It is 100% French clone 115. The close proximity to the South slope does not influence these flavors as clone 115 exhibits the most fruit-driven flavors and appears more “New World” than French. Another favourite for the evening! $65.99

DuMol Russian River Pinot Noir
Beautifully fragrant, aromatic Pinot: cranberry, pomegranate, fresh raspberry, and classic black cherry. Licorice, rose petal, thyme and graphite complexity, freshly-turned earth. Sweet fruit entry, broad rich and tactile but remains lively and supple. Rhubarb compote, darker cassis, baked plum — deeply layered intensity. Subtle red-apple-skin tannins and lingering anise perfume. Persistent resonating finish. The favourite of the evening! $104.99

This tasting was a fun adventure into the world of Pinot, but because it was a brisk -30 outside, I feel that we may have to hist a similar tasting in the summer to see if the results would differ.
The wine from the Russian River Valley were the winners, with DuMol being the number 1, and the Walter Hansel being a close second. These wines were the bolder, riper style of wines presented, but still had nuances of a Burgundian style.

Thank you to everyone who attended the event, and a big thank you to Peasant Cheese for the beautiful cheese and charcuterie boards!

- Abigail Pavka
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