Wine writing by Stas Medvedev

Many faces of Pinot Noir

The objective of this tasting was not to choose the winner, but to learn the difference between the various expressions of Pinot Noir coming from different wine-producing regions.

We started with Burgundy to set the baseline. Generic Bourgogne from Maison Leroy 2015 is a textbook example. Intense aromatics with more black than red berries. It does not have the concentration of the fruit, but has intensity. Bit of spice. Fruit beautifully integrates with silky tannins. Perfect balance, medium body.

2009 Salwey Oberrotweiler Kirchberg Spätburgunder GG served from Magnum showed some age with tawny rim. Wine comes from the noble sunny vineyard in Baden, its fruit is ripe and sweet and already developed tertiary vegetal character. It is a signature high acidity that distinguishes German Spät from others.

We moved further north to Trépail in Montagne de Reims with 2007 David Leclapart Coteaux Champenois. Produced in tiny quantities, this biodynamic wine was full of wild energy and natural character. Full of red berries, sour plum, herbs and pickles with elevated chalky acidity and feather light body. Unusual wine to shake up one’s beliefs of Pinot Noir.

2016 Kistler Sonoma Coast was a classy New World Pinot with warm climate ripe fruit, moderately accentuated oak with baking spices. Pleasantly textural with moderate acidity. Open, friendly wine.

2015 August Kesseler Assmannshäuser Höllenberg Spätburgunder GG. World famous vineyard on a very steep slope above the Rhein with heat-storing and sparse slate soils produce complete wines that can compete with fine 1er Crus in Burgundy. Unlike previous Spät it develops slowly as serious wines should. Graceful wine with complex fruit character, powder texture of tannins and underlying lively acidity. One of the best German Pinots I know.

This comparison suggests that the voice of climate speaks the loudest. Northern regions have dryer finish, distinctive fruit, leaner body. New World Pinot is warmer and more textural. Burgundy remains the benchmark with all the elements in perfect harmony and balance of fruit and savoury notes, moderate acidity and silky tannins.
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