Sunday, September 11, 2011

Wines I'm Drinking: Three Inexpensive Pinot Noirs

They say you get what you pay for. While that's certainly not always true in the case of wine, it seems to be most nearly true when it comes to Pinot Noir. It really is hard to find good, inexpensive Pinot Noir, but that doesn't keep me from trying. Yesterday I sampled three inexpensive Pinots from my local Grocery Outlet, two from New Zealand and one from Germany. I was especially interested in the German wine as Pinot Noir is not much grown there.

I tasted the 2008 New Harbor Vineyards Marlborough Pinot Noir, the 2008 Sacred Hill Central Otago Pinot Noir, and the F. W. Langguth "Black Slate" Pinot Noir. I couldn't find a vintage on the German wine, which may mean that it involves a blend of grapes from different years or simply that it's poorly labeled. The wine is from the Rheinhessen and only 90% Pinot Noir (something I failed to notice when I bought the wine). It is 10% Regent--a grape variety I had never heard of, and one that goes without mention in Jancis Robinson's Vines, Grapes and Wines (Mitchell Beazley, 1986)--the first time I've not been able to find grape information in that book--but Regent appears to be a newcomer. According to the Wikipedia article on the variety, Regent is a hybrid created in the late 1960s at the Geilweilerhof Institute for Grape Breeding. According to the Institute's website, Regent is a cross between Diana (itself Silvaner x Müller-Thurgau) and Chambourcin). Appreciated in large part for its resistance to fungal diseases, it appears to have entered general cultivation in the mid-1990s. Regent is planted mostly in Germany and the UK. It seems to make decent single-variety wine in some parts of Germany, but I don't understand exactly what it was intended to add to this blend--perhaps color, as several German web pages I looked at emphasize the good color Regent achieves, and many winemakers seem to think their Pinot Noir won't sell if it's too pale in color. In California, a little Syrah is often added to Pinot Noir to boost the color--and often to the detriment of the distinctive Pinot Noir flavor. Brief tasting notes follow.

2008 New Harbor Vineyards Marlborough Pinot Noir
A fairly typical, pale, Pinot Noir sort of color. Closed nose, but hints of leather, orange water, and red raspberries. There was a suggestion of cloves as well. Moderate acid on the palate. Light tannins. Not badly balanced, but rather simple. Moderate to good length. Doesn't really evolve in any way on the palate. Perfectly acceptable everyday wine--I've had much, much worse cheap Pinot Noir--but this offers no special attraction either. Reasonably priced at $4.99, but I won't be going back for more. That said, this was the best of the three wines I tasted.

2008 Sacred Hill Central Otago Pinot Noir
Pale, slightly garnet-tinged, typical Pinot Noir color. Slightly deeper in color than the above wine. Citrus and leather on the nose. Initially appealing on the palate but quickly begins to seem too sweet. Smooth--rather too smooth. There is little acid to balance the sweetness and very little tannin either. Very long finish, but a finish without nuance--just a lingering nondescript fruity sweetness. Flavors tend toward cherries. Not unpleasant. Essentially, just boring. Priced at $5.99 a bottle.

F. W. Langguth "Black Slate" Rheinhessen Pinot Noir
A pale tea color--red tending toward brown. Some floral notes on the nose. Marmalade. Bubble gum. On the palate gives an initial impression of sweetness with fairly low acid. Shortish on the finish but with some lingering sweetness with vaguely port-like flavors. Not really recognizable as Pinot Noir. Has some odd flavors that suggest plastic--although the wine is not as bad as that may make it sound. Drinkable, but not very attractive or interesting--beyond the interest provided by an opportunity to experience Regent (see above). That said, I'd prefer to try a 100% Regent wine for that purpose. Priced at $3.99 a bottle.

I have no financial connection with any producer or retailer of wine. 

For more wine reviews, use the Wines I'm Drinking label.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails