Pinot Noir from Afar 01/26/11
To date I’ve talked about a couple of Pinot Noirs, yet so far they’ve all come not only from the United States, but from my own vinographically obscure corner thereof: Southeastern Pennsylvania. I’ve also been more than happy with the results, even though Oregon is generally lauded as the best place in the country for Pinot. But in much the same way as you’d look to Georgia for peaches, Idaho for potatoes or Utah for religious persecution, if you’re really serious about your Pinot Noir – like the French, or Paul Giamatti – you’re eventually going to want to pick up a Burgundy.
Pinot Noir is the only varietal permitted for use in red Burgundy, and some of the most refined and sophisticated wines in the world come from the region. Or so I’ve heard, anyway: the best of the best – Grand cru Burgundies – are usually too expensive for mere mortals. Even the lamer Premier cru wines have thus far eluded me. Today I’ll be discussing the Louis Latour 2007 Volnay, from Beaune, which Wikipedia tells me is the wine capital of Burgundy. At $29 (but retailing for $41) this won me over because I, idiot that I am, mistook the phrase “Grand Vin de Bourgogne” for a Grand cru designation and figured $28 was too good a deal to pass up. D’oh.
So no, this wasn’t a Grand cru or even Premier cru, but it was still by far the priciest Burgundy I’ve had so far, and actually (I just found out) earned 89 points in Wine Spectator, which is definitely pretty legit. In the glass it poured a semi-clear, dark garnet, showing slight signs of age around the edges. Redcurrant and wild cherry seized me by the nose, with a third note soon joining the fray that made me think rhubarb despite my never having tasted it outside of a pie (and with strawberries). Make of that what you will.
The wine was dry on the palate, with expanding fruit flavors and a long finish of raspberry and woody spice. Light-bodied for a red (as is often the case with Pinot Noir), it was easy to drink and well-balanced. I don’t have any specific complaints, but this wine didn’t exactly blow me away. I’m somewhat aghast to say that I prefer both Crossing’s and Sand Castle’s Pennsylvania-style Pinot, with their strong floral undertones.
I award the Louis Latour 2007 Volnay thumbs up. Maybe I’m just a dumb hick after all – or maybe my palate is just so advanced that only the upper crus could possibly satisfy it.
Yeah, let’s go with that.