jamie goode's wine blog: The world's best Pinot Noirs

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The world's best Pinot Noirs

When I was first getting into wine, the line with Pinot Noir was that it was a tricky grape that didn't really perform outside Burgundy.

Relearn. That's just not true anymore. Aside from the top producers and the best vineyards, Pinot Noir doesn't perform all that well in Burgundy. And now other countries are getting much more consistent results.

My desert island Pinot Noirs are the famed wines of Burgundy. But I can't really afford them, and buying affordable red Burgundy is generally an unrewarding business. My rankings of the best Pinot Noir producing regions now reads more like this:

= 1. New Zealand (Waipara, Wairarapa, Central Otago, Marlborough)
=1. Oregon
3. Burgundy

Today's wine has been an incredibly elegant Kiwi Pinot Noir, and the dregs of yesterday's De Bortoli. The Kiwi Pinot is the best I've yet tried from Marlborough.

Koru Pinot Noir 2007 Marlboroughy, New Zealand
From a single 1.1 hectare vineyard, just 311 cases were made. This is special. Beautifully smooth, pure, complex, elegant nose of dark cherry and plum fruit, with some deeper spice and herb notes. The palate is concentrated and intense with lovely rich cherry fruit, but its trademark is that it is just so elegant, with a wonderful minerality and smooth, silky texture. Brilliant effort, although it is, sadly, rather expensive. 93/100 (£34 Hellion Wines)

see also: my note on the Koru Sauvignon Blanc 2007

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At 5:46 AM, Blogger ned said...

"Aside from the top producers and the best vineyards, Pinot Noir doesn't perform all that well in Burgundy."

I would have to say, that depends on your expectations.
Don't blame the grape.

IMO there are DOZENS of good producers these days.
Many more than 25 years ago. Reality in Burgundy is far ahead of conventional perceptions.

At 8:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aside from the top producers and the best vineyards, Pinot Noir doesn't perform all that well in Burgundy.

Jamie, why do you pepper your blog with pointless trolls like this?

We're after genuine insight, not attention-grabbing tosh.

We'll probably get the Clarkson-esque "Burgundy sucks" any day now...

At 9:37 AM, Blogger Nick Oakley said...

Could not agree more with Jamie, it is a real struggle (or has been for me) to find consistently good, affordable red Burgundy. Go to Martinborough in NZ, and you find reliably good pinot that you have CONFIDENCE to pay good money for. Some other areas are also doing wonders with pinot - Assmanhausen on the Rhine being a great example

At 9:45 AM, Anonymous Irving said...

Jamie, how do you perceive the differences in style amoung the NZ pinots you mentioned, Waipara, Wairarapa, Central Otago, Marlborough

At 9:49 AM, Blogger Nick Oakley said...

Irving -how about this....
Martinborough (Wairarapa) - silky, elegant
Otago -more 'beef'
Marlborough -lightest of the three. Consistent, fine, some elegance, but not in the Martinborough league.

Sweeping generalisations, I know, but broadly true.

At 2:20 PM, Blogger Barry said...

Jamie...one you forgot..
and maybe I should be happy..cos I get to drink them all...
my blog is full of them as well..
they are still the worst-kept secret...
German Pinot Noir Spätburgunder)..wonderful..and
comparable to anywhere in the world.

At 4:07 PM, Anonymous Keith Prothero said...

been drinking today Jamie a bottle of Chauvenet NSG Les Damodes 1998 which I bought in a sale for less than £5.
OK this was an incredible bargain but even at its normal price of about £20 I bet it would beat any Kiwi pinot you care to put against it in the same price range.

At 10:36 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Irving - good question

Nick's answer is pretty good.

They're all different - probably Marlborough is the easiest to spot, I reckon. Cherries and plums; bright and fruity.

The two best? Wairarapa and Waipara. Different regions a reasonable distance apart, but similar in that they can combine sweet fruit with elegance. Quite complete wines.

Central Otago pretty consistent but usually more intensity and richness - delicious, but beefier. Sometimes maybe a bit of beetroot, too.

At 10:37 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Ned, not blaming the grape, and agree that there are loads of good producers - but still too many underperformers, who manage to get good prices for their wines. Quite a lot of brett in some cases, which just doesn't work with PN.

At 10:38 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Barry - god point - I've written about them here a bit, but we see so little of them.

Keith, crazy bargain. How on earth did you find this?

At 9:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I can't afford the best stuff, I find that I tend to enjoy a good £20 village wine or maybe a 1er cru from a lesser village far more than anything I've had from NZ. For me NZ Pinot simply is not as interesting, full stop.

At 11:07 AM, Anonymous Keith Prothero said...

Jamie the wine was in a Bordeaux Index sale a few months ago.
There were a number of other brilliant buys but I contented myself with a case of the 96 and 98 Chauvenet Les Damodes for £107 in total!!
Maybe I shall slip a bottle into the Mullineux samples when I get round to delivering them!!

At 5:53 PM, Blogger Nick Oakley said...

Having just spent a day judging at the International Wine Challenge, I may have finally seen the light on red Burgundy. Our first flight of wines this morning we enjoyed a delightful Chambolle Musigny and a Gevrey Chambertin. Of course we are not told the producer's names, just the appellation, but these two were seriously fine stuff. Both 2007 vintage they had this exquisite sour earth/composty nose (sounds dreadful, but isn't) and such finesse and length it blew me away. I medalled both of them.
We finished the day with some great sweet wines -mostly rielings from the Mosel, plus two or three Chenin blanc wines from the Loire which were just sublime. A great opportunity to taste a fantastic range of wine, and interesting to note that we did not have a single wine fault all day (if you discount some 'bretty' examples. The flight of wine which seriously disappointed - Bordeaux. Dry, lacking fruit, unbalanced, and uninspiring -enough to make a grown man weep

At 7:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

people: not sure if you deliberately left this region out or not - but the Russian River region in Northern California has surpassed Burgundy & Oregon PN in terrior, climate and wine quality long ago - since the 1980's. Where have you been?


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