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Nov 3, 2009 08:01 AM

Am I the Only One Who Doesn't Like Pinot Noir?!

Okay, I can enjoy a better than average+ Burg, but New World PN always seems uninteresting, unbalanced, too light, flabby, Kool Aidy, over priced and overhyped. Why does everyone rave about them?

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  1. Gross generalization: I think there is a lot of mediocre to bad pinot out there, especially among new world efforts. However, do you not think the same thing can be said about many wine grapes? Think of all the syrupy Australian shiraz. Or the vanilla-sweet, new world Cabernet Sauvignon. Or insipid butterscotch Chardonnays.

    Having said that, I can think of many new world PN producers who have wowed me: Ken Wright, Domaine Serene, Archery Summit, Domaine Drouhin, and Navarro, just to name a few (must admit I have had much greater exposure to the Oregon producers than I have to California). I also like Amayna PN from Chile.

    The magic for me comes when pairing pinot with the right foods...i.e. recently paired a new world PN with braised duck with green olives topped with duck cracklings. The wine really came alive. I live in the Pacific Northwest and eat a lot of wild salmon. Stating the obvious, but PN and salmon are usually really good together (that is if the salmon is prepared simply).

    But I understand that PN is not everyone's cup of tea. Certainly my wife doesn't rate it among her favourite grape varietals. Que sera, sera.

    1. I think it goes better with food. It's not a drinking wine for me.

      1 Reply
      1. re: linguafood

        "I think it goes better with food. It's not a drinking wine for me."

        I do find that PN is more food-friendly, with a broad brush, than many other varietals. OTOH, I find that many of the definitely New World, CA (think Santa Barbara, Santa Rita, etc.) PN's are great by themselves. Yes, many do not display the traditional characteristics that many associate with the PN grape, and some could be mistaken for Syrah, but we enjoy them - both with the right foods, and alone. For the general food affinities, I do feel that a more Old World style is more universal and has a broader affinity than those bigger, bolder examples.

        Just my personal tastes, though my young wife seems to agree.


      2. You just have not tried the right ones. I have multiple vintages, many different styles from different winemakers. I can have some that you can not tell from classical french burgandy, I have others that are as big as a big Cali PN, and I have everything in between.

        But maybe PN is simply not your thing. I have several folks at parties and tailgaters that are always looking for a white zin, they don't care for PN either.

        15 Replies
        1. re: duck833

          Oh, I've tried the "right ones".

          Williams and Selyem
          Penner Ash
          Domaine Serene
          Patz and Hall
          Sea Smoke
          Iron Horse

          ...and many, many more. I gave them a fair shake. And thanks for the WZ dig.

          1. re: invinotheresverde

            It is all a matter of taste. What you don't like apparently is the CA PNs specifically, and Oregon PNs to a lesser extent. Of course, if your idea of the good PN is a Burg, you will probably be disappointed in a big CA PN, because they are very different in both style and alcohol content.

            Personally, I like the CA PNs, but love a good Burg too. I suggest you might want to try a Radio Coteau Savoy Vineyard PN, but if you just don't like CA PNs, be content with drinking Burgs.

            1. re: dinwiddie

              I've tried RC in the past, although not the Savoy. Maybe I'll give it a whirl.

              I'm not saying they're all terrible: I just don't get the hype. Some which I've tried have been borderline flawed and the sheeple still rave. I agree it's subjective, but to me it's bizarre.

              1. re: invinotheresverde

                No you're not the only one. But then again, new world PN is not the only wine out there that is overhyped and overpriced. You could say the same for Brunellos, Tuscans, Amarones, Champagnes, red and white Burgundies, Bordeaux, Rioja, Priorat, Alsace, and just about every other region or grape. And it's not that bizarre really. The wine world as a whole is fashion. Things get hot and cold, and it all goes in cycles.

                1. re: mengathon

                  I realize that it's all cyclical, but I just have a hard time understanding why people go so crazy over something that is so void of goodness, except, perhaps, in the best bottles.

                  I mean, I'm pretty open WRT wine. Besides White Zin and Pinot
                  Grigio, I'll drink and enjoy almost any varietal. And I'll definitely try anything twice...or more. I'm a seasoned taster. I don't ever like or dislike something because something (Sideways...cough) tells me to.

                  Maybe it's just my region of the World, but all of the other wines you mentioned PALE in sales (both dollars and volume). Almost everyone I know is on the PN train.

                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                    Wine is not cyclical. You're talking about marketing and hype. Burgundy has changed very little since the monks first planted vines there over 1000 years ago.

                    Or maybe you're talking about 1000 year cycles?

                    For hundreds of years, the Bordelais led the world in hype. But they've been blown away by the New World. It's the Emperor's new clothes phenomenon. Lots of hype and not much in the bottle. Why worry about it? I love Burgundy, but never buy new world PN.

                    Don't get me wrong, there are good west coast PNs, just not many and not worth the money. Other people like them, and that's great. It'd be worse if they wanted to buy the wines that I like.

                    1. re: crw77

                      I should've said wine trends are cyclical; things fall in and out of fashion. Obviously, the wines themselves don't change all that much.

                      I'm not "worried" about it; I was more looking for someone to explain their love in PN to me. I'm also glad it leaves more of what I like on the shelves.

                      1. re: crw77

                        It's more than just marketing and hype. People's tastes changes as well, and not necessarily according to the other two factors.

                        And I would think Burgundy has changed quite a lot in 1000 years. As has Bordeaux. While the Bordelais has led the world in hype for hundreds of years, if you told them way back when that minimum alcohol levels would never be a problem, they would have scoffed.

                        While hype is certainly a factor, there's quite often substance in the bottles too. And there's plenty of hype regarding a ton of mediocre Burgundy.

                        1. re: crw77

                          "Burgundy has changed very little... over 1000 years..."

                          Except for the vinification and the phylloxera-resistant rootstock, which is American, right?

                      2. re: mengathon

                        Astute observation. Not so much here, but on many other more wine-centric boards, the common post is "what's the next BIG thing?"

                        To me, who cares? It doesn't matter if the producer only does two bottles - one for me and one for Robert Parker, Jr. It's about what pleases me, and not what someone in the NYT thinks is "in vogue" at that moment. Heck, five years ago I could not get people to try Tavel Rosé. Suddenly, an article in the New Yorker hit and ladies were doing Rosé for lunch everywhere. The price of Tavel jumped up.

                        In the end, drink what amuses you, and disregard the press and the clamor. It's a fad, and it too shall pass. Should you only like Burgs - drink Burgs. Should you like big, bold, higher-alcohol PN's that could be mistaken for a Syrah by a sommelier - drink those. And, everything in between that you enjoy.


                  2. re: invinotheresverde

                    What didn't you like about the wines listed, and how do you feel they were flawed? I've had 14 of the 17 wines you listed, and maybe not all of them WOWED me, but they were all more than drinkable. The ones I have not had are the Iron Horse, Derbes, and Goldeneye.

                    From top to bottom, I have had some great bottles of Williams Selyem. Even recently we've had a few from the late 90's and early 2000's that have been good. I love Sea Smoke with some age, and still haven only popped one from my 2005 allocation. These will continue to rest on their sides along with my 06's and '07's. I think the '04's however are drinking nicely right now.

                    Many of the Oregon's you listed need time on their sides as well in my opinion, but that is just my preference. Many will disagree, and say that the '07's are good to go now, which many of them are.

                    Had an '06 Sanford on Halloween that was popped and poured and fabulous! I think the '06 is lmost as good as the '04 was, and may surpass it in time. Love this wine. Calera too I feel is born to age. Had many from the ealy 90's in the last 2 years, and they have been amazing wines. Their wines however do not do much for me when much younger. As for Auteur, these wines too are incredible with a few years in the bottle! Just my 2 yen... -mJ

                    1. re: njfoodies

                      I've tried them young and old, as I get a respectable amount of severely discounted wine, due to my job and friends in the business.

                      They simply never seem memorable or remarkable. Every time I drink a well-respected a/o pricey PN I feel like I could've jusy used those calories on something so much more interesting.. Something apparently doesn't register with me. It's like the varietal lacks anything special. PN only gives me a teeny fraction of the enjoyment of, say, Nebbiolo.

                      I guess it's just one of those things.

                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                        I’ve decided I have a Nebbiolo addiction. Maybe that’s the connection.

                        1. re: BN1

                          Doesn't "addiction" imply it's a problem? ;)

                  3. re: duck833

                    Cool. Someone else who likes the grape across the full spectrum. So long as the wine is well-made and balanced, I do not feel the need to award "points" for pure varietal integrity. If it's good - regardless - I tend to enjoy it.

                    Of course, I am drinking these for my pleasure, and not trying to fit them into a wine list, or match with any menu other than the one that night at my house.


                  4. Yes, there're too many inferior Pinot Noirs. Yes, I think that none of the good ones are value-priced.

                    It's a great food wine because it's very easy to pair with a wide spectrum of foods.

                    The OP may be the only poster who doesn't like Pinot Noirs. I just don't like the bad ones. And I've had quite a few.

                    I dig California Pinots, and have had a couple from Chile that were very, very impressive and not expensive (sadly for y'all I've forgotten which -- I took a look around and couldn't summon the names in my memory).

                    It's easy to hate a varietal that for all intents and purposes is being exploited -- not unlike the Syrah/Shiraz business of a few years back. I have to laugh at the people who go out and will buy awful Pinot Noir by the glass when there're actually better choices offered in another red varietal.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: shaogo

                      "The OP may be the only poster who doesn't like Pinot Noirs." I don't like them either and my wife won't hardly try them. I have to have a specific reason to choose one, like the mushroom quiche with an Anderson Valley PN we had a couple of weeks ago. It is the last red I consider when trying to pair a dish. I agree completely with the OP.

                      1. re: shaogo

                        I have a personal request. Can you please go back into your memory and list a few of the Chilean PN's that you enjoyed? With one exception, I have really not encountered any Chilean wine that I would buy, regardless of the price. I've had several retailers and distributors, who have filled my basket with free Chilean wines, in hope of changing my mind. With that one exception - no go, so far. As I try to keep an open mind and not brand any one area totally, I have gladly tried all the recommended wines without any that I'd purchase. I have thanked these nice folk, but have always moved on. Even free vs for $, I go with what I enjoy.

                        Thanks, and looking forward to your recs.


                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                          Hi Bill:

                          Can't say I'm an expert on South American PN, but one that I really enjoy is from the Amayna winery (Chile). I do not think it has a vineyard specific designation (simply look for Amayna PN). Amayna also makes excellent sauvignon blanc and chardonnay. I would definitely say that their wines are more "new world" than "old world" but at the same time I find them to be elegant, balanced, and complex.

                          1. re: anewton

                            Thank you. I have not seen it, but will look. I have to admit that I do not recall having a Chilean PN, but will now keep my eye out.

                            I still cannot quite get my head around NZ PN's, though it would seem that they should be on the cusp, and about to produce some great ones. Maybe it's just been the samples that I have experienced.

                            So much wine - so little time!



                      2. I suggest you don't buy another bottle in on this category, but instead try a bunch more at wine bars and pinot noir tastings at reputable shops.

                        I despised pinot for about 15 years, then one day, almost overnight, I loved that category. It could happen to you too :-)

                        That said, here are two different, but great pinots that I'm drinking now:
               (richer, more flavorful style
                        ) (lighter, fruity, with balanced acid)

                        1 Reply
                        1. re:

                          Thanks for the links. I haven't heard of the Redemption. I'll keep an eye out. I sell a metric shit-ton of A to Z for work. It's extremely popular where I live. I don't care much for it, but I think it gives Joe Average PN Drinker good QPR.