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The range of things called pinot noir...wow!

In the span of a week I have partaken of beverages ranging from some wonderful 08 Eyrie PNs to a Chilean Smoking Loon used for a pan sauce. All were drinkable, bordering on guzzleable, but one was bordering on Nirvana, one was vin ordinaire, and some, in between, were just that, in between, like Parducci or Ponzi Tavola. I know this is true for other wines, but it just struck me in this pinot noir week, and I felt like sharing it. Cheers!

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  1. Ever try a red Burgundy from Mme Lalou Bize-Leroy?

    8 Replies
      1. re: tim irvine

        The label is simply Leroy, they are expensive, and they are worth it. I see that the lowest common denominator, the "simple" Bourgogne Rouge, now goes for about $50.

        Well, the lady just has fabulous taste and she selects great wines for her label in addition to the wines from her own vineyards.

        1. re: collioure

          It is important to note you are referring to Maison Leroy bourgogne rouge the negociant bottling. Anything Domaine Leroy or Domaine D'Auvenay is many multiples more, often several hundred dollars for a 1er cru and thousands for a grand cru.

          I have tried the 09 Maison Leroy bougogne rouge. It's pretty good, but at that price I much prefer the 09 Hudelot Noellat Chambolle Musigny. Although, I will say the 1995 Maison Leroy Cote de Beaune villages is in a perfect place now. Have had a couple of bottles at Joel Robuchon Vegas this summer.

          1. re: Porthos

            Actually I was referring to both.

            She is a rather special kind of negociant.

            1. re: collioure

              I was referring to your comment about pricing. There is no such thing as a Domaine Leroy wine for $50. Their Savigny les Beaune Narbantons is $200+ these days.

          2. re: collioure

            Leroy on the whole produces my favourite red Burgundies. I think (though I might be wrong) she was also the first one that went fully biodynamic in Burgundy. The only problem is that I get disproportionately unlucky with corked Leroy.

            I enjoy many West Coast Pinots as well, whether from Oregon, Sonoma or other places in California, and I think you can get very decent Sonoma and Oregon Pinots for 30-35 dollars - some real bargains, and on the whole at that price level you will get many fewer nasty surprises than at the same price level in Burgundy. But I dispise the big, oaky Pinots you sometimes find in certain places in California (not Sonoma). A total perversion of Pinot. In some cases you could be forgiven for thinking it is Syrah. Repulsive.

            I also think - just a matter of personal taste - that at the higher price level, in terms of elegance, complexity and sheer beauty nothing can beat a top Burgundy. There are some truly great Pinots on the West Coast, but if the alternative is a great Burgundy, the choice makes itself.

            In terms of value pinots in Europe, the German state of Baden produces some real bargains. Interestingly, at the top level, many German Pinots are massively overpriced, but at the bargain level there are some very decent ones to be had.

        2. re: collioure

          or H. Lignier, or A. & B. Rion.... everything "Pinot Noir" should be, and a little bit more. :)

          1. re: collioure

            We have had several of Mme Bize-Leroy's wines, and while good, I am not sure that they are quite worth the $ in the US.

            I am drinking an '08 Dominique Mugneret Nuits-Saint Georges, Les Flueurières, à Vosne-Romanée, that was only about US $35/btl. A lighter style, than some, but lovely, none the less.

            Still, all of Mme. Bize-Leroy's PN's, that I have had, have been lovely - just a few $'s more - maybe a bunch of $'s more? If nothing else, she is kicks!

            Hunt

          2. I think that might be more true for Pinot Noir than most other popular grape varieties since it's challenging to grow, picky about location, and its character is easily overpowered by too much oak or other factors.

            Around 20 years ago I was trying to figure out what Syrah was about so I did a tasting of a dozen or so Syrahs and Syrah blends, which only increased my confusion.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              < think that might be more true for Pinot Noir than most other popular grape varieties since it's challenging to grow, picky about location, and its character is easily overpowered by too much oak or other factors.>
              It's picky about location, but just about every winery in California is trying to grow PN now, and some is just overblown and fleshy... not good in this case.

            2. Pinot Noir is a tough grape to produce good wines from. That is not that Pinot Noir cannot produce good to great wines, but that it is a tough grape to do correctly.

              That said, Pinot Noir can definitely give one an indication of its terroir, and also reveal mistakes quickly. It is not easy, and a few extra $'s can pay dividends.

              I enjoy the grape, whether it's an austere lesser Burgundy, or a big, very bold Santa Lucia Foothills PN. Though different, they can be great, depending on the dishes, that they are paired with.

              PN is a varietal, that I have a very difficult time finding a "cheap" version of, but can find dozens of totally different wines, with just an investment. To me, that investment is worthwhile, and I reap a reward.

              Now, I did not realize that Smoking Loon did a PN, or that it was from Chile, but then seldom buy wines, with "cute" animals on the label - just never knew.

              At the lower end, some of my favorites have been:

              Acacia (Carneros)
              Erath (OR)
              Firesteed (OR)

              However, I normally look up the price-scale a bit more, but that is just me.

              Hunt

              13 Replies
              1. re: Bill Hunt

                Austere lesser Burgundy?

                That must be what I drink - Mercrey, Santenay, Savigny-les-Beaune, Pernand-Vergelesses. Or did you mean Fixin and Marsannay?

                Hey, when the dollar revives I promise to buy Volnays.

                1. re: collioure

                  There are many "lesser Bugs," say at the Village level.

                  One cannot usually drink DRC's every night - at least around my house.

                  Hunt

                2. re: Bill Hunt

                  Schug makes a decent Pinot Noir you can find for around $20 retail. They export a significant percentage of their production to Germany, so they have to satisfy a different group of consumers than most California wineries.

                  The most affordable Pinot Noirs I've had with the flavors I want from that grape have been from Alsace and Germany.

                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    Totally agree on Erath and Firesteed in lower price point Oregon PNs that come likely from various places farther south in the state. Tried a Ken Wright that was a mix of their vineyards and was quite good. Another more reasonably priced one I have enjoyed is Gothic Nevermore. I am often on the prowl for wines at that twenty and under price point. Stumbling onto a good one is a delight, but even the less stellar ones make me better appreciate it when I spring for something in that 34-45 range like a good year Patricia Green that has aged a tad.

                    1. re: tim irvine

                      I recently tried two lower-priced Willamette Valley PNs, an Argyle @ $20+ and another whose label I'm not remembering at about half that, and found them so soft they almost disappeared. Nice enough, but not what I'd expected at all. For simple beverage use I'm fine with Bronco's Blue Fin … I've seen the Nevermore and will try it. As wine and water are pretty much all I drink these days a $20 bottle is a stretch on my budget, and I rarely look beyond Trader Joe's.

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        Try Wine by Joe PN. I am with you on the "on soft it almost disappears" thing on some of them. Venturing to CA in the under $20 sphere I like Cambria and McMurray.

                        1. re: tim irvine

                          Also Patricia Green's "Dollar Bills Only" (OR).

                          1. re: Leonardo

                            I will look for it. Had an interesting battle of cheap pinots last night, Parducci small lot versus Firesteed...two totally different wines, the former almost jammy (not my fave) and the latter very light and minerally, quite nice.

                    2. re: Bill Hunt

                      Just picked up an Acacia at Costco for $10.99 (thru Dec 1st, Redwood City, CA). Pleasantly surprised, nice fruit without going overboard and light tannins. Will definitely pick up more.

                      My current "upscale" favorite is the 2011 Wind Gap Sonoma Coast - pretty and elegant.

                      1. re: ceekskat

                        Was that the Acacia Carneros PN? If so, that is a great price. I am used to seeing it at about US $23 at my Costco (Paradise Valley, AZ), and feel that it is one of the best "low-priced" PN's around.

                        Though we usually consume those, shortly after purchase, I have left a few bottles in the cellar, and revisited them 3 - 5 years later, to find that they HAVE changed, but are still hanging together. At US $11, I would have put in a case.

                        Hunt

                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                          Yes, 2012 Carneros PN. Would be fun to see how this develops in 1 - 2 years.

                          1. re: ceekskat

                            I have had several vintages of this PN, and they did change with a bit of time in the cellar. I would not go too long, as the "fruit-forward" nature did "retreat," but the wine held up - this was up to 4 years, after purchase in the cellar - a good wine, though different. I think that five years would be about the max, but have not tested that theory.

                            Enjoy,

                            Hunt

                        2. re: ceekskat

                          That's an excellent price. Elsewhere it's $18 and up.

                      2. Would be interested in knowing what the "nirvana" bottle was :)

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: TombstoneShadow

                          I am not a note taker, but I recall an Eyrie 08 that was wonderful. I just gave a soft spot for The Eyrie (and a few others). Of course it really helps to be on the Oregon coast in August on a perfect day. In a more clinical setting I have probably had better wines (or at least so said very knowledgeable people with whom I was drinking) but none that made me happier. Oh, and I A/B-ed it with the Black Cap of same year and it was just better to me. Now I am back in Austin, it is pizza night, and I am back to Wine by Joe '11 PN, mighty good for about $13, better than some I have had that were in the $35+ range.

                          1. re: tim irvine

                            Hello from Portland. Will be touring some Dundee Hills wineries next week.

                            Love Eyrie.

                            Drinking Adelsheim 2011 PN, $25.

                            1. re: Leonardo

                              Love Adelsheim...always pleased with it despite it's being, relatively, affordable. Also find the non-vineyard specific Ken Wright to be a relative bargain and often mighty nice.

                              1. re: Leonardo

                                I tried "Dusky Goose" 2007 from Dundee Hills at a restaurant in Chicago recently and really enjoyed it.