Harvest begins in the Northern Hemisphere

September 16, 2013

In an effort to toady up to the big chief, I did a little research on high QPR Pinot Noir for affordable regular consumption. I located five 87-point 2011 West Coast PNs and bought a bottle of each to sample. Hahn was indeed a winner, especially at $13/bottle. Hahn Winery California PN 2011 is dark cherry colored, opens to ripe dark berries, lavender, baking spice and a hint of smoke. On the palate, fruit forward with pronounced black cherry and berry flavors undergirded with spice and black pepper. A pleasing, fairly long finish is clean with subdued tannin and spice. Serve this with a platter of cured meat, cheese and some olives to a gathering of football winos or with barbecue.

You can buy Hahn under $12 when you purchase a case. The other listed wines were Murphy Goode, decent North Coast but you can do better; Primarius Oregon, a bit delicate for me; Windy Bay Oregon, my second choice, was short in the finish; and Folie a Deux Sonoma Coast was not a good value.

Remember Pouilly-Fuisse, once the only French words that new wine drinkers untutored in French felt safe using? I recently sampled a 2010 Domaine du Chalet Pouilly Pouilly-Fuisse, 94 points when you buy for $25 per bottle. It is out there at this price point. Neal Martin of Wine Advocate awarded a 93. Winesearcher was a bit stingy, giving an 88-point score, but when the wine took gold at the Challenge International du Vin recently, I decided to review it. Due to our ridiculous state law, I had to contact “Jean Lafitte” to privateer it for me. WA was accurate. I found a lovely green-tinged, pale-golden Pouilly-Fuissé with a pungent bouquet of ripe fruits, white flowers and spices. On the palate, an implied sweetness provided by fruit and pleasing, round, nearly unctuous mouthfeel. Eighteen months in oak provides spice.

The balance of fruit, acid and tannins is on the mark. A very long, impressive finish is cleaned up with a pretty acid-mineral complexity with saline and blood orange nuance.

Wine Curmudgeon is always a good read. I enjoyed this, from the Aug. 4 issue, concerning the positive health effects of red wine: “Red wine fights inflammation (whatever that means). Too much alcohol could lead to cancer (no kidding), and that red wine may lead to improved sexual function in women (big surprise).

What’s next, writes Siegal, that spammers will push wine instead of foreign lotteries and Viagra?” He goes on to promise he will write no more health-related wine columns. If you go to his website, after reading the entire paper, ads and all, of course, you will get great advice on good wine priced under $10. Happy hunting!

The harvest is starting in the Northern Hemisphere. So far it looks like Austria, Germany (a sharp, hard freeze in October might help the Eiswein crowd), Italy and France will have poor to awful results with a few exceptions. California, especially central and coastal regions will do well, although inland Napa is suffering too much heat and Sonoma is just a tad better.

Washington’s season is running early, and too much rain bodes badly. NY Finger Lakes and Canada dessert regions are looking excellent. Portugal’s Douro and North and South Rhone are enjoying great weather and may pull out a good crop.

Finally and definitely best for last, Domaine Lafage Vieille Vignes Carignan Cote du Roussillon 2011 was touted by Robert Parker, erstwhile Pope of the Potomac, at a stout 93 points. WA said 91.

You can buy a case for $144. Will cellar four to five years. Aged 12 months in concrete vats then bottled unfiltered. Dark crimson colored with a complex, aromatic bouquet of garrigue, raspberries, black cherries, damp forest floor and spring flower nuance. I doubt you will find this QPR more than a few times in your life. Order one bottle to confirm it fits your profile, then as much as you can afford to consume in the next few years.

Will probably not cellar more than five but will only last one, unless you have more restraint than I do.