As promised, here are some Pinot Noirs worth trying

June 17, 2023

According to its website, “Domaine Patrick Noël bottles only estate fruit, fermented exclusively with native, indigenous yeasts.” M. Noël’s family members have been vignerons for three centuries. Before Patrick, the 50 plots had been divided as they were passed from mothers to daughters. Patrick regrouped the family lands, and the matriarchal tradition has been restored with winemaker daughter Julie taking the reins, while Patrick has focused on the farming aspect. Don’t think Julie did not “earn her bones.” Educated at the Lycée Viticole de Beaune with a BTS, followed by the Faculty of Oenology of Bordeaux National Diploma of Oenology. To augment this academic training, Julie spent stints in Burgundy, Bordeaux, Roussillon and the Rhone Valley, and eight months in New Zealand. I am betting papa had her working the vines at an early age. Farming grapes is an all-hands-on-deck effort. Most of us think white when considering the Loire, primarily Sauvignon Blancs such as Sancerre, Chenin Blanc and Pouilly Fume. However, 10% of production is Pinot Noir. I promised PN this week, and Patrick Noël Sancerre Rouge is a fine example at $38. Unlike the mostly clay soil of Burgundy and much of Sonoma, Sancerre grapes are grown in more stony soil containing limestone and flint. Look for berry, cherry, plum and pie spice aromas followed by more cherry, cocoa, bright mineral acidity and vague leather hints supported with tannin that call for a few years’ cellaring. You may need help from your wine store, but the wine is available via the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, so it is findable.

Melville Estate PN Santa Rita Hills 2021 will be easier to locate. Melville produces several PNs and Syrahs, which normally rate 92-93 McD vintage specific but cost in the $70s. I chose the 2021 because at 93 McD and under $40, it is a wonderful value. Opens with cherry and pie spice aromas; bright acidity supports cherry, cola, mace and clove flavors through a long, clean finish. If the 2019 is on the shelf, it also rates 93 McD and is drinking great; buy under $40. Bargain shoppers should search for Rubus Reserve PN RRV 2020 under $25, 89 McD. I have seen these in D.C. and Virginia at $240/case. You will feel like you are in NYC or Portland as you run out; no mask or gun needed. Montmorency cherries, strawberries, cola, licorice and floral aromas lead to jammy berry flavors. It’s recommended with cherry-glazed, five-spice smoked duck, but we enjoyed it with burgers on the coals. Let’s wrap up with Black Kite Cellars Kite’s Rest Anderson Valley Mendicino PN 2018, 93 McD. Their latest release is the 2019, 91 McD, which is also quite good. The ‘18 opens to cherry, black currant, pie spice and redwood hints. Big-bodied cherry flavor repeats with cinnamon, vanilla and earthy subset. Finishes cleanly with a slight stony minerality and spicy notes. If you try this wine, let me know if it's redwood or oak. Perhaps my visit to coastal Mendocino influences my olfactory acuity. Happy Father’s Day!

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