Daily Glass: Ah, Pinot!

December 12, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

Nothing is simple around wine for us, oenophiles, right? We need to meticulously arrange proper experiences – perfectly match wine with food, with the company, with the mood, with the moment. If we don’t, we question ourselves to eternity – what would’ve happened if I would’ve open that other bottle I had in mind; should’ve I just plan it all differently?

But every once in a while, we let our guards down, and let things just happen. When we think about it right after, we realize – wow, totally random, and totally delightful. Yay!

That “random and delightful” was my experience yesterday. My plan was to open a bottle of wine from 1998, and I have a very small selection of those, so the one I picked happened to be a Burgundy. So that one was a special bottle, waiting for the evening and the decanter.

I can’t cook without the wine, so of course, the bottle had to be opened. The “before Thanksgiving” shipment from Field Recordings contained more than one interesting bottle – the one I told you about already was Pét Nat from California. Another bottle I never saw before had a bold Nouveau word printed across shiny, golden label:

I’m an avid fan of the “Beaujolais Nouveau” phenomenon. But I have to admit that a few years back, I tasted few of the attempts by California wineries to join the Nouveau movement, and those were widely unsuccessful.

So how would Field Recordings’ Nouveau rendition fare? Actually, spectacularly. As the label says, the grapes for this wine were hand-harvested only 74 days prior to the bottling. And nevertheless, the wine had all the finesse you expect from the perfectly balanced California Pinot Noir. This 2016 Field Recordings Nouveau California (12.1% ABV, 100% Pinot Noir) had lean, uplifting nose of fresh fruit, but less fruity than typical Nouveau, nothing grapey. On the palate, unmistakably Californian, touch of smoke with fresh plums and a bit of mint. Good acidity, more round than a typical French Nouveau version, perfectly drinkable. 8+. Outstanding, in a word. Would happily drink it again any day.

Remember I told you this was one of the days when things are just happening? I have a good number of bottles in the cellar, but absolute majority of the bottles are in the single amounts – just one bottle of particular wine from particular vintage, and that’s it. Thus sometimes, I spend good 20 minutes trying to select a bottle (in the fear of missing on what it can evolve into) and end up pouring myself a splash of Scotch instead. But yesterday, I had enough courage to grab a bottle of the wine which might be the only bottle in the US – unless someone also has good friends in Switzerland.

This wine was made by the family producer in Vaud region in Switzerland, Henri Cruchon, who I had pleasure meeting about 6 years ago. What makes it special is that this wine, called Nihilo, is not filtered, made from organic grapes, and doesn’t have any added sulfites. To preserve the wine better, the cork is covered in wax. And to be entirely correct, the wine goes beyond organic, as the back label sports Demeter logo, which means that the winery is certified biodynamic.

It is great to know that the wine is non-filtered and organic – but the ultimate verdict is in the glass. This 2015 Henri Cruchon Nihilo La Côte AOC Switzerland (13.5% ABV, blend of Pinot Noir, Gamay and Gamaret) had a spectacular nose, very complex – iodine, anise, crunchy cherries, mint. The palate was equally spectacular with sweet cherries, pepper, roasted notes, peppermint, crispy, fresh blackberries – once you start, you can’t stop. 8+/9-, outstanding wine.

And then there was 1998 Patrick Lesec Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes (13% ABV) – an 18 years old Burgundy wine, as Pinot Noir as it can be.

Patrick Lesec Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes18 years shouldn’t be an age for Burgundy, but I still was a bit concerned. Decided to decant the wine, to avoid sediment and let it breathe a bit, for about an hour. I’m clearly abusing the word “spectacular” in this post, but this is what this wine was. Touch of barnyard on the nose, on the palate – gunflint, smokey cherries, roasted meat, lots of herbs – oregano, mint, sage – every sip was a “wow” experience. By the end of the evening, the wine mellowed out and started showing more of the sweet cherries, still perfectly balanced with acidity. A pure treat for sure. Drinkability: 9.

There you have it, my friends. An accidental and hugely enjoyable Pinot Noir deep immersion – from California to Switzerland to France – very different wines holding one common trait – delivering lots and lots of pleasure. Cheers!

  1. December 13, 2016 at 2:35 am

    Interesting wines! I liked the label of the Swiss wine, which states the wine has to be enjoyed within 6 hours as otherwise it will turn brown and tasteless. In Burgundy the common knowledge seems to be that one shouldn’t decant a red Burgundy wine as it allegedly destroys the delicate aromas of the pinot. Looks like you proved otherwise. I love red Burgundy, but so far have never had the ‘spectacular’ experience as described by you with an older bottle. I have some in my collection from more recent vintages that need more time. Those few bottles from the 90ies I’ve tried were thinnish.

    • talkavino
      December 13, 2016 at 2:54 pm

      I guess I just learned once again that ignorance is bliss! 🙂 I don’t speak French, therefore I had no idea that Nihili was supposed to be consumed within 6 hours – I finished the bottle yesterday, which working on this post, so it would make it 24+ hours – and it was delicious till the last drop! And I had no idea that it is not recommended to decant Burgundy wines. This Gevrey-Chambertin had definitely more of the savory than fruity profile, but I can tell that even my guests, who are not wine connoisseurs, said that they enjoyed the wine very much. Oh well…

  2. December 13, 2016 at 8:11 am

    Sounds winderful! Wish I’d been there!

  3. December 13, 2016 at 8:13 am

    That was wonderful but I suppose wine-derful would work too 😉

    • talkavino
      December 13, 2016 at 2:49 pm

      I will take wine-derful any time!!!

  4. With Husband in Tow
    December 18, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    I love Pinot! But, I live in Thailand, so it’s a little harder to fine. This makes it sound so tasty.

    • talkavino
      December 18, 2016 at 9:28 pm

      Pinot are some of my favorite wines too. Is any Pinot hard to find in Thailand, or you are talking mostly about California and France? What wines are easy to find in Thailand?

  5. December 19, 2016 at 3:35 am

    The “Pet Nat” mention sent me down the rabbit hole. Now that I am infatuated with Field Recordings, you talk about a “Nouveau Pinot”? I’m all in on trying new things and looking at the Vineyard list on the Field Recordings site….(I will search out and find this Jurassic Park Vineyard near Los Olivos!). Then you take us on to an unfiltered organic blend…and finish with a Pinot with “barnyard…gunflint, smoked cherries, roasted meat…” on the nose. I really want to come drink at your house! Until then….I guess I will drool over your posts and search out these wineries!

    • talkavino
      December 19, 2016 at 8:52 am

      I discovered Pet Nat wines last year, and this Pet Nat from the Field Recordings was just outstanding, a pure joy in the glass.
      I live in a close proximity to New York city. If you are ever in the area, let me know – will be glad to share a bottle (or two 🙂 ) Cheers!

  6. December 19, 2016 at 11:04 am

    “We need to meticulously arrange proper experiences – perfectly match wine with food, with the company, with the mood, with the moment.”

    …the story of how I almost missed the entire dinner last night 😉

  1. December 30, 2016 at 12:24 pm

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