NWC – 17th Jan – French Pinot Noir

Alongside the evenings where everyone brings a bottle we have sessions where one person organises the whole tasting at Nottingham Wine Circle. The week someone chose to focus on Pinot Noir from various regions, outside of just Burgundy that we already know and love.

We began with a modest NV Cremant de Bourgogne from the Cave de Genouilly. Sticking with the theme it was a blanc de noirs, 90% pinot and 10% gamay. It had been purchased in 2019 so a few years down the line. The age had softened things but I would have liked a little more zip. Some pleasant light fruits, touch of blackcurrant with a sweet cream soda note. Not bad for 8 euros but not going to set the world alight.

Pinot Noir, Vignerons Ardechois, 2019 was our first foray into still wine. This rural region isn’t that far from Burgundy but isn’t know for their wines, of any note anyway. It had a somewhat promising savoury, smoky nose although quite a generic red fruited profile. Sadly the predominant features of the palate were a greenness, stalky and lean. Despite this it was light and relatively easy drinking but rustic and lacking charm. At £10ish you don’t get much other French pinot but I won’t be buying any

Another ‘budget’ offering was the more well known Louis Lator. A large negotiant I have had the Valmoissine before, this was the 2022 and is available from Majestic at £14. This was a different beast, perhaps the 2020 showing too but the nose was really quite heady and expressive. It had a new world character, sweeter and darker fruit with serious concentration. Good value for money

I’ve been keen to try more Alsace pinot. My favouirte producer of the last few years, Albert Mann makes an (apparently) excellent one at £60+ and there are a lot of pricey examples. Leon Beyer’s Reserve Personelle 2017 comes in at a more modest £20. It was the most enjoyable and balanced of the wines so far, red fruit and sweet spice on the nose but most importantly the juicy front of the palate that I look for in my favourite style of pinot noir. The only caveat was there was little complexity but it was already fading a little, not one for the long haul.

Our next three wines were from the Loire, less known for their red in general of course but a region not to be discounted. Firstly a Saget, La Petite Perriere, 2022, divided the room. Few loved it but I thought it was actively unpleasant with red apples and nail polish and few redeeming features. Fortunately it had been picked up for only 7 euros.

Menetou-Salon Rouge. Jean Tellier, 2020 was unfortunately not my style, perhaps again due to the vintage but it was dark concentrated and almost inky. It reminded me of a cool climate new world Syrah! Dark fruit and baking spices with a touch of smoke and meatiness.

Cuvee Le Connetable, Sancerre Rough, Joseph Mellot, 2014 was the first of the evenings wines that showed some real maturity. The nose was much more evolved than anything that had some before, really forest floor notes alongside sweet red fruits. The palate was a little lean and a touch green but Loire 2014 is unlikely to be showing much ripeness. It was also one of the only wines of the evening I would describe as truly elegant, really enjoyed this and believe available at around £30

Hurrah they say, we arrived at Burgundy. And it was almost immediately questioned why we would waste our time anywhere else. £20 doesn’t get you much in the region these days but this Bourgogne Rouge from Stephane Brocard (son of JM Brocard of Chablis fame) was charming and proclaimed as good value in most quarters. The 2019 vintage was well received and, I think, to my taste as it was similarly rated to 2020 but not quite as ‘big’ and powerful. The nose was quite closed and muted here but the palate made up for it. Good acidity and balanced, a little wild strawberry and sweet spice with a touch of oak showing too.

The question with a ‘lesser’ Burgundy such as the above is ‘how long might it last?’. Well, happily, the next wine was a 2004 Bourgogne Rouge from AF Gros. Gros is somewhat of a name than Brocard and this wine now goes for £25-30 but I still wasn’t expecting it to have held up as well as it did. The red fruits in the nose had a pleasant sour tang alongside a touch of farmyard but barely discernible, just how I like it. The palate was now light and gentle with age but still with remarkable fruit and a good long finish.

Between that comparison and the more impressive final wines from further North in Burgundy we stopped off to taste a Garnerot, Mercurey, 2019. Having visited this area twice I was surprised not to recognise this producer. Having done a little research their first vintage was 2018 and it doesn’t seem much of their small production makes it to the UK. The nose was quite sweet and dominated by vanilla rather than any floral or fruit high notes, perfectly pleasant but a little one dimensional. This followed to the palate that had a creaminess from that oak influence and more red fruit but still not quite the definition I would have hoped for. At £25 it probably didn’t compare favourably to the Bourgogne Rouge‘s of the evening but still given its early in their project at Garnerot I will look out for them in future.

Louis Jadot, Gevery Chambertin, Petite Chapelle, 2008 represented the first of three ‘serious’ wines to round off our evening. This was an interesting bottle and another to divide the room, for me it was more mature than I expected or hoped and not quite where it should have been? The nose was quite good, a complexity with its age and the palate had real structure and well integrated tannin. It just felt a little dumb, a sweet and sour note with some spice and dried fruits. It was good but I expected more. Especially so having drunk a Bourgogne Rouge from 2004 that seemed fresh, despite neither being from a good vintage.

Demougeot, Pommard Les Vignots, 2005 was a brooding, powerful wine. It was dark, intense, concentrated but above all, balanced. The nose was complex, both black and red fruited with some herbs and a touch of baking spices. The palate all that and more with a dark fruited creaminess. It was effortless power and probably the wine of the night. £60 for recent vintages of this wine doesn’t seem bad value at all.

We finished proceedings with a producer we’ve enjoyed at our group through various people having bought their wines over the years. Michael Gros, Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru, 2005. This and the Jadot really showed the mercurial nature of pinot and Burgundy. Initially I thought it was just closed and still needed most time despite almost 20 years, it was quite dark fruited but a touch green. Fundamentally it was still very primary, no real aromatics or complexity. One of the group felt confident there was some brett, (a not uncommon fault) but that tends to remove that primary fruit but maybe it was at a low level. Regardless it was by no means undrinkable but a disappointment vs other bottles I have had from Gros.

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