Tag Archive | "Pinot Noir"

Wines in Your Glass Should Tell a Unique Story

A common industry term is “typicity of varietal or region.” It simply means a wine should have distinction associated from the grape and land from which it hales.

By Troy Knapp

Troy Knapp is executive chef at Hyatt Hill Country Resort & Spa as well as a certified sommerlier

Troy Knapp is executive chef at the Hyatt Hill Country as well as a certified sommelier.

Years ago my wife and I hosted a Pinot Noir tasting where several styles and countries were represented in a blind format.  There were multiple bottles from Burgundy, France; New Zealand, Germany, Oregon and California — the major Pinot Noir producing regions.  All were very true to typicity of grape variety, except for one. This wine was, from the color, fruit profile and structure standpoint, very “non-Pinot-like.”

After the wines in the lineup were assessed by the guests and score sheets were tallied, there was a clear, “hands-down” favorite.  Much to my dismay, it was the one that was most uniquely different.   It was deep in color concentration with a distinct richness on the palate.

California label laws require that the specified varietal detailed on the label only represent 75 percent of its makeup, as a result, Syrah, Petite Syrah and or other thick-skinned grape varieties are frequently worked into the blend in rather large proportions.  This distorts the original profile quite drastically, ending up with a wine that is certainly not very Pinot-like.

A common industry term is “typicity of varietal or region.” It simply means a wine should have distinction associated from the grape and land from which it hales.  Consumer demands, as well as the development of wines made specifically to garner a high score of a persuasive wine critic, have greatly contributed to the dilution of this term.  The sanctity of individuality is being replaced with common familiarity and true expression slowly lost.

This event was, and still is fairly disturbing to me.   After all, this was a Pinot Noir tasting.  What a shame!  Several of the other selections in the tasting were remarkable! They were delicate with beautiful intricacies and nuances; unfortunately they were annihilated by the “fruit bomb.”

Is this what we want?  As consumers we have enormous influence on what is produced.  Have we conditioned our palates for an expectation of big bold flavors favoring sweet and sticky richness over intricate subtleties that develop like a perfectly orchestrated opera?  Pinot Noir should be elegant and feminine compared to its masculine counterparts such as Syrah, Cabernet and Malbec. It shows its true beauty in cool climates and when manipulation and blending is out of the picture.  Believe me, I love a concentrated deep dark wine, it just shouldn’t be labeled as a Pinot Noir.

Are we in such a hurry that we don’t slow down and taste? Whether it’s a great dinner or a nice glass of wine, most of the time beauty of nuance is overlooked.  Cool climate Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and many older wines beckon for attention as the beauty lies in their subtleties.

Like a good movie or a beautiful piece of music, wine should tell a story with a beginning, middle and conclusion. With good wine, all of these segments should have seamless integration and strengths that equate to harmony and balance. In essence, the journey is equally as important as the destination.

For the same reason that we should appreciate the differences of our friends, family, neighbors and colleagues, so should we appreciate each grape variety.  Each has something different to offer and should be allowed to be “itself.” The result is a greater relationship and enjoyment of life as it should be, without manipulation.

Troy Knapp is executive chef at the Hyatt Hill Country and a certified sommelier.




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Lange Estate Pinot Noir Is Lush Yet Elegant

Lange Estate Winery and Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2009

Fact: Lange Estate uses Pinot Noir grapes from all over its vineyards to make this wine, which has been bottled with a screw cap.

Twist it open and pour a taste into your glass. The garnet color, translucent in the glass, is what you’ll notice first. Then welcome bright red fruit on the nose with a small touch of earth and cocoa powder.

One taste will fill your mouth with the flavors of Bing cherries and ripe raspberries, cranberries, a hint of warm spices, with both earthy and mineral qualities in the mix, all of which give the wine a lush quality that’s filtered by the elegance that is a hallmark of good Pinot Noir. The finish lingers with a silky whisper.

Though two years old, this Oregon wine seemed a little young and tight upon opening, so you may want to let it air a bit.

The wine sells for about $17 a bottle at Costco.

Feeling:It’s hard to describe how a good Oregonian Pinot Noir makes you feel, other than happy. That’s the gift this wine imparts while there’s still some in the bottle.

Have it with stuffed mushrooms or pork meatballs and let that little giddy feeling continue.

For best results, chill this down to about 55 to 60 degrees (French cellar temperature and the correct temperature for all Pinot Noirs, if not all red wines). Then enjoy.

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Wine Review: A Pinot Noir Perfect for Turkey


Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Fermented Pinot Noir 2008

WillametteValleyPinotNoir3Fact: This is the first wine to list the resveratrol level on the label. What’s resveratrol? It’s a phytoalexin in wine that’s said to reduce blood sugar levels while being a cancer figther and an anti-inflammatory, according to Wikipedia. In other words, it could be good for you. It certainly is good for your palate, thanks for a heady aroma of cranberry, raspberry and wild strawberry as well as a touch of smoke. The flavors again make you think of tart red fruits from cranberry to pomegranate, leading to a bright finish.

Feeling: From the moment the first sip was poured, this wine was ready to drink, though it evolved nicely in the glass over time. Great Pinot flavors were evident, making it perfect with turkey or pork roast. Elegant and light-bodied, it is youthful and lively, the perfect complement to lighten up heavier fare.

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