Pinot Noir is a notoriously difficult grape to grow and low yields result in high prices. This grape is responsible for my both my best and worst wine experiences. The best Pinot Noir is always perfumed and may combine this with intensity, elegance or even a beguiling ethereal nature. At its worst the wines become thin and acidic. It is a grape that adapts phenomenally to terroir. The patchwork appellation system of Burgundy is an attempt to categorise the myriad expressions of this noble grape.
The Grand Crus of Burgundy hold a hallowed place in the world of wine, but that is not to say they are alone as the top expressions of the grape. Indeed given the cost most of us will need to look elsewhere for anything but the most special of occasions. The German wine from Stepp below would not be a bad place to start and the new world is also beginning to find its feet.
The below wines were tasted at The Sampler during my recent visit. I have only minimal exposure to both German Pinot Noir and Grand Cru Burgundy so this was quite a treat. Check out the main article for a review of The Sampler.
Stepp Pinot Noir, Pfalz, Germany, 2014:
No formal notes on this one but this is a producer I have been very impressed with over the past couple of years. This was my first chance to taste the Pinot Noir and given it costs around £15 this is top flight for the price point . I found this savoury, tasty and well balanced with a lot more complexity than I would expect at this point. I will be buying again soon. Bravo.
Leflaive & Associe, Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru, Burgundy, 2011:
I think this was probably too young to really get into. It had an intensity but seemed somewhat closed. Strangely this also had a strong note of capsicum running through both nose and palate, overlying rich fruit and good structure. Medium body and tannin, warming rich and well balanced. At the moment I am unsure where this one is going but it has potential and is an interesting semi savoury, semi sweet expression of Pinot Noir. Hopefully time will pull all the elements together.
Domaine Rossignol-Trapet, Chambertin Grand Cru, Burgundy, 2011:
Aromatic, sensuous, deliciously rich red fruit. In contrast to the wine above this was 100% together. The body was medium and the balance impeccable. Given this is so young I dread to think how good this can become with time. They talk about Bordeaux being cerebral and Burgundy being well, something else. My lack of tasting note says it all – this had us all with smiles from ear to ear: Simply Marvellous.