By Celia Strong
In case you can’t imagine, some weeks it is really easy to find a wine I feel like talking about. And some weeks it’s impossible. This week, as luck would have it, we have an old wine, meaning it’s been around for years. But, it has a new lower price. Yes, believe it. Lower. And, just to get in the mood for writing I got on the internet and looked up a few things. After we do our learning, I will explain our title. Found a few things.
So, we are going to eastern France today. For a red wine from the Burgundy region. And, that means it is a Pinot Noir. We have gone over this variety several times in the past. Maybe not as often as we should have, considering what great wines it can make. But, if we all remember, it is a difficult grape to grow. Hard to grow means wine producers are unsure every year what they’ll be able to make. As we review a bit, we’re just going to discuss Pinot Noir as it lives and grows in Burgundy.
Red Burgundy wines are some of the most prized in the world. Worth noting because they are neither big bodied wines nor rich wines. Even the most expensive ones are pale colored, often translucent and extremely subtle in their flavors. Pinot Noir grapes are weak. They get diseases easily and mutate continuously. They are thin skinned so they ripen early. And, if not harvested early enough, fall rains totally dilute their juice and make the wines more acidic. Pinot Noir is a very old variety, with many mutations over the years. Some of these, which are still with us, include Pinot Meunier, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc. It also has many clones. Each clone has to be planted under conditions that are just right for it. More than most varieties, Pinot Noir responds to its growing conditions soil and weather. Truly a product of its “terroir.” Which explains why from one row of vines in Burgundy to the next, the wines can change drastically. Also, these wines from Burgundy rise to levels above any other Pinot Noirs in the world.
In young red Burgundy wines, the flavors include raspberries, strawberries, cherries and violets. With a couple of years in their bottles, the wines gain licorice, coffee, vanilla, clove, truffle, wet leaves, tobacco, cola and game flavors. Appellation “Burgundy” wines can usually age for four years or so. Premier Crus can go six to eight years and Grand Crus can age for up to twenty and more. Red Burgundies are lighter bodied, slightly herbaceous, with an earthy side in their aromas and flavors. Tannin levels are generally lower in these wines – proof they have thinner skins. And acidity runs a bit higher than most red wines. Remember acidity and food do well together.
Food pairings with Red Burgundies are numerous. These wines go superbly with Gruyère cheese. Also known as Comté. It made just fifty miles east of the best vineyards in Burgundy. Duck is always safe with a red Burgundy. The wine’s acidity is perfect with the duck fat. Mushrooms, roast chicken, grilled fish, bacon, lobster ravioli, white pizza, goat cheeses, and risotto. Hungry yet?
Our red Burgundy is the Louis Latour Bourgogne Rouge. For the United States, the bottle’s labels do say Pinot Noir also. The Latour family, in the Burgundy wine industry, goes back to 1731. Maison Louis Latour was founded in 1797. Still today, the Latour operation stays closely connected to their soil and their traditional growing and winemaking techniques. The soil is maintained with organic practices, keeping it fertile and safe for the future. The juice is placed in oak vats for quick fermentation. Using only indigenous yeast. Then, the wine is stored in barrels for about twelve months where it is racked several times to remove sediment. All of their red wines are filtered. Our wine has a regional appellation, which means the grapes used to make it can come from anywhere within the Burgundy region. It is 100% Pinot Noir, from vines that are an average of 25 years old. The vines grow on clay and limestone soil. And, the grapes are hand harvested and fermented in traditional open vats. Aging is done in stainless steel tanks for this wine to maintain its fruity character. The finished wine is a bright ruby red color and shows notes of cassis, licorice and raspberries. It has cherry flavors and mellow tannins. Thirsty?
Over the last several years, the prices of this, and most other red Burgundies, have slowly crept up. But, a new lower cost has come to town. $13.97. Surely a bargain! Which means the only thing we have left to go over is “Peeno Noir.” Well, it’s part of the somewhat risqué lyrics of a somewhat risqué song. And video. But, gee. If we can’t have fun with our wine…Enjoy.