“In Praise of Pinot” with Sanjay Menon
article by Praveen Krishnamurthy
Pinot Noir, the grape that epitomises elegance, grace, novelty and above all beauty. Tough to grow, tough to harvest but easily drinkable and liked by all. One of the harder grapes to make wine from, Pinot Noir, if made right can create a magical experience like no wine. Even more so from the Burgundy region in France that prides itself with producing this magical wine.
Terroir, The Madras Wine Club, was instrumental in arranging a wine dinner evening on 8th August at Crowne Plaza for its members to celebrate the phenomenon that is PINOT NOIR. Mr Sanjay Menon from San Sula took us on a special pinot noir journey through the famed regions in Burgundy highlighting the specialty of this grape.
Through this write up, it is my endeavour to showcase the wines of that evening along with some tasting notes that was compiled along with Sanjay during the evening.
Before we dive into the wines, it is only appropriate that we give an overview about Pinot Noir. As mentioned earlier, it is a tough grape to grow and very fickle to weather. It grows well in the cooler climes and this explains some of the regions that grow this grape. Though known for contributing to the wines in Burgundy and Champagne, other notable regions that grow the grape are Marlborough and Martinborough regions in New Zealand, Central Coast in California, Willamette Valley in Oregon, Yarra valley, Margaret River in Australia.
In Burgundy, through the French tradition of Terroir, Pinot Noir is grown extensively along with Gamay used in Beaujolais wine and Chardonnay used to produce Chablis. Burgundy is by far one of the highest AOC appellation dominated regions in France and unlike its famous cousin Bordeaux, the appellation was derived through centuries of production by monks and monasteries.
Amongst the sub regions, Cote D’or produces some of the most known and expensive burgundies in the world. Cote D’or itself is divided into two regions Cote de Nuit which almost exclusively produces only the red wine and Cote the beaune that produces some white wines along with the Red Wines.
Having gained an overview about Pinot Noir, we will now explore the wines of the evening. The attempt here is to give a brief history about the wine along with some personal tasting notes of the author.
2013, Francois Labet ‘lle de beaute’ IGP Corsica.
The first wine we tasted was in fact not from Burgundy but from Corsica. Though closer to Italy, it is a French administered region. Ile de Beaute, literally translated as Island Beauty is the IGP appellation name given to this region and IGP itself expands as Indication Geographique Protegee which is the intermediate classification in the wine classification system of France.
This pinot noir true to its region had a little bit of everything. It displayed the trademark of pinot showing cherry, floral notes, the earthy spiceness of the Mediterranean and the tangy freshness of the Alpines. Overall a perfect start.
2010 Bouchard Pere & Fils Cotes de Nuits Villages
The most interesting thing about the house of Bouchard Pere and Fils is that they have been producing wines since 1731. Though it is no longer family owned, in 1995 the Champagne house Joseph Henriot acquired the company and its quality has risen as a consequence.
Today Bouchard is led by Stephane Follin Arbelet while the wines are made by Philippe Prost who has been with the company since 1978.
Coming into force in 1937 The villages appellation in cote de beaune refers to the 14 villages in the region from which it is grown.
My nose was filled with black cherry and licorice with a round mouth, character, good length on satin tannins and the wine maker recommends that the wine should be drunk in its youth to enjoy the freshness.
Another illustrious wine from the house of Bouchard Pere and Fils, this time an older premier cru, the second highest classification below the Grand Cru. These wines are produced from pre defined single plots from the villages. These plots are known as climats.
A perfume filled bouquet filled with ripe red fruits, wood smoke and spicy notes lead into the palate with layered penetrating flavours and silky smooth texture. On the finish, the smooth spicy exit with the right touch of oak ensured I had a second fill to repeat the experience again.
1991 Domaine Bachelet Maranges 1er Cru La Fussiere
Situated in the southern end of Cote D’or The maranges region in burgundy consists of 170 hectares of villages and premier cru vineyards. 95% of the wine produced in this region is Red. The region itself is divided into 7 premier cru climats and we tasted the wines produced from the La Fussiere climat from the Premier Cru classification of Dezize.
The nose had a robust tones of red cherry, raspberry and matured wood. The palate is strong, mature with a firm but smooth finish leaving a tinge of Turkish delight and earthiness on the palate. A star premier cru.
1998 Domaine Bachelet Maranges 1er Cru La Fussiere
In no way inferior to the 1991, this wine once again displayed all the characters of the predecessor but the differentiator and the uniqueness coming from the taste which left a touch of Vanilla on the finish.
2000 Domaine Louis Latour Corton Grand Cru
The final wine of the evening was the delightful Grand Cru from Corton in Cote de Beaune. Corton itself is the largest and only Grand Cru appellation of Cote de Beaune. This particular wine is from the climat of Clos du roi in the village of Aloxe-Corton.
The aroma immediately fills you with dark Cherry and ripe berries with hints of rustic earthiness. Medium to full bodied on the palate with silky mature tannins the taste reveals full power of the fruits and integrated oak with a balanced and full finish.
This brings us to the end of this terroir event. Overall it was an enjoyable evening and of course a special mention about the food during the evening which was spectacular to say the least and paired extremely well with the wines.
My pick of the evening was the Heart of Palm and the squash and walnut Ravioli.