Christmas Eve is my big holiday. So what does one pour to match beet soup, salmon, perogies and cabbage? Umm, Pinot Noir, of course...? While not wanting to spoil a big meal with a blinded tasting, I did pour three very different Pinots to compare and contrast:
The was no doubt as to which wine was the crowd favourite. The 2004 Cristom Pinot Noir "Marjorie Vineyard" from Oregon's Willamette Valley. A deep cherry red, it exploded with truffle and lush black earth, followed by flowers, candied rasberry fruit, ferns, allspice and tobacco. On the palate it was beautifully balanced, with velvety tannins, very good acidity. Juicy, but not jammy, wow. I see why Oregon gets a lot of attention from some Burgundy fanatics. "Probably the best Pinot I ever had" is a quote from my father in law, who has a had a "few" good wines in his life. At this price it had to be good.
cork. 13.5% alcohol
Price: US$60 (Burgundy Wine Co.)
The 2003 Höpler Pinot Noir was a bit of an experiment - Austrian Pinot? Sure, I'll take a few of those. A pleasant surprise. Light cherry red in the glass with an attractive nose of raspberry and oak, supported by white pepper, smoke, floral, musk, vanilla and mushroom. Fresh berry juice with nice acidity, great balance, and a long finish. A great pairing for the meal.
cork. 13.5% alcohol
Price: C$31 (Opimian)
I reallly liked the '03 Cambria I had this summer so I bought two bottles of the 2005 Cambria Pinot Noir "Julia's Vineyard". From California's Santa Maria Valley, this deep cherry red wine was jammy, candied fruit on the nose, with attractive cocoa, oak and smokey notes. Despite the nose this was not a fruit bomb - crisp berry fruit, nicely balanced, but a short finish. A great wine in a tough crowd.
cork. 13.7% alcohol
Price: C$31 (SAQ)
Quote of the night: while pondering the Cristom, my father-in-law was warned that he should drink his Cristom or there might not be any left for him. The response: "Once you've drunk it you can't smell it." 'Nuff said.
No Burgundies tonight - those come out tomorrow.