Our sold out event was called “The Pinot Noir Challenge.” Our plan was to serve 8 wines all made from the Pinot Noir from 8 different countries. And we served them blind so no one knew which wine they were drinking. It was only at the very end, after people had a chance to evaluate and score each wine, did we reveal their identities.
And just like most blind tastings, people were surprised with the results. They did know the countries represented but very few guessed the Burgundy. All they knew was we were tasting wines from France, Italy, Oregon, California, New Zealand, Australia, Austria and South Africa.
We did have an aperitif wine: a Crémant de Bourgogne, a sparkling wine made from the Pinot Noir, the same grape used to make Champagne and they knew that wine’s identity upfront.
Here are the wines we tasted, but not in the order they were served. The only person who knew the identity of the wines was Joe Maiorano, owner of the best Italian restaurant in New Haven, Tre Scalini. And the wines were selected by Connecticut’s authority on French wines, Bob Feinn of Mt. Carmel Wines.
Melville Santa Barbara 2013 $31.00

Belle Pente Murto 2011 $36.00

Nuits Saint Georges Dufouleur 2013 $36.00

Hamilton-Russell South Africa 2014 $40.00

Greywacke New Zealand 2012 $30.00

Johanneshof Grillenhugel 2013 $32.00

Castello di Nieve Langhe 2014

Shaw and Smith Australia 2013 $34.00

Take a few minutes to guess which wines were the favorites…..

What was surprising was the Burgundy was 7th, almost at the end. And the wine receiving the most number of votes was Belle Pente Murto from Oregon’s Dundee Hills. It was the most ‘Burgundian’ of the wines at the tasting with aromas and flavors of strawberry and red cherry and hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. The 2nd most popular wine was the Castello di Neive in Barbaresco. Barbaresco is famous for its Nebbiolo, but the original owner of the Castello, which we’ve visited several times on our tours, planted a plot of Pinot Noir, his favorite grape, just outside the castle. This was my favorite wine with hints of strawberry and cranberry, and the best bargain of the evening! And coming in 3rd was Greywacke from the Marlborough area of New Zealand.
But when all was said and done, we all agreed that the entire lineup showed very well and each wine could stand on its own merits. For instance, consider that the Johanneshof from Austria received 94 points from the Wine Enthusiast; Shaw and Smith was one of the Top 100 Wines of Australia; and the Hamilton Russell displayed an elegant Burgundian style.
33 wine lovers experienced an extraordinary opportunity to learn more about Pinot Noir, and their own taste profile.

Author Vin Marottoli

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