Part 1: Tale of Two Pinot Noirs
One of the pleasures of those who love Pinot Noir is blind tasting various producers and deciding if they are Old World or New World, and then trying to pinpoint the producer’s exact location. If you have not played this "game" before, one of the supposed marks of an "Old World" Pinot Noir is that the fruit is more in the background, while in the "New World" it is more in the forefront.
Blind tasting New World Pinot Noir and guessing the AVA revolves around placing it in Sonoma Coast, Central Coast, Oregon, and other West Coast regions. Recently Susan Doyle, winemaker at MacMurray Ranch in California, sent me their new releases of Pinot Noir, both 2007. One was MacMurray Ranch 2007 Central Coast ($23) and the other Sonoma Coast 2007 ($28).
In the tasting, I found both wines similar in many respects, as the wines had the same dark ruby purple color with a pale purple rim and watery white meniscus. On the nose the wines were similar, yet with some differences. The Central Coast had a medium+ aroma of chocolate, raspberry, brandied cherry, licorice, and blueberry with a similar palate. The Sonoma Coast 2007 was also medium intensity, with black fruit, a stronger anise aroma, and just "more" everything on the palate, more black jammy fruit, spice, cinnamon, and vanilla. It has all the ingredients to evolve with time in the bottle. Both were delicious and decidedly "New World" in style. The wines would pair with the same dishes, such as salmon, or pork in a fruit marinade, and would also be delicious paired with a composed summer salad.
The wines represented quality production, especially as the 2007 harvest was smaller than usual. As is typical in quality winemaking, the grapes were harvested in the early morning (3 AM) to ensure that the fruit was kept cool for fermentation. As one can observe from the color, the grapes were de-stemmed and cold soaked prior to fermentation for optimal extraction of color and flavor.
Part 2: MacMurray Pinot Gris 2008
This is an excellent wine to pair with white fish or composed salads, or as a refreshing aperitif on a warm summer day. The nose is a heady mix of white flowers, yellow flowers, and stone fruit such as firm peach and apricot. The grapes are whole-cluster pressed and fermented for 14-21 days in stainless steel.
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