Welcome to the fourth of six tastings, and the first red, for a back to wine basics series. Reds are a slightly different ball game, evoking the presence of tannins. These preservative like substances are found in the skins, stems, and seeds of the grapes. They provide a mouth drying feeling as though the drinkers tongue were enveloped in velvet or sand paper. In a way, tannins are the core of red wine, similar to the way that acidity is the heart of white wine. While some drinkers tend to be sensitive to them, and find the character of red wine hard to tolerate, those that can enjoy the experience red wine offers can enjoy some of the best food and wine pairings out there.
Pinot Noir is the lightest red of the six noble grapes, balancing one of the lowest levels of tannin with the most difficulty to grow. Pinot Noir can have a nice level of acidity, as well as good balance of fruit and earth. The best come from Burgundy in France, New Zealand, and Oregon, tend to have moderate alcohol, and are delicately oaked.
While the region that 2010 D’Autrefois Pinot Noir hails from is not necessarily a renowned region for the grape, it’s know for another lighter, easy going red, beaujolais. While Pinot Noir and Beaujolais’ principle grape, Gamay, are only related in passing, they do share some common fruit flavors. So can this closely located attempt strut it’s stuff, or is it just a poser?
Sight: A very dense red for a Pinot, but still on the lighter end of Pinot Noir.
Smell: Raspberries, strawberries, slight amount of smoke. A lot of cherries make up the flavor. Vaguely reminscient of a heavy beaujolais with a touch of oak.
Sip: The acid leads offs, but relaxes behind the tannins. The tannins gradually grow heavier and heavier. The wine is rather heavy. There’s a touch of oaky spice, a little gaminess, black cherry, a bit of earth. [A.B.V. 13%]
Savor: The tannins are powerful, almost overwhelmingly so, leaving primarily a note of earth with minor red fruits.
2010 D’Autrefois Pinot Noir has a lot of great Pinot flavors, but starts to drop the ball on it’s general character. It’s a rather enjoyable wine that straddles an area that might make both merlot and pinot drinkers happy, but doesn’t quite sit well in either camp. During the tastings the pinot drinkers complained it was too heavy, and the merlot folks didn’t think it was deep enough. It’s certainly worth a try, but might be a tough introduction for beginners.
Verdict: Big, bold, and red.