Minstrel and Muse #WineMuse Podcast
New World Pinot Noir Show - Part 1
"...the delights of Pinot Noir - without a physical confrontation."
William Pollard Jr.
This month on our WineMuse Podcast we have explored the topic of New World Pinot Noir. Ten years ago Pinot Noir became hugely popular in the United States. You can blame the movie "Sideways" for helping emphasize this trend.
Pinot Noir is associated with the Burgandy region of France and is also a primary variety used in sparkling wine production in Champagne. Recently, other regions of the world have gained a reputation for quality Pinot noir, this includes the Willamette Valley of Oregon, the Carneros, Central Coast and Russian River AVAs of California and the Central Otago, Martinborough and Marlborough wine regions of New Zealand.
Linda and I decided to focus on New World Pinot Noir from Carneros in California, Oregon Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley and a Pinot Noir from Chile. The podcasts are divided into three episodes. My posts with tasting notes are also in three parts.
It has been exciting to explore Pinot Noir, the aesthetics, the cultivation and winemaking processes with Francois Lurton of Hacienda Araucano in Chile, Michael Richmond of Bouchaine Vineyards in California and Steve Lutz of Lenne Estate in Oregon. These three interviews are part of our continuing Winemaker Conversations Series.
* Listen to Part 1 New World Pinot Noir Podcast - interview with Francois Lurton.
Why do wine enthusiasts covet Pinot Noir?
Pinot Noir is a difficult variety to cultivate. The grape's tendency to produce tightly packed clusters makes it susceptible to several diseases that require diligent canopy management. Thin skinned it requires careful hand picking at harvest. With low levels of phenolic compounds it tends to produce lightly colored, medium bodied low tannin wines that can often go through dumb phases with uneven and unpredictable aging. Labor intensive to cultivate, and light in color as a wine, why is Pinot Noir considered to produce some of the finest wines in the world?
Pinot Noir drinkers take their wine serious and personal. I learned this first hand when I met a Pinot Noir lover from Alaska. At the time I expressed my lack of interest in Pinot Noir and my preference for Washington wine. Heated words were exchanged and the conversation deteriorated quickly. I had to walk away before the interaction became physical. It left me puzzled. Why did he take his wine preference so personal? What's so great about Pinot Noir?
I finally had my own Pinot Noir epiphany two years ago. It surprised me and caught me off guard. With a greater appreciation for Pinot Noir, it was exciting to explore New World expressions of this mercurial grape. You are encouraged to listen to our interviews with our winemaker guests as they share deep personal sentiments about Pinot Noir. It would make me happy if I have helped guide someone to the delights of Pinot Noir - without a physical confrontation.
Part 1 - Featuring Hacienda Araucano Reserva Pinot Noir
“Araucano” is the name given by the Spaniards to Chile’s indigenous people.
The Hacienda Araucano Reserva range consists of various varietals : two white varieties, Chardonnay and Sauvignon and four reds, Pinot Noir, Carmenere, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. François and Jacques Lurton found their potential vineyard site while working as consultants for the San Pedro vineyards. The first bottles of Araucano were released in 1997.
In 2000, François bought 200 hectares of land in the valley of Colchagua. The influence of the ocean climate moderates the heat that comes from the valley. The difference of temperature during the day and during the night allows the grapes to reach exceptional levels of maturity. The valley is divided into particularly varied microclimates, which eventually allows for greater complexity of wine.
Pinot Noir - François’ favorite wine.
Born and bred in Bordeaux, his passion for New World Pinot Noirs and the conviction that Chile is one of the countries with a rare potential for this variety has spurred François to experiment with producing one of his own. François has always had a passion for New World Pinot Noirs, particularly those from North America and New Zealand.
He decided to plant Pinot Noir in Chile as it shares a climate similar to that of California. This is an approach, that François wants to develop further. Pinot Noir is a very delicate variety that, in this case, produces a wine with lots of sweetness that is very fresh, fruity and easy to drink. The first bottle of Aruacano Pinot Noir was the 2006 vintage.
|Map - Vineyard sites.|
Pacific Influence - It was in Chile, after starting to make wines to the west of the Colchagua Valley and Casablanca, that Francois Lurton finally discovered the ideal terroirs, influenced by the Pacific, with misty mornings, very cool nights and plenty of rain in spring.
He noticed that by planting the vines on hillsides, he could choose the exposure he wanted and shorten the time the vines are exposed to the sun. All of this was similar to the conditions west of Napa Valley, Russian River or Carneros. The vines are still young and Chile does not yet have the same experience with fine Pinot Noirs as California or Oregon. As I learned by speaking with Francois, it does have the potential.
The intent behind this Pinot Noir is to preserve the varieties freshness and fruitiness. The result is a wine that reflects the soul of the terroir. A wealth of potential for Pinot Noirs that is yet to be discovered.
Linda and I tasted the 2013 Araucano Pinot Noir live on the podcast. You are invited to listen to our conversation with Francois Lurton and our impressions of his 2013 Hacienda Araucano Pinot Noir.
Glassware used in these wine tastings: Riedel Pinot Noir - link at bottom.
Tasting Notes 2013 Hacienda Araucano Reserva Pinot Noir
Color: Pretty candy red and purple.
Nose: Perfumed, earthy strawberry.
Palate: Initially acidic, broadened and softened over 20 minutes, yielding fresh strawberry, spice, medium body. Lovely wine at this price. Wow great value. Food ready. Think restaurants and food at home. Turkey and ham.
At one hour: Lovely fresh earth, mushroom, dark strawberry flesh, candied, pencil on the nose. Lovely. Talking strawberry, almost tart, light tannin, note of leather, lingering strawberry, hint of coffee on the fresh finish.
At 1.5 hours: Strawberry baby! Pleasantly dry, nothing over the top, hint of earthiness, cola and raspberry behind the strawberry. Relaxed, fresh and tasty. Drink me with friends and food.
Day two: Red berry, smoky, soft orange peel nose. Good mouth feel, strawberry, Bing cherry flesh, earthy note in background, soft tannin, light acid, balanced and muy drinkable.
Thoughts: Friendly fun. Ready to drink at open. Serve gently chilled with food or drink next summer. Aromatic and flavorful wine, think Salmon, Duck and especially Turkey this time of year. Terrific value at this price and Recommended. Tempted to Strongly Recommend this wine based on the shear value and pleasure it delivered. Not a sophisticated Pinot Noir, but full of New World fruit flavors and spot on finish. Buy it and you decide
Closure: Screw cap
Sample provided by Winesellers, Ltd.
Made by: Hacienda Araucano
Chile and Wine FAQ
- The number of wineries has grown from 12 in 1995 to over 70 in 2005.
- Chile has 14 principal valley regions. Bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Andes mountain range to the east.
- Chile is now the fifth largest exporter of wines in the world, and the ninth largest producer. The climate has been described as midway between that of California and France. The most common grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carmenère. So far Chile has remained free of phylloxera louse which means that the country's grapevines do not need to be grafted.
- The vineyards of Chile fall between the latitudes of 32 and 38° s which, in the Northern Hemisphere would be the equivalent of southern Spain and North Africa. However the climate in Chile's wine regions is much more temperate than those regions, comparing more closely to California and Bordeaux. Overall, it is classified as a Mediterranean climate with average summer temperatures of 59-64°F (15-18°C) and potential highs of 86°F (30°C).
- There are four seasons in most of the country: summer (December to February), autumn (March to May), winter (June to August), and spring (September to November).
- Chile has benefited from an influx of foreign investment and winemaking talent that began in the late 20th century. Flying winemakers introduced new technology and styles that helped Chilean wineries produce more internationally recognized wine styles. One such improvement was the use of oak. Historically Chilean winemakers had aged their wines in barrels made from rauli beechwood which imparted to the wine a unique taste that many international tasters found unpleasant.
- Chile's 2002 census reported a population of 15 million people.
- http://www.winesofchile.org - Wines of Chile
- http://www.chilean-wine.com/chileanwinecountry - Chilean Wine Country
- Radio Usach Live Stream - University of Santiago, Chile
Thank you to our show sponsor, Winsellers Ltd. They did a phenomenal job of helping us select some of their best wines under $20. Special thank you to Francois Lurton of Hacienda Araucano for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak to us about his passion for Pinot Noir.
You can continue our Pinot Noir exploration in Part 2 and Part 3.
- Part 2 New World Pinot Noir, Featuring Michael Richmond, Bouchaine Vineyards, California.
- Part 3 New World Pinot Noir, Featuring Steve Lutz, Lenne Estate, Oregon.