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New World Pinot Noir Featuring Bouchaine Vineyards @BouchaineWines


Minstrel and Muse #WineMuse Podcast 
New World Pinot Noir Show - Part 2
"The uncertainty of life is there in front of you in the glass." 
- Michael Richmond, winemaker Bouchaine Vineyards

This month we have focused on New World Pinot Noir. Specifically, Pinot Noir from Carneros in California, Oregon Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley and a Pinot Noir from Chile. We are dividing the podcasts into three episodes. My posts with tasting notes are also in three parts.

We are exploring the aesthetics of Pinot Noir and the cultivation and winemaking processes with Francois Lurton of Hacienda Araucano in Chile, Michael Richmond of Bouchaine Vineyards in California and Steve Lutz of Lenné Estate in Oregon. These three interviews are part of our continuing Winemaker Conversations Series.

This is Part 2 of our featured #WineMuse podcast show. Our discussion of New World Pinot Noir had to include California. We were fortunate to enjoy a tasting of three Napa Valley Bouchaine Vineyards wines from the Carneros region as well as an engaging conversation with the winemaker, Michael Richmond.

* Listen to the podcast New World Pinot Noir Part 2, Featuring Bouchaine Vineyards.

Bouchaine Vineyards is a 40 year pioneer in the California wine industry, Michael Richmond founded Acacia Wines in the Carneros district of Napa Valley and now makes wine for Bouchaine. He brings the history and his love of wine education, experience, and adventure.

I invite you to listen to our interview with Michael Richmond - he's an inspirational winemaker and I find his passion and philosophy for wine contagious. Sincere thanks to Michael Richmond and Bouchaine Vineyards.

*Note: Glassware used in these wine tastings: Riedel Pinot Noir - link at bottom.

"...depths that only a winemaker of his skill and experience has divined."
- William Pollard Jr.

Tasting Notes

When we interviewed Mr. Richmond, we asked him in what order we should taste these three wines. I followed his suggestion and have listed the wines in order of tasting. 

1. Bouchaine Napa Valley Carneros 2012 Mariafeld Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir

*Note: The Bacchus Collection is intended primarily for wine club members. They make many wines exclusively for their wine club. Worth checking out.

**Note: Mariafeld is a Clone/Variant of Pinot Noir. It’s a selection of pinot noir from Switzerland, with an unusual cluster morphology (thick skins, open clusters); not very pinot-like in terms of the way the grapes look.  Probably selected to be resistant to rot in wet, cold Switzerland, and to make darker/richer wines in a cold place.  - Bouchaine Associate Winemaker Andrew Brooks.

Color: Clear, pale ruby.
Nose: Soft cherry, pomegranate, orange peel, edged with spice, after 10 minutes smoky rose petal and dried cherry appeared.
Palate: Nice acid backbone, surprisingly dry on the tongue, cherry tart, medium bodied, spicy leather on the finish. After 10 minutes a finesse of body and flavor, acid and tannin toned down, nice tingle on the gums, strawberry lingered on the medium finish. At 20 minutes good weight and supple body, candied black cherry, fine tacky tannin on the tongue. Desired a serving of Beef Carpacio or a lightly seasoned rare New York steak.
1.5 Hours: Little changed.
2 hours: A little more fruit mid-palate, not as dry.
2.5 hours: A little earthy.
3 hours: This is Pinot Noir, what I think of as Pinot Noir. Hint of mushroom, red fruit, graphite, bacon fat, orange twist and a sense of depth to the nose. Nice weight, rounded, savory red fruit, tannin and acid provided a happy finish of earthy raspberry with an orange twist.

Day two: Orange rind, melon, graphite, dried raspberry and rose petals on the nose. Fluid, cherry, very dry with dried strawberry, tacky tannin on the gums, cheeks, tongue and the top-palate. Enjoyable big finish with red fruits, a nice juicy steak or slice of roast duck would be lovely. Begging for food and to be consumed. Recommended.

Vineyard Name: Estate Block 23
ABV: 14.1%
Closure: Natural cork
SRP: $40
Production: 266 cases
Sample provided by the winery

2. Bouchaine Napa Valley Carneros 2012 Gee Vineyard Pinot Noir

*Note: The Bacchus Collection is intended primarily for wine club members. They make many wines exclusively for their wine club. Worth checking out.

Color: Pale, earthy plum.
Nose: Earthy strawberry, note of cream,
Palate: Pleasing palate, sophisticated mouth feel, strawberry, delicate earth, friendly acidity, fresh finish. Good opening wine before food or pair with mild, soft, creamy cheese and fresh bread.
After 20-30 minutes: Strawberry, fluid, gently dry, tingle on the gums, with orange skin, a lingering delicate strawberry finish.
35 minutes: Bigger nose, candied cherry, cola, pencil shaving, coffee, tobacco. Solid mouth feel, sour cherry, orange, fine tannin on the tongue, nice spike of acid mid-palate, fresh strawberry in to the bright finish.
After one hour: Tantalizing nose, layered, red fruits, candied quality rolled out of the glass and caressed my cheeks, fresh tobacco wrapped in Mandarin orange peel in the background, a pleasing earthiness tied it together. Pinot lovers nose. Red fruits, rich back-palate along the cheeks and below the ears, fresh creaminess, cassis with rose water, dry mid-palate, roof of mouth and tongue happy raspberry and orange zest with a little gravel into the finish.
At 2.5 hours: Drink me, please.

Day two: Sour cherry, raspberry, strawberry, tasty and lively with modest tannin on the tongue, root-beer and spice with raspberry cream on the finish. An enjoyable contemplative quality. Good pairing with fried steak. Recommended.

Vineyard: Gee
ABV: 13.9%
Closure: Natural cork
SRP: $60
Production: 272 cases
Sample provided by the winery

3. Bouchaine Carneros 2010 Pinot Noir

Color: Blood ruby.
Nose: Soft black cherry, raspberry background, hint of celery, white pepper.
Palate: Cherry slide across the palate, fine tannin, fresh back palate, satisfying in the mouth into the finish. Integrated and tasty at opening. My speed.
At 10 minutes: Integrated and tasty, fluid, red fruit finish. Drink me. Pairing with Shepherds pie.
20 Minutes: Color is bloodier/darker, focused nose with spicy cherry/raspberry (very cool), lovely flavors and texture, cherry pie, raspberry compote, fine tannin, bright top palate. Delicious.
At 1 hour 10 minutes: Candied black cherry, licorice, spice and crème brulee on the nose. Candied, creamy down the palate, cherry torte, licorice, focused and delicious, long finish. "Drink me now."

Day two: Rich earthiness, focused nose with strawberry, candied cherry, gingerbread and pepper mill. Fluid with savory fruit, cherry, boysenberry, raspberry, fine tannin on the tongue, some liveliness on the finish. Wonderful sipping wine and agreeable with lightly seasoned rib-eye. This wine was finished on day two, because it tasted so good.

Thoughts: This 2010 Bouchaine Pinot Noir would be a wonderful and positive experience for first time Pinot Noir drinkers. Also wonderful wine for people who want a sophisticated, layered, bigger red wine experience. An excellent choice for restaurants as well, since the wine was wonderful at opening all the way through the second day. Great QPR. Strongly Recommended.

ABV: 13.8%
Closure: Natural cork
SRP: $35
Production: 9,798 cases
Sample provided by the winery

Bouchaine Vineyards

1075 Buchli Station Road

Napa, CA 94559

(800) 654-WINE
(707) 252-9065

*NoteI used the Riedel Vinum XL Pinot Noir Glass for the wine tastings featured in our New World Pinot Noir series. The shape of this glass enhanced the aromas and flavors of the Pinot Noir I was tasting. Pinot Noir is a delicate wine with delicate aromas and flavors. The Vinum XL glass enhances the sensory experience of Pinot Noir. Strongly Recommended.

What did I learn? 

Perhaps a blended Pinot Noir is more my speed. Blending allows the winemaker to showcase and express greater complexity in a wine. However, if you want to understand a place and the winemaker, then bottlings like the 2012 Mariafeld and 2012 Gee Vineyard are essential experiences. My impression is that the 2012 vintages are still young and will undoubtedly benefit from time in bottle. I would drink the 2010 now and hold the 2012 for at least another year. Well done.

I encourage you to listen to our interview with Michael Richmond, he shared a lot of his passion and philosophy about making wine. He entered the depths that only a winemaker of his skill and experience has divined. Inspiring.

Sincere thank you to Bouchaine Vineyards and Michael Richmond for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak to us about his Pinot Noir.

We continue to explore New World Pinot Noir in Oregon in Part 3.




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