Take a Look at Chilean Pinot Noir
Should You Give Chilean Pinot Noir a Try?
I was approached recently by the Wines of Chile marketing agency with an offer to sample a couple of Chilean Pinot Noirs. I have limited experience with Chilean wines and have had mixed results with the wines I have previously purchased. I was intrigued to give the wines a try. Since you’re reading this, you know I enjoyed them!
I was provided two Pinot Noirs to sample. Both retail for $20 or less. Both are from the Casablanca Valley, close to the Pacific Ocean. I was looking forward to trying them with a meal!
Not Just Any Pinot Noir
When it comes to Pinot Noir, I’m pretty choosy. I love Burgundy from France, but wow, painful on the wallet! It’s not unusual to pay $50 for a Village level Burgundy, forget 1er and Grand Cru. California? The vast majority of California Pinot’s are just too ripe and often too oaky for me. Meiomi, not my cup of tea. I lean heavily on Oregon for my Pinot Noir choices. The combination of the cooler climate and more winemakers with an eye to restraint brings a much better chance of a bottle I’ll love. Still, there are precious few decent Oregon Pinot’s for $20 or less.
Can Chile fill that empty spot of $20 and under Pinot Noir worthy of a spot at your dinner table?
Alto de Casablanca Ritual Pinot Noir 2014 ($20 retail, sample provided)
- Cool, foggy location close to the Pacific ocean with a Mediterranean climate
- Partial whole stem inclusion
- Fermented with “wild” yeasts
- Aged 12 months in French oak, only 30% new (thank goodness!)
Immediately on opening the bottle, I was impressed. For a suggested price of $20, a wine that shows real Pinot Noir character.
Eye: Clear, transparent, transitioning to a dark center. Purple tone overall, definite purple edge, showing a bit of youth.
Nose: Stinky at opening, don’t let it put you off. After being open for an hour, stink is gone, dark cedar notes in the background, pure strawberry notes on the nose. Very nice.
Mouth: Not overly acidic, definitely has some tannins, though not intrusive. Nice red fruit, palate cleansing.
Vina Echeverria Family Wines Pinot Noir 2013 ($14 retail, sample provided)
The Echeverria Family Wines Pinot Noir also comes with an encouraging set of notes:
- Grower’s Single Vineyard source
- Ungrafted vines from pre-phylloxera French rootstock
- 75% of the wine aged in French oak barrels for 6 months
For under $20. Impressive.
Eye: Clear, transparent, garnet color with a warm tint.
Nose: Just a touch stinky at first opening. After being open 30 minutes, there is a bit of deep cedar box alongside cherry notes.
Mouth: Bright red fruit, with just a touch of tannins, a bit soft on acidity, but only in comparison to the Ritual Pinot Noir.
Wines at the Dinner Table
I love pairing Pinot Noir with the earthy flavors of fall vegetables and simply grilled meats. It’s still warm enough outside in Minnesota to grill easily, no snow shoveling required!
I enjoyed both wines with lamb chops, mashed grilled butternut squash and grilled brussels sprouts. I wasn’t looking for one wine to be a better match, but just to compare and contrast. Both wines had the acidity and tannins to stand up to the rich lamb chops. They also had that curious lightness of good Pinot Noir that avoided the wine overpowering the vegetables.
So should you give Chilean Pinot Noir a try? Definitely! I know I’ll be on the lookout for them in my local shops.
Both wines were provided as samples from the Wines of Chile. All opinions are my own.