The Quaran-Vine Papers #4: Pinots of Privilege

Like many “essential” workers, I have come to know quite a bit about masks and gloves, lately. Gloves are a complex topic that we talk a lot about, here, with different pros and cons:

THINGS GLOVES MAKE EASIER
- Not touching my face (prime directive, 90% success rate)
- Picking up boxes of wine (omg so much better, I’m like Spiderman)
- Protecting against an angry cat (see below)

THINGS GLOVES MAKE HARDER
- Picking up a pen (why can’t they be bigger?)
- Taking a piece of @#*% paper out of a @#*% envelope (@#&% #$)
- Petting a cat (see above)

But our topic for today’s read is Pinot Noir, and the access I temporarily have to some wines that were reserved only for restaurants. PLEASE understand that I would trade back this access in a nanosecond if it meant that my restaurant brethren could fully return to work, but for now I can offer some amazing Pinots to you:

B.C.

Blue Mountain Block Series, Okanagan Falls. The Mavety family has spent the last few years identifying which areas of their original vineyard near OK Falls (one of the only own-rooted, ungrafted sites in the province) made the most distinct statements of Pinot Noir, and this is the maiden vintage of those terroir-driven bottlings. I have long been a fan of Blue Mountain, and I’m unsurprised to see them leading the charge towards a more Burgundian, geographic designation concept for BC (Oregon is already largely there).

Blue Mountain Pinot Noir Block 23 River Flow 2017. The prettiest Pinot from the top of the hill, light and graceful from a sandy block with almost northern exposure. Red fruited and elegant with soft tannins, lovely. 12 bottles available, $54.98 +tax

Blue Mountain Pinot Noir Block 14 Gravel Force 2017. As the name suggests, this is rocky soil with bits of clay acting as a sauce. Southwestern exposure means deeper everything: colour, body and tannin, with tangible strength and lots of layers. 12 bottles available, $54.98 +tax

Blue Mountain Pinot Noir Block 9 Wild Terrain 2017. The wild card with the most diverse aspects, steepest slopes, windiest area and sunniest part of the vineyard. This collection of extremes offers a gorgeously savoury, racy Pinot with herbs and flowers. 12 bottles available, $54.98 +tax.

 

Little Engine Pinot Noir Silver 2018, Naramata. A bunch of us “Wine Types” went up to a special tasting at the French Family’s Naramata winery a couple years ago (so gorgeous up there, sigh), where we were treated to a blind comparison of Little Engine Pinots vs. Oregonian and Californian offerings. Two things crossed my mind, 1) wow, even the cheapest tier (silver) of this house really holds up against the Yanks and 2) the contrasting choice was fairly revealing as to where Little Engine’s compass is oriented. Almost every premium BC Pinot mentions Burgundy in their marketing, either as a North Star or (more incredulously) as an analog; Little Engine is admirably happy being a West Coast Pinot, full of fruit and fun and occasional punches to the face. This 2018 is vibrant and loud with cherry and dried strawberry notes, hints of fig and herbs toward a pretty darn satisfying medium-full mouthfeel with supportive (not racy) acidity. 2 cases (of 12) available, $41.98 +tax

Martin’s Lane Pinot Noir Simes Vineyard 2015, Kelowna. Martin’s Lane has come a long way since this little offshoot of Mission Hill won its Pinot category at the Decanter World Wine Awards. Now its own winery with its own winemaker (New Zealander Shane Munn), Martin’s Lane has wisely narrowed their focus to perfecting two varieties: Riesling and Pinot Noir. Planted in 2008 and named after Mission Hill’s Wine Wiz John Simes, this vineyard near Kelowna boasts a rare northern aspect with Pinot at the top of the hill, allowing a long hang time for phenolic ripeness whilst keeping that bracing acidity that helped it beat its competitors years ago. Ripe cherries, cola and flint notes dive into a soft bath of plums and flowers. The bottle says 14% alcohol but it drinks like 12%. Quite lovely indeed. 12 bottles available, $100.98 +tax

FRANCE

Gerard Raphet Clos de la Roche Grand Cru 2016, Burgundy. The perfect way to tell 10-years-from-now you that you’re special and deserving of love. The 100-year-old rows near the top of this Grand Cru near Morey-Saint-Denis make very little juice, but what is produced is deep and earthen with hues of licorice and baking spice amongst the black cherries, the tannins are still at fighting weight but should soften enough to slip into a supporting role in a few years. Raphet is the Burgundian winemaker that other Burgundian winemakers drink, I’m discovering. 3 bottles available, $306.98 +tax

Domaine Faiveley Corton-Clos-des-Cortons-Faiveley Grand Cru Monopole 2017, Burgundy. One of the precious few Grand Cru Monopoles (whole appellation owned by one house) in existence, the Faiveley family has farmed this patch since 1873, and besides being a blessed, east-facing terroir with a reputation for making Cellar Stars, it’s also one of only two Grand Cru Monopoles that bear the name of the family (the other is DRC). The 2017 vintage was one of those rare nothing-horrible-happened years that the family calls “classic” in style, spicy cherries constrained by bracing minerality that’ll develop amazingly over the coming decade but with enough fruit to drink earlier – unlike many vintages from this cru it doesn’t drink like a wolverine who stubbed his toe. Energetic but generous. 3 bottles available, $330.98 +tax

Marquis d’Angerville Volnay 1er Cru Taillepieds 2016, Burgundy. So synonymous are the d’Angervilles with the village of Volnay that 1) you’d need to go back several centuries to find a time when they weren’t there, and 2) they’ve been farming these same vineyards so long that the grapes are now their own recognized clone of Pinot Noir, Pinot d’Angerville. The current Marquis is Guillaume d’Angerville, who took over after his father’s premature passing in 2003, and he makes the kind of Volnay that reaffirms why this is pretty much my favourite village: gorgeously textured, silken delivery with just the right balance of perfume and stank. The gamey, herbal notes are countered by opulent deep blackberry and licorice, I think we’re 5 years away from the Golden Years here but the universe wouldn’t retaliate if you gave in to your urges now. 3 bottles available, $270.98 +tax

Butterfield Corton Grand Cru 2008, Burgundy. I’ve introduced David Butterfield to you before – he’s the Canadian who trained under Jadot’s crazy druid Jacques Lardières – but I kind of hit the jackpot in both vintage and value with this amazeballs 2008 Corton, $156 would be peanuts for this Grand Cru in a new release let alone a library one (this is straight from his cellar). Taken from the tiny Pugets lieu-dit in Corton, this is an elegant, perfumed expression of the Cru with black cherries and leather taking centre stage – one need not wait for this, all engines are engaged. Doubtful that I’ll be able to get this again. 2 6-packs available, $156.98 +tax

Maison Roche de Bellene “Collection Bellenum” Beaune 1er Cru Les Grèves 2002, Burgundy. I tucked this one near the end to reward diligent readers: Bellene’s Nicolas Potel recently embarked on a new project: to liberate the cellars of his colleagues (as well as his own) and sell back-vintaged Burgundy for reasonable prices (in context, naturally). This 2002 Beaune Grèves exudes red fruits and flowers over spice and forest floor, and drinks like a dream as long as your dream involves dried cherries. I don’t expect to be able to get this again either. 9 bottles available, $119.98 +tax

USA

Lindstrom Pinot Noir Dutton Ranch 2016, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. Greg and Carol Lindstrom only produce two wines, a Napa Cab and this Sonoma Pinot, both of which are made by Celia Welch – the winemaker of Screaming Eagle peers Scarecrow and Staglin (and she was 2008 Winemaker Of The Year) – which seems like hiring Spielberg to direct your Tik Tok video but she loves the fruit these vineyards produce, the collab was her idea. Only 200 cases were made of the Dutton Ranch 2016 Pinot (in the US you can only get this at the winery) and we have the only ones that came into BC because we are very clever (usually goes to restaurants). Cherry cola and cinnamon swirl around soft cedar notes and blackberry jam with plum and pomegranate. Remarkable intensity, smooth delivery. 2 6-packs available, $118.98 +tax

Until next time, Happy Drinking!

Share: