April 12, 2011

Chilean Pinot Noir: I Need Further Proof

I was recently fortunate enough to sample a couple bottles of Pinot Noir from Chile. Pinot Noir from Chile? What the hell, you ask in amazement? Yes. It is true. While Chile has had much success with varieties such as Carmenere, Cabernet, and Sauvignon Blanc. More recently, Chilean winemakers have taken a stab at Pinot Noir as Chile's new variety. Pinot Noir is a fickle grape; when it's made well, it can be the most sublime wine on earth, when it's not...well....
The 2009 Tabali Pinot Noir Reserva is just not a bottle of wine I'd personally want to drink again. The wine is terribly over-oaked, to the point that the taste of charred wood permeates the mouth and subsumes any other flavor or textural sensation. I suppose it is actually Pinot Noir, but nothing about the smell, taste, or texture of this wine speaks "Pinot" to me. I opened the bottle for a mixed crowd and several people really liked the wine. The wine retails for around $15.
The other bottle I tried was the 2009 Cono Sur Pinot Noir Vision. This single vineyard Pinot comes from the heralded Colchagua Valley in Chile. Like the other Chilean Pinot above, the wine is obviously quite young and perhaps judgment should be reserved. That being said, this Cono Sur is a slight step up from the Tibali. I'm still not sure what is "Pinot" about this wine. It tastes rather non-descript, a heady dose of red fruit and wood dominate the palate. The wine also has a woody-hemp like flavor profile that is slightly odd, to say the least. I have no problem with hemp, just not a flavor I look for in my Pinot. This wine also retails in the $15 range.

While these are just two samples, and both relatively low-priced options, neither of the wines make me want to be a big buyer of Chilean Pinot Noir at the moment. They may appeal to some drinkers, especially given the price range, and they are probably fine wines for a crowd at a party. However, I don't think any devotee of the Pinot Noir grape, myself included, would take these wines too seriously.

Disclaimer: these two bottles were given to me to sample by the Thomas Collective.

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