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Inexpensive doesn’t have to mean bad

You are excused for thinking that “good, inexpensive Pinot Noir” is a contradiction in terms, for I can prove otherwise.

The fact that this grape has mutated to more than 1,000 clones for the vineyard owner to chose from, or that it likes cool growing areas that are prone to diseases like powdery mildew, and fanleaf, do make it a challenge, and the end result is often fairly high consumer prices.

Pinot Noir is as happy with tuna, salmon and chicken as it is with duck, pork, and beef, and to cap it all off Mother Nature has loaded this grape with far more resvertrol than any other variety.

Not only does it protect the vine and fruit from disease, but reports have been written on the ability of this strong antioxidant to protect against Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, cancer, heart disease, and even the common cold.

Last Friday evening I was hesitant to order a glass of Pinot Noir as I knew that the establishment I was in had just changed from one of my favourites to one that you can buy in our shops for a reasonable $13.40.

I asked the bartender if he would mind pouring me a taste as it had been some time since I had tried it. I was quite bowled over as this is, in my opinion, the most temperamental of wines to get right inexpensively.

The colour was bright, clear and moderately translucent and the nose immediately told me through its high-pitched aromas of red berries, and herbs, and soft warm character, that I was in for a treat.

This Undurraga “Aliwen” Pinot Noir 2010 — Maipo Valley — Chile should very much please fans of this versatile grape. Robert Parker and the International Wine Cellar both rated it a most respectable 87/100. A perfect transition wine as we move from summer whites, to cold weather reds.

Still in Chile, and with another winery, that like Undurraga grows its fruit sustainably, I have tried our Veramonte Reserve Pinot Noir 2010 that tops out at $15.50. Here is what Robert Parker has to say: “Medium ruby in colour, it delivers a pleasant perfume of cherry blossom, spice box, strawberry and raspberry. Light to medium bodied in the glass, it has varietal character, good balance and a fruity finish.”

Over the past four vintages, Parker, the Wine Spectator, and the Wine Enthusiast, have all rated it a consistent 88/100.

It takes a few years before a vine can produce complex fruit, and so vineyard owners are faced with the quandary of what to do for this start-up period. The Catena family of Argentine fame uses these younger vines for a range of inexpensive wines that they call Alamos, and we bring in all the usual suspects; Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bonarda, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier, all priced at $12.50.

For $14.70 we have their Alamos Malbec Seleccion (Reserve) and Alamos Seleccion Pinot Noir 2010. These young vines are grown high in the foothills of the Andes in the newly planted sections of top Catena vineyards such as Adrianna, Domingo and Altarmira Sur.

Remember that vineyards are replanted in sections, because, if all the vines were pulled out and replaced at one time, the owner would have to take a long holiday from wine making. Alamos Seleccion Pinot Noir offers fruit-forward aromas of fresh, ripe cherries, strawberries and blackberries. It is elegant (a good Pinot Noir trait), fresh and well balanced, costing $14.70.

Many folks enjoy their Pinot Noir at a slightly cool temperature; say about 65 degrees Fahrenheit, which 20 minutes in the fridge should accomplish.

Michael Robinson is Director of Wine at Burrows, Lightbourn Ltd. He can be contacted at mrobinson@bll.bm or on 295-0176. Burrows, Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton

(Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George's (York Street, 297-0409). A selection of their wines, beers and spirits are available on line at www.wineonline.bm

Pinot Noir grapes

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Published October 11, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated October 10, 2013 at 8:35 pm)

Inexpensive doesn’t have to mean bad

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