Tag Archives: Pinot Noir

Eric Louis Pinot Noir “Vin de France”

Cost: Average price $14

Where buy now: Solo Vino, Zipp’s, Thomas Liquors, Wine Market, The Little Wine Shoppe, Perrier Wine & Liquor

Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir

Region: France

Vintage: 2012

Eric Louis Pinot Noir

Why not spend a cold winter’s evening with several people you don’t know, on beds of yoga mats and blankets, while administering massage to your partner and drinking wine. It may seem like the set up for a swingin’ 70s “keys in the fishbowl” situation. (Perhaps in an era frought with t-top camaros, not-for-charity mustaches, and leisure suits, it may have been.) Alas in 2013, it was simply a fun and unique way to spend a couple hours with your mate and like-minded folks.

Thai Massage Date Night is the brainchild of my co-host and friend, Mary Langfield Neaton.http://bit.ly/1bzVMB4/Mary Langfield Neaton She is a certified yoga instructor who studied in Chang Mai, Thailand in massage and was looking to add another component to the class. Voila – why not add wine? In fact, let’s offer wine and food to enhance the entire sensory experience.

Our evening took place at Revolution Cycle & Fitness in the yoga studio. Mary took us through an hour and a half of Couples Thai Massage. It was fun listening to couples laugh and bicker about pressure, technique and awkwardness.

Afterward, folks helped themselves to antipasto, salad, chocolate and of course, wine! One wine served was a lovely French Pinot Noir, recommended by my pal Fred, that I was quite excited to share with everyone. A common question I receive is, “What’s your favorite Pinot Noir under $15?” Well, there’s a reason I don’t often write about tasty budget Pinots, much like I won’t often sing the praises for budget sushi or some diamond-in-the-rough one-ply toilet paper.

In France, wines are named from the regions in which they hail. Pinot Noir, is known as “Burgundy” if the wine comes from the Burgundy region of France (French spelling Bourgogne). It is a finicky grape that requires the perfect combination of skill and climate to create. A wonderful film that documents the process is called, “A Year in Burgundy”: http://www.ayearinburgundy.com/A Year in Burgundy

This Pinot Noir doesn’t hail from Burgundy; but never you mind. Let’s meet the wine maker because soon you won’t care it’s not from THE Burgundy region. Eric Louis is not only a producer, but a grower committed to organic and biodynamic viticulture in the Sancerre appellation of the Loire Valley. He also firmly believes in minimal intervention in the cellar: no altering of natural sugar and acid levels, no coloring added, little to no filtering, plus the smallest possible amounts of added sulphur dioxide. Eric makes a Sancerre Blanc and a Sancerre Rouge from 100 percent estate fruit. (Sancerre Rouge is always 100% Pinot Noir.)

Clearly, this guy is not into cutting corners, so how can he produce budget friendly Pinot? Simply, because it doesn’t hail from THE Burgundy region. It also cannot be called Sancerre Rouge. Huh? I know, a bit confusing, but hang with me, here. Eric sources the fruit from sustainable growers just outside the Sancerre appellation in eastern Loire Valley. He is able to make this wine for far less than his Sancerre, and sell large quantities of it, which in turn, augments his small, boutique operation.

So how does a Pinot Noir made by a Sancerre producer with grapes from the non-Sancerre appellation of the eastern Loire Valley taste?

Pretty… freaking… fantastic! This Pinot is light to medium bodied and is chalk full of fresh cherry and raspberry flavors. No heavy tannins here, either, as this wine doesn’t touch a splinter of oak. But this is no watered down wallflower- it has swell personality with shy earthy and stewed fruit undertones. Color me impressed. So was everyone else, ESPECIALLY when I told them the bottle retails for under $15. I believe this is one of the absolute best Pinots for the money.

After the massage portion ended, our inhibitions finally subsided. Folks stood around for over an hour chatting and drinking the wine. If more Pinot Noir had been present, I think we might have needed a fishbowl after all.

Famiglia Meschini Pinot Noir

Cost: Average price $14

Where buy now: Zipp’s Liquors, South Lyndale Liquors, Swirl My Wine, France 44, Apple Valley Liquor, Century Wines and Spirits, Tonka Bottle, The Wine Shop, Liquor Barrel Golden Valley, Richfield Liquor Store #1

Grapes: Pinot Noir

Region: Casablanca Valley, Chile

Vintage: 2010

Famiglia Meschini Pinot Noir

You know, “they” say most folks gain weight during the Summer months. “Pshaw”, I thought, “impossible”. Nope. As evident by my 8 or 9 pound Summer weight gain, it’s all too real. I know, I know, drinking hooch most every night doesn’t help the ol’ tummy. Not to mention, I should look at buying stock in the natural liver cleanser, milk thistle. At least I’m destroying my liver and cortisol-laden abs in the name of entertainment and education.

Oh, but this Summer was not all doom and gloom.

Earlier this Summer, I was fortunate to be able to taste a smattering of the new-to-market wines from Famiglia Meschini. True to The Savvy Lush form, I don’t remember sampling them all per se. Thankfully, I did keep my notes, and found a common theme: “can’t wait for them to hit stores”. I’ve written reviews of Famiglia Meschini’s Torrontes http://bit.ly/KQ9Kss/FM Wines Torrontes The Savvy Lush Review and Cabernet Sauvignon.http://bit.ly/U0tfNd/FM Wines Cabernet Reserva The Savvy Lush Review I’ve raved about their Unoaked Chardonnay and Malbec-Syrah.(So has Bill Ward but how many links can I put in this review? Do check out his blog, Decant This) FM Wines have headed West from their native Argentina for Chile to find land and vineyards to produce a couple new wines adding to their repertoire; a Pinot Noir and Carmenere. Bienvenido Chile, ‘cause this stuff has got it going on.

Let’s dive into the Pinot Noir. It hails from Chile’s Casablanca Valley near the Pacific Ocean coast. What does coastal weather have to do with good wine production? A couple things. First, Pinot Noir grapes benefit from cooler, milder climate-hence you see several Pinots from Oregon & Washington. Second, they have thin skin and thus are more susceptible to their surroundings. Coastal weather provides a more balanced climate, the weather these grapes crave for success. Extreme temperatures + harsh sunlight = yucky Pinot Noir. You are going to start seeing more budget Pinot Noir from Chile. I’ve sampled a few and they don’t truly taste like Pinot Noir to me, but are more concentrated, heavier. For my palette, I like Pinot Noir from Oregon. That said, I dare you to find a decent, budget-conscious Oregon Pinot.

The FM Pinot Noir is the smoothest Pinot I’ve had from Chile. It’s an agreeable wine that is fruit forward in the way of stewed cherries and raspberries. A tad dry on the palette, this will taste great alone or with a salad and prosciutto, perhaps a carnitas tostada, or pork chops. In fact, I think this could make for a great Thanksgiving wine with your turkey dinner. The stewed red fruit will compliment the roast turkey, cranberry sauce and all the trimmings. How’s that? One less source of stress for this year’s meal- your wine is now chosen.

I’m so excited about the news wines Famiglia Meschini are rolling! Excited is putting it mildly- downright giddy is more like it. If you are at all interested in sampling one of these wines, you’re in luck! I’ll be at Zipp’s Liquors on Sat., Sept. 15 from 4-7pm. C’mon down to say hello, and meet their wine buyer, Jeff (of Wine Geek TV fame http://www.winegeektv.com/Wine Geek TV ). This is a great environment to sip, sample and hang. If you want to buy a bottle or two, feel free as we’ll have special sale prices during the 3 hours.

DeLoach Pinot Noir

Cost: Average price $13.99

Where buy now: Cellars Wines & Spirits for $11.99

Grapes: Pinot Noir

Region: Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California

Vintage: 2009

DeLoach Pinot Noir

So many people have asked me for a budget Pinot Noir recommendation. I’ve tried a few Chilean Pinots, and they’ve been, well, “meh”. Since they don’t exactly taste like Pinot Noir to me, I think they’re a decent value. I’ll be honest and say I’m a California & Oregon Pinot Noir fan. That’s my own palate preference with this wine varietal. [That is, until my good friends at Familia Meschini come out with their Pinot.]

I’ve visited the DeLoach vineyard, located in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma, California. Typical of the Russian River Valley, this winery creates some primo Pinot Noirs, and with a price tag to match. So, when I saw a DeLoach Pinot Noir on sale for $11.99, I thought I’d give it a go. Now, a $12 price for Pinot is a bit like seeing a new Mercedes for $4000. However, with the DeLoach name on the bottle, I figured it wouldn’t be entirely useless swill.

I was right.

Now, this isn’t a $40+ bottle of Pinot Noir. It just isn’t as refined as others. In fact, you could say it’s a little rough around the edges. But that’s OK, because sometimes we like it a little rough.

Until then, I think this DeLoach Pinot at $12 and change is a great value. The grittier, rougher Pinots may just excite you in a way you never thought it could. It may not rock your world, but it also won’t rock your wallet like one quadruple its price.