Once Upon a Pinot Noir…

by Richard Harvey

Bloody Pinot Noir! Elusive, tricky Pinot Noir!

This crafty little grape has become even more elusive these days as the French temple of Pinot Noir, Burgundy, has become SO expensive! But this little trickster of a grape variety can’t elude us as easily as that! Metrovino has mined areas such as the Auvergne and the Languedoc for new sources of affordable French PN, but our elusive quarry has also been found hiding in the most unexpected area of northeastern France - Alsace! And this will not be the last French Pinot surprise we have for you either!

Oddly, it was a first taste of a Pinot Noir made by the Schoech family in a Parisian bistro that launched this particular chase. Renowned for beautiful, aromatic white wines, Alsace has one red grape, but what a lovely discovery that it is Pinot Noir!! Domaine Schoech makes this cuvée in “pièces”, 228 litre barrels made of oak (“chêne”) that has been stripped of its flavouring dominance by multiple years of use. Simply put, these oak barrels, rather than flavouring the wine, have allowed the fruit of the grape variety to emerge enhanced, not suffocated. We flipped the normal order of things around and started with an Alsace producer’s red wine (but we now also sell their excellent white wines).

Pinot Noir vineyard.jpeg

Produced in a cool climate (which makes Pinot Noir vines particularly happy), this is some of France’s best value Pinot Noir. When I first encountered Alsace Pinot Noir (sometime during the Paleozoic era), it was a pleasing dark quasi-rosé, wonderful when consumed with grumbeersalat (herbed potato salad) alongside a knack (an upscale Alsace frankfurter). There are now many producers of full-fledged, red Pinot Noir to go alongside seasonal morel mushroom risotto or a fine slice of duck magret.

Oh - the tall flute bottle? Oh yeah, nobody drinks wines from bottles associated with sweet white wines. But I have one question: what is the problem? I won’t go into a diatribe here on the virtues of naturally sweet wines, but please, please accept that a bottle shape does NOT determine a wine’s style any more than the colour of its label. This is a DRY red wine, and if you deny the truth that your palate is telling you just that and find this wine even remotely sweet, go taste Apothic red or a Cupcake wine (in “dry” wine shaped bottles).

Now a question: In our sensitive times, would you really want to shun a beautiful French Pinot Noir because the appearance of the bottle was not to your liking..? A Pinot Noir this good? At this price? It’s up to you...