Mon. May 23rd, 2022


In the old days, Europeans who referred to us as “New World” criticized Pinot Noirs for being too dark, too alcoholic, often too tannic, and lacking the finesse of the prototype, red wine red.

After tasting many red burgundy from 2020 over the past few weeks, I venture to suggest that the tables have turned. The 2020 red wine reds I encountered this month during London’s Covid-shrunken Burgundy week were deeply colored, often quite sweet, more vigorous than wine reds and – thanks to a dry growing season that thickened, albeit admirably yielding healthy grapes – rather colder than usual.

When I was unable to go to Burgundy at the last minute, my Dijon-based colleague Matthew Hayes inherited my carefully crafted roster to taste 2020s at some of the top domains and he was passionate about the quality he encountered. At the best addresses, 2020 has definitely yielded some memorable wines of both colors.

Still, the wines on display in London are a notch less than the most sought-after producer goods, and although there were some beautiful 2020 white burgundies on display, I found some of the reds to be just too fat and sweet to put in my (possibly biased) idea of ​​the red bordeaux paradigm. (The extremely challenging, cool – and small – vintage of 2021 will almost certainly produce wines that are more like the traditional, fresh Burgundian stereotype.)

Meanwhile, because I am a lover of red wine red and Pinot Noir in all its forms, I kept tasting Pinots from all over the world and noticed that they are getting paler and paler, fresher and fresher and increasingly delicate. Thanks to climate change, the grapes ripen much faster than before, which means it can be difficult to limit alcohol levels wherever they are grown. But I would argue there was a real evolution in the style of wine made by the top exponents of Pinot Noir outside of France. Their wines are so much more subtle than they were before.

I just searched my tasting notebook for top-scoring non-Burgundy Pinot Noirs from the past three years, with the expectation of being able to name a handful of exciting manufacturers. In fact, I found over 100 examples of wines that I rated at least 17 out of 20. (I’m an average scorer and to put it in context, of the 280 2020 red burgundies I’ve tasted in London so far, I’ve only given about 20 a score of at least 17.)

Looking for examples of fine Pinots produced outside of France, I was almost spoiled for choice with finding candidates from California, Oregon, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Germany. Because Pinot Noir is a grape that ripens early, it needs to be grown in fairly cool parts of these places to develop enough interesting flavors so that the growing season is not too short.

In many cases, this has meant relying on vineyards with a strong coastal influence – the Pacific in the first three on the list above and the South Atlantic in South Africa – or the relatively high sites that some (though not not all) produce Australia’s best Pinots. Germany, meanwhile, has benefited from warmer summers that now make its Pinot Noir grapes (often called Spätburgunder) fully ripe, as well as from more sophisticated winemaking.

My list of recommended Pinot growers below lists just a few of those that I think can now offer something of interest to those who crave red wine red wine before climate change. With travel restrictions what it is, I had to limit the list to those wines that find their way to the UK, which undoubtedly excludes very worthy American examples, as the American market tends to be much more attractive to American wine producers than the more penny. -knit British one.

While those outside France can carefully choose where to plant their Pinot Noir vineyards, growers are stuck in Burgundy. The managed name regulations have demarcated the region – and the complex web of climate inside – a century or more ago. I regularly read reports by general commentators on the effects of global warming on French wine producers who flexibly suggest that vignerons move to cooler climates; it is not so easy in a country whose wines are sold on the basis of geography.

Consequently, the richness of the 2020 vintage in Burgundy, preceded by two other hot-to-hot growing seasons in 2019 and 2018, provides an opportunity for the best Pinot Noir producers outside France to combat the finesse of their wines.

What about price comparisons? It can be said with certainty that top red wine red prices have buzzed off the scale – if not at the cellar door, then definitely on retailers and fine wine retailers’ lists. As for the best non-Burgundy Pinots, there is no mature secondary market for them, so release prices remain fairly stable, and there are – for the moment – few producers asking really stupid prices. Yet many of these wines are made in small quantities (like almost all red wine red) and have a sharp local following, which means that few are exactly cheap.

In terms of value recommendations, I find myself repeating the advice I gave for the 2019 vintage, an even warmer year than 2020. When you have a warm growing season in Burgundy, the difference in quality between wines is from the largest and the least large. sites tend to shrink, so probably the biggest bargains are among the lower denominations made by the best producers. Such wines – for example Burgundy Rouge, or wines labeled with the name of a village – may be cheaper than the most exalted non-French Pinot Noirs.

British traders now selling 2020 burgundy make much of the remarkable level of freshness in the red, despite the grapes grown during a relentlessly hot summer. (Harvest dates were extraordinarily early – many grapes were picked before the end of August – but fortunately the burst in spring was also early, so the total growing season was long enough.) Some of this freshness may be due, not to natural acidity not. retained as the grapes ripened, but to the fact that some of the grapes began to shrink at the end of this hot summer, so that everything in it, including the acidity that remained, was concentrated. It will be interesting to monitor the effect of this as the wines age.

I hate generalization, but offer two pieces of advice. Take 2020 white burgundy very seriously. And it’s time to dump her and move on. Pinot Noir, which is growing outside Burgundy.

A far-from-exhaustive list.

California

  • Miershoopplase

  • At the Good Climate

  • story

  • Coastal Domain

  • Deer

  • Kutch

  • Kuslyn

  • Peay

  • Raen

  • Storm

Oregon

Chile

  • Clos des Fous

  • Undurraga TH

Australia

  • Bindi

  • Curly Plat

  • Jane eyre

  • Hoddles creek

  • Oakridge

  • Shaw + Smith

  • Tolpoel

New Zealand

  • Brand Cottage

  • Devotus

  • Dog point

  • Feltonweg

  • Gray stone

  • Kusuda

  • Schubert

South Africa

  • Crystal

  • Kershaw

  • Newton Johnson

Germany

  • Enderle & Moll

  • by Schubert

  • Oliver Zeter

  • ornamental iron

Tasting notes on Purple Pages of JancisRobinson.com. More stockholders of Wine-searcher.com

Follow Jancis on Twitter @JancisRobinson

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