Saturday, January 14, 2012

Getting The Most Out Of Your Pinot Noir

Anyone who's fallen under the spell of good Pinot Noir knows well the cost of infatuation.  Once you've experienced the haunting clarity of this delicate variety, settling for anything short of exciting is nearly unthinkable.  Yet we try.  Again and again.  Why when there are so many other wines being made well at reasonable prices?  Well, primarily because we are cheapskates.  And because we fancy ourselves explorers, prospectors searching for gems as yet unveiled by points accolades.  Most of all, though, the spell is a heavy trance that lingers no matter how much distraction we pursue.

Like the tides follow the lunar cycle, tastes go through ruts and plains and plateaus, occasionally sparked by brief, unexpected adventures to terrific heights.  It's those moments, staring into a glass - or eyes closed - that we marvel at the allure and surrender to the thing that is wine.  Sure, there are other suitors with similar spells to cast: perfumed Barolo, soul-shaking Syrah, peaking Bordeaux....we each have our own mistresses.  But there is only one after which we all pine: Pinot.

Pinot Noir at Vine Hill Winery
Damn it anyhow.

What's a boy to do (when he doesn't have scratch pads made of Benjamins)?  Enter the unicorn: affordable Pinot.  Regrettably, this piece is not a revelatory list of previously unheard of bottlings.  I wish.  Rather, a thought, a suggestion on how the siren might be coaxed out below the twenty dollar mark.

Next time you've brought home that bottle for which you have a secret hope, give it some time.  She's fickle and she's temperamental, all right, but she's also shy.  Over hundreds of non-scientific experiments I have found that to the patient go the spoils.  Last night's subject was the 2009 Decoy Pinot Noir Anderson Valley.  A fine little wine thankfully missing its predecessor's (the 2008 vintage) tarring smoke (lots of fires in Mendocino in 2008), this was nothing to write home about - or pour down the drain.  But after 6 hours decanted, something changed.  The not-so-ugly duckling jumped in her fancy carriage and rode up to the ball. 

Okay, so I'm mixing metaphors and fairy tales, but, seriously, the change was miraculous.  Of course, by the time this discovery was made, there was half a glass of it left.  Am I suggesting that the Decoy is a world class Pinot if only given 6 hours decanted?  Not really.  But I am predicting that few, if any Pinots, will suffer form that length of time.  Give it a try and perhaps you'll agree.  But remember to open another wine (a white, perhaps?) at the same time, so you'll have something to drink while you wait for the swan to arrive.

Cheers

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