Ready to compare two Pinot Noirs from two terroirs? I was! And thankfully, WineShop At Home, the Napa winery I’m affiliated with, gave me the opportunity. Our winemaker, Alex Reble, is French. So, the winery often needs to bring Alex French grapes (actually juice) to play with. The cool thing is that in the past few months Alex made two Pinot Noirs, one from France and the other from the United States. I was excited to compare the two, because it gives us the opportunity to compare two terroirs. In this article, we’ll explore these two wines.
What Is Terroir?
Let’s start by defining terroir. Terroir (pronounced Tare wahr) is a French term that embodies the growing environment of the grapes. It encompasses everything from the soil content to the slant of the hill to the direction of the sun to the amount of fog and precipitation.
In the Old World wine region (France and the rest of Europe), terroir is considered to be the most important determinant of a wine’s style. In the New World wine region (United States, Australia, New Zealand, South America, Africa and other non-European countries), the grape is considered to be the most important determinant of a wine’s style.
A Word of Warning About the French Pinot Noir that We Tried
Most Pinot Noirs from France are grown in the Burgundy region of France. It’s why when you buy a red Burgundy in the United States, it’s always a Pinot Noir. But in the last 20 or so years, a number of French wineries are breaking the rules and growing Pinot Noir in other regions of France. WineShop At Home’s Joy Cellars French Pinot Noir was that type of wine. Grown in France but not in the Burgundy region.
Comparing the Two Pinot Noirs
I did a comparison tasting with three of my work buddies.
We liked both wines but found the United States wine (grapes were from Lodi) to be lighter and the French wine to be warmer and more enveloping. We decided that the American Pinot would be a great afternoon wine and the French Pinot would be a great dinner wine.
Please take a listen to everybody’s comments.
Sadly, WineShop At Home has sold out of the French wine. So, even though it was our favorite, we can’t get any more bottles. That’s okay. WineShop At Home always produces great wines, so we get to look forward to what’s next.
We had a great time doing our tasting, but did we learn very much? Do we know that the French terroir is more attractive to us? Not really. We learned that we liked this French wine because it had a warmer, more enveloping feel to it. But that was just two wines. This tasting experience doesn’t tell us that we like French Pinot Noirs better than American Pinot Noirs. It’s a single data point that is nice to have. But we probably need to do at least 20 more side-by-side tastes of French and American Pinot Noirs to truly understand the differences between the terroirs and confidently determine our preferences.
If you have done a lot of comparative Pinot Noir tastings, please share your thoughts with us.
Thanks and Merci.
As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!
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