I hope you’ve been enjoying our exploration of the wonderful wine region of Carneros. In my article last week, we looked at the factors that play a key role in distinguishing Carneros’s wines, and we touched upon some of the characteristics to look for in Carneros Chardonnays. This week, the focus is Carneros Pinot Noir and how it compares to non-Carneros Pinot Noir.
Carneros Pinot Noir vs. Napa and Sonoma Pinot Noir
According to Casa Carneros, “The Carneros Quality Alliance (CQA) designed a tasting to compare Carneros [Pinot Noirs]…with [Pinot Noirs]…from both Napa County (non-Carneros) and Sonoma County (non-Carneros)… Carneros wines clustered together in one area representing high cherry, fresh berry, spicy and berry jam intensities. The wines from Napa and Sonoma Counties were not clustered with the Carneros wines or with themselves; they were scattered all over the graph.”
It sounds like there is far more homogeneity in Carneros Pinots than there is in Napa or Sonoma Pinots. So if you like the characteristics listed above, you are likely to love most Carneros Pinots.
Carneros Pinot Noir vs. Burgundian Pinot Noir
With this comparison, you get into the typical old-world/new-world wine comparison of elegant and restrained (old world) vs. fruit forward (new world). Here are two very entertaining quotes that highlight this supposedly always-true comparison.
According to The Wine Factor Blog, “French Burgundy is known for…earth and mineral notes and is a bit less fruit forward than most California Pinots….but then…Through the years many, many documented blind and semi blind tastings (this is where the wines were listed but covered when poured) have been performed…and even the experts have been hoodwinked into claiming without a doubt where this or that particular wine came from, only to be woefully incorrect.”
And from Chowhound, “I hear much about traditional Burgundy vs. New World…Pinot Noir. The discussion primarily focuses on New World PN being…’Pinot-as-Syrah’ or, ‘big, full-bodied, in-your-face style’ – in implicit or explicit contrast to Burgundian Pinot being more restrained, elegant, subtle, etc. What I find puzzling is that in reading reviews of some of the most highly regarded Burgundies…, the descriptions would seem to suggest that the Burgundies are often equally full-bodied, etc. as the New World wines.”
I invite you to do a bit of Carneros tasting of your own! Discover what flavors you detect in Carneros-label Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, versus other regions. But as you’ll see in our next installment, don’t be surprised if you’re fooled a bit. Stay tuned and you’ll see why.