Pinot Noir: 2 for around $20

Jean-Paul Brun · 2012 · Bourgogne · Terres Dorees · Beaujolais, France 

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2012 is going to be a scant vintage in Burgundy to say the least.

It was the first half of the year that really set the tone. The weather was, well, shit. It was cold, wet and punctuated by a weak, drawn out flowering, spoty fruit set, frosts in the spring and hail in the summer, conditions prime for disease and weak for organics.

So how are the wines, you might ask? They’re great; even a step further, there is greatness. It’s amazing what a cluster of good weeks can do at the right time. The latter half of the summer and carrying through to harvest was largely dry, very sunny, hot at times, properly cool at night and, alas, all was saved.

Well, not really.

What this really means, for us, is that great wines from Burgundy were made, just far less of it, perhaps by 40 or 50 percent, and what’s available will be expensive.

In a very roundabout way, that’s why I’m excited about a wine like this.

Jean-Paul Brun’s Pinot Noir is planted in the clay and limestone soils of southern Beaujolais, in the heart of Gamay Noir territory. His wines, as a whole, are beautifully constructed and balanced with an emphasis on fruit-driven style of the region from which they come, but with far great complexity and depth than many of his counterparts. He intervenes in the winemaking process minimally, but not to to a fault, and delivers great wines that are honest and exciting. The 2012 Bourgogne is vivid and pure with a rich core of brambly tart red fruit, no overt oak, and an exciting amount of acid for a warmer spot on the map. It’s wines like these that will fill holes in a vintage like 2012 when the Côte d’Or struggles to deliver for the $$.

Weingut Darting · 2011 · Pinot Noir · Trocken · Pfalz, Germany 

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An Estate Selection from the great Terry Theise, Weingut Darting has been producing wine under their own label since 1989, but carry a long history of grape growing that dates back to the late 1700’s. Philosophically the wines are driven by a minimal handling approach; delivered by cold, slow natural-yeast fermentations, minimal racking, and a bullish stance on reductive (minimal oxygen) winemaking.

This particular Pinot Noir is good, although characteristically not entirely in my wheelhouse. It’s broad and weighty, eagerly fruit-driven, with a not so unpleasant, but present spike of heat on the finish. Definitely more brawny than pretty. Certainly a touch toasty with a sexy, sweet core of fruit, a ton of piney/mossy funkiness, and tannin a bit more showcased than acid. This is an easy pleaser, and for the price, worth finding.

Cheers!

-Rob.

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