January 16th, 2010 – Two BC Pinot Noirs and What Makes a “Burghound”

Dinner with some friends tonight, one of whom is a huge Pinot Noir fan.  More on that later but first the wines — the 2004 Blue Mountain Reserve and the 2006 Averill Creek.  

Now, going in, I expected the Blue Mountain to be the better wine…it is one of the two best Pinots in B.C. (along with Kettle Valley Hayman Vineyard) and capable of aging and developing into a truly incredible experience! I decanted it 30 minutes before serving to let it open up a big. But while it was certainly very good — classic ripe cherry/strawberry fruit with some earthy overtones — it was lighter than normal, perhaps because 2004 was a bit of a rainy year.

Then came the Averill Creek and…wow, what a difference! Granted, 2006 was a warmer summer, but this wine fairly exploded with ripe fruit! Rich, complex and full bodied, it was clearly the better wine. Kudos to Andy Johnson, wine maker in Duncan on Vancouver Island!

Now back to the beginning of this post…what makes a Burghound (which is Pinot Noir/Burgundy talk for a “lover of Burgundy”)? Perhaps no wine elicits more fanaticism — or disappointment — than Pinot Noir. Incredibly expensive in France, often overpriced, thin and disappointing, or so fruity it almost tastes like candy (from California, in particular).

But when it is good…oh my! Pinot Noirs with enough ripe fruit that can age 6 – 8+ years can take on this amazing complexity. The smell is earthy with a touch of what lovers call “barnyard” (actually a positive thing, which I say smells more like ripe mushrooms).  And in the mouth, the mix of cherries, strawberries and herbs blends into just an unbelievable experience.

The problem, though, is this kind of an experience is very, very rare.  But once you have had it once….it is so entrancing that you keep coming back in the hope of finding it again. That, then, is what makes a Burghound.

SB

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