Monday, October 03, 2005

WBW14: The Pinot Noir was white!

For the theme of the fourteenth edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday, and my second participation, Jens of Cincinnati Wine Garage proposed a New New-World Pinot Noir. The idea was to try “a Pinot Noir from someplace other than France or the West Coast of the United States -- New New World.” Jens suggested some other wine regions like Chile, Spain, Australia and New York, as “a great opportunity to explore an old varietal in some new locations and then compare them to the usual suspects.” Being in an Italian mood these days (and if Spain is in the list, why not Italy?), It seemed to me that Pinot Nero, a type of wine that is still largely undervalued and unknown, would fit the definition perfectly. Italy can be one of the oldest wine countries of the world, it sees today more revolutionary changes than many New World wine regions.

My New Old-World Pinot Noir came from Oltrepò Pavese, an appellation located on the right bank of the Po river, in southwestern Lombardy. Oltrepò Pavese is not a very well-known wine region even if it has been one of Lombardy's most productive area since the Middle Ages. In these times, a large part of the wine production was shipped down the Po river to nearby Pavia, and then to Milan, which already represented an important consumer market. The region is also a leading source of Pinot Nero, often vinified in white to be used in local sparkling wines. But the 2003 Torti Pinot Nero, Vinificato in Bianco was not sparkling. I found the wine to be original with very distinctive aromas. It had a light golden yellow color, with a mild nose. On the palate, it was dry and mineral with some toasty aromas, surprisingly almost like a Champagne that would have lost its bubbles.

I was not as impressed with the other Pinot Nero of the evening, the 2002 Niedrist Blauburgunder, a real red wine this time. It came from Alto Adige, Italy's most northerly wine region, at the border of Austria. This is a German speaking country where Pinot Noir is called Blauburgunder. Most of the vineyards are steep and terraced, and lie along the Adige river and the Isarco Valley. With fresh summers, and hard winters, this is a cool place to grow Pinot Noir. It usually produces wines with moderate body and light fruity flavors. But this wine was different. It had a dark color, a subdued nose, oaky flavors on the palate, and not the fresh fruity aromas and the liveliness that I was expecting. With the wine, we ate a pork roast with apple and potatoes, a somewhat German-inspired recipe.

We went back to our Pinot Nero Bianco with the dessert, a simple but delicious galette called Broyé du Poitou. Broyé means crushed because the cake is so hard that according to the local tradition, you have to punch it with your fist to break it. The wine worked surprisingly well with the cake and we finished the all bottle...and the cake too!

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