Sunday, January 19, 2014

2009 Vina Casablanca Nimbus Estate pinot noir

color: near black, cranberry-purple
scent: wet forest floor -- cherries 
drink it: absolute silk -- ohmyGOD this is good
very dry finish following earthiness and un-nameable fruit 
integrated -- wine (not a fruit basket)
touch of butter and acidity at end 
half an hour later, caramel

The technical information provided tells me that "after alcoholic fermentation, the wine was racked to French oak barrels to complete the malolactic fermentation, and remains [sic] for 10-12 months."

That, in turn, explains the third line of my overlong tasting-note haiku: the absolute silk, the calling upon God, etc. Malolactic fermentation, done by friendly bacteria rather than yeasts, is what transforms the sharp, green-apple malic acids in a wine into softer, milk-like lactic acids. The process makes wines that can be called variously "approachable" or "fat" or indeed "silky." Malolactic fermentation is responsible in large part for the difference between "bosomy" California chardonnays and the throat-scorching acidity of that Puligny which puzzled us not too long ago; and I would bet it's largely responsible for the difference between this Chilean pinot noir -- cool climate red though it is -- and one particular French cool-climate burgundy which, I'm sorry to say, I didn't like at all. I tried it months ago and put the experience aside in, well, puzzlement. As follows:

2007 Bouchard Père et Fils Réserve Bourgogne pinot noir

graceful raspberry aroma -- very light 
silky -- very acidic -- 
needs a creamy meal 

I'm sure Bouchard Père et Fils deserves far better than this, but until one learns to appreciate French wines' exacting acidity levels, I suppose the best one can do is to be honest about how difficult they can be to enjoy. And mind you, this example is a modest-priced wine meant to be, I am sure, as approachable as may be to the American palate so fond of Lodi (California) fruit bombs. Still. We mustn't forget the upside to a scorched throat and flames shooting out the nostrils, even after a sip of something the French offer us as, ahem, fat: just as the Puligny which puzzled us perhaps should have been aged ten years before opening, this Bouchard Réserve pinot noir may have come my way far too soon as well.

Which, in turn, reminds me to double check the technical sheet for the delectable Nimbus Estate pinot noir. Did I read something about? -- yes, there it is. "Aging potential: between 5 and 8 years." 

Now wait a minute. I've tasted French acidity, and I've tasted Chilean acidity. And I dare to pronounce, there is no way Nimbus is going to last eight years, possibly not even five. It's delectable now. Drink it now.   

Retail, about $20.
Bouchard Père et Fils Réserve pinot noir, retail, about $20.

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