El Pinot-Devil-Noir

‘God planted Cabernet Sauvignon in Bordeaux, and the Devil planted Pinot Noir in Burgundy”.  Please do forgive me dear reader, but I do not remember who actually coined this phrase, but I like it a lot and of course it could be just as good the other way around, as it was probably meant to mean the first time around. The proof is & always will be in the plumb pudding.

Around twenty years ago, let’s go back to 2004, the two words Pinot Noir did not exactly resound around the hills, mountains and valleys of Mendoza or Patagonia in Argentina. The abundant red grape varieties then where Bonarda & Malbec, the preferred choice of vinous children in this adolescent Republic of wine. Things have changed a lot since then, as you all probably well know. The Zapata family still rule the Mendocian roost (Zapato in the local lingo means shoe!) and will do so for a long time to come. Thanks be to God they do not make a Pinot Noir, their focus would still appear to be on churning out the good old Malbec and one particularly excellent Cabernet Sauvignon, Estiba Reservada, which I can share some news of at the end of this blog.

Today, however, we had the chance to taste all the local ´privileged´, no crap, Pinot Noir in just one sitting, at a blind tasting held in our local wine team´s new office, Soil.

They polished the glasses and off we went. Shlurp, shpit, shwallow. Mmm, ooh, ahh! The first four wines reminded me how wine, especially wines labelled Pinot Noir, have really become no more than an expensive & common wine-ish drink. No thanks to the supermarket style of wine that is so prevalent down here and around the world now. The next four wines showed a little more gumpf character, but again nothing to put pen and ink to, sorry to break the news. The final two wines of the blind tasting, however, managed to hit all the right Pinot Noir notes.

Among the ten wines tasted only these two wines I would, whole heartedly, recommend to any serious wine drinker & wine collector. They where my clear favourites, and not really such a great suprise came from the Incisa della Rocchetta stable down there in Rio Negro. Their 2021 Chacra ’32’ or Treinta y Dos (Thirty Two in SpanglishPatagonia had a delicate purple hew on it. The nose threw up red rose petal, lavender and hints of hawthorn with a bit of undergrowth. Medium palate, lovely texture and with good sour cherry grip backed up by soft tannins. A long lasting palate and the kind of wine that makes you want to keep going back to, again, again and again. The vines where planted by Italian immigrants in 1932 hence the mention ´32´ on the label. Classy red wine and probably getting more expensive by the day.

Bodega Chacra ‘Treinta y Dos ’32’ Pinot Noir, Rio Negro, Argentina
8 bottles       2018 @ £275bt
3 bottles       2019 @ £295bt
6 bottles       2020 @  £295bt
3 magnums 2021 @ £395mg*

Otronia -1- Pinot Noir, Chubut, Patagonia, Argentina
60 bottles   2020 @ £60bt
120 bottles 2021 @ Shipping Autumn 2024*

– Prices are ex London City Bond VT  ‘Under Bond’ per bottle/magnum* –

The only other wine that made me sit up and almost beg for more came from a vineyard much further south, right down in Chubut on 45th parallel (el paralelo 45). I believe that this is the most southerly commercial vineyard in the world. The bottom tip of South Island New Zealand is the only other land mass that touches this parallel, and I am not so sure there are any vines planted down there, yet!

The 2021 Otronia Pinot Noir, Chubut showed an abundance of mixed red fruit on the nose, a touch of mushroom-cherry and pure finesse. Cranberry and soft clove appeared on the palate with a full raspberry finish. Delicious! Without a doubt these two wines are in a league of their own, as far as Argy PN goes. As a wine nipper, in 1980s London, the first Pinot Noir I tasted that was produced outside of Burgundy came from Hamilton Russell over there in the Cape of Good Hope (Souff Africa). In those days this wine tasted even better than most of the Cotes de Nuits that we where importing then. Today, of course red Burgundy has leapt itself out of the cage and now makes some of the most exquisite red wine made from PN (don’t mention this grape to theBurgundians) ”We do not make Pinot Noir in Burgundy, we only make red Burgundy”.

The morning before going to this tasting, by serendipity, I read this article:
A glass or two a day has been shown to improve skin’s elasticity especially wine made from the Pinot Noir grape. High in antioxidants and low in sugar! However, excessive amounts of alcohol can cause damage to your skin. Oh la la!
The article then went on to say that wines made from Pinot Noir contain up to eight times more antioxidants than other grape varieties which offer excellent protection against heart disease. As the grape skin carries a high amount of resveratol, the article tells me, it also reduces the risk of both colon and prostate cancer. The moral of this medical news, of course, is that if you want to live longer, start drinking more good wine made from
the Pinot Noir grape. Just please don´t forget Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and all the Sangiovese family etc.

Bodega Otronia (45th parallel south) saving the Pinot Noir vines from the Patagonian Springtime frosts.


Coming up in July this year we are taking part in the annual big show here at Buenos Aires, Exposicion Rural 2024. 

It’s a bit like an English County Agricultural show but in huge format. Everything from the cows to the combine harvesters,  the tractors and the horse show. It’s all very very large indeed, and goes on for a week. ´´Dios esta en todas partes, pero atiende en Buenos Aires´´ (meaning more or less: ´´God is everywhere but his office is here in Buenos Aires´´)

The wine stand will be showing off the only ´Vertical Collection´ in the world of the now famous Estiba Reservada from the bodega Catena Zapata. This collection of vintages span from the first vintage produced 1990 to the most recent 2017.  We hope to taste the 2017 vintage on the stand and offer nibbles, should you be nearby please drop me a line:   william@worldwineconsultants.com