It's been a while, but my sommelier group got together this past Sunday afternoon. I missed them. I need them to keep my so-called palate in check. It's easy to get rusty without someone to bounce your tasting notes off just to be sure that yes, that wine did actually taste like dirty socks. On Sunday we did a tasting of Pinot Noir and I brought a bottle of Ontario Pinot Noir: Flat Rock Cellars' 2010.
It's hard to find a Pinot Noir that is under $20. The grape is an early ripener, so it grows well in cooler climates, that means vintage matters and it also means that depending on the weather in a given year, there might not be enough fruit to go around. It's also considered a very difficult grape to grow. Thin-skinned, sensitive to frost and wind, yet it also doesn't like heat and arid climates; prone to attract fungus and mildew, it can be a fine balance for a winemaker to get healthy fruit with just the right amounts of sugar and acid. Hence it can come in a myriad of styles. It's also one of the oldest cultivated vines - almost 2,000 years - this means it has a very diverse genetic background. It mutates often making it difficult to nail down in the vineyard. All of this affects the price of the wine.
This bottle is $19.95 and a very good deal as it's quite nice in the glass: earthy, pale and light, with lots of vibrant red cherry, mineral, and something minty. The aromas give way to a richer sensation of liquorice and darker berries. There's an acidic bite to it, but so nicely balanced with lots of fruit and very little tannin that it ends in a long, almost smooth finish. Lovely. The real pleasure of this wine is the balance it strikes between delicate and plush.
We also tried Josef Chromy 2009 Pinot Noir, Kim Crawford 2010, and Wine by Joe 2008. We liked them all with the Kim Crawford coming in as the fullest wine at 14% alcohol. The Ontario pick was my favourite.