I’m making some venison stew with a forestierre (mushroom) sauce, and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to crack open some Pinot Noir. One has been kicking around in me cellar for years – I don’t recall when or where I bought it, or what I paid – but it’s an excellent sub-appellation in Burgundy, and the other is a recent purchase from Trader Joe’s. I’m using some of the TJ Pinot in the sauce.
Sebastien Roux (2005) Pommard, France – $ ??
Color: starting to show its age, with a little tinge of brick-orange on the edge. Still a nice healthy red color in the middle of the glass.
Taste: ah, I wish I’d had this a year or two ago. It’s past its prime. Still recognizably a feminine style of Pinot Noir, but the fruit has died off faster than the tannins and acidity. No oxidation or other faults, just the normal process of aging.
Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Pinot Noir (2010) Russian River Valley, California – $13
Color: nearly identifical to the Sebastien Roux, but without the color change on the edge.
Aroma: cherry fruit, a hint of kirsch, and some licorice spice notes.
Taste: definitely American – after tasting the Pommard, this is almost thick in texture. More cherry fruit, with some oak coming on in the mid-palate and just up to the finish. Definitely more masculine on the finish, with licorice and just the slightest touch of white pepper.
I’m going to mark the Trader Joe’s bottle as Recommended. It doesn’t have the ethereal quality of really top-notch Pinot, but it’s more than good enough to serve the boss for dinner. And at a very reasonable price. As I mentioned above, I wish I’d tried the French Pinot a few years ago – I’ll keep my eye out for other vintages of Sebastien Roux, but I won’t let the bottle get past 5 years old in the cellar.