Wine 2: Pinot Noir

This week, I was fortunate enough to have scheduled a wine tasting at our local Thief Wine, at the Milwaukee Public Market, which contributed to my varietal selection this week: Pinot Noir.

Pinot Noir was a wine I never tried – or at least knew I tried and gave much thought to it – until I had my first glass of Meiomi. And how fitting that my friend Sarah, who helped me embark on my exploration of wine, and my twin sister Lindsey gave me bottles of Meiomi Pinot Noir for Christmas and our birthday, respectively. Oh, they know me so well!!


My awesome Christmas gift from Sarah!

Meiomi was the first bottle of wine I bought which broke the $20 ceiling, oftentimes costing about $22, although you could find it just under that threshold depending on local sales. Pinot Noir, to me, was never a “have a glass” wine, which I usually reserved for Cabernet Sauvignon. However, Meiomi was the first wine I actually bought at that price level which made me understand that when paying that price, you’re actually getting a better product.

I understand price sensitivity, trust me, I do, but there is definitely a difference between $5 bottles of wine, and $15 bottles of wine. In my opinion, you’ll be able to tell a big difference in the quality of wine when you spend the extra ten bucks or so. Not only does it support the team of winegrowers and pickers, but it also will likely support smaller winegrowers, who don’t mass produce with a lot of additives at the lower price level.


And the wonderful box of birthday goodies from my sister! Can you sense a theme?

It’s something I never thought about, but there truly is a lot that goes into creating wine. Whether its planting the vine, nurturing it until it becomes fruitful (it usually takes about 5-7 years for vines to be truly profitable in the wine making industry), harvesting, or producing the actual bottles, there are several hands that ‘touch’ what you end up drinking from that bottle.

We find higher prices which can signal a recognizable name, but those higher prices can also be an indication of a hand crafted wine – meaning, it has a largely manual process without a ton of automation or mechanization of the steps in the process. There’s an art to harvesting and also selecting which grapes make the cut to go into the bottle. Think of all the hands that have played a role in bringing you this perfect glass!

I digress, let’s get to our Pinot Noir.

Pinot Noir is grown all over the world, but is originally from Burgundy, France. You’ll find pinots from Chile and Argentina, Germany, Australia, and, as I’m sure you’re aware, the US. Pinot Noir is a big fruit red, that’s light to medium bodied, with a medium alcohol content. Depending on where you’re getting your wine, you can find a slightly earthier taste from Europe, and Oregon, versus one with a little more baking spice from the Southern hemisphere and California. What’s so amazing about this grape, though, is that its thin skin makes it challenging to grow, yet we find it in so many different regions. Because of those thin skins, these grapes are more prone to mold and rot. They require a warmer climate to ripen, but too much heat could impact the growth and the taste.

The Pinot Noirs I tasted this week were all domestic, and that’s not to say that I would never recommend venturing outside of the States for this gem. Just so happened the tasting focused on the Pinots of California and Oregon, and Meiomi also fits into the Cali clan. Because I had the opportunity to taste several alongside each other, I’ll share all my tasting notes with you:

  1. Chloe 2016 from Monterey County in California. On the nose, I had strong cherry, and I noticed this was a very light bodied Pinot Noir. I honestly could not offer specific tasting notes, as I’m convinced my palate was off due to my having scarfed a salad with red onions. The onion flavor lingered the entire time I drank this, so I didn’t even write any tasting notes down. I will, however, share that my wine-buddy said she’d buy this one to have as her ‘sit by the fire with a glass’ wine.
  2. 60 Souls 2014 from Willamette Valley in Oregon. Again, strong cherry on the nose with blackcurrant. Taste yielded more of a medium body, which was very fruity. It was a bit dry at the end, but a very pleasant glass.
  3. Beaux Frères 2015 from Willamette Valley. Nose of deep grape, ripe cherry, and blackberry. So lovely to smell, even lovelier to taste. This is a smooth wine with a fantastic mouth-feel. Definitely an exceptional pinot!
  4. Presqu’ile 2012 from Santa Maria Valley in California. Smelled brighter than the other wines, a little more raspberry on the nose, and also more of an herbaceous scent. This wine had a deep, complex flavor with a light/medium body and a very clean finish.
  5. Pillow Road 2014 from Russian River Valley in California. Another light/medium body wine with a slightly more blueberry nose, and a full flavor at the onset, which smoothes into a fantastic balanced flavor with a slightly earthy note at the end.
  6. Belle Glos 2016 “Las Alturas” from Santa Lucia Highlands in California. This was the most unique of the night, with a lusciously deep red color. On the nose: primary aromas of a black fruit with secondary aromas of mint, herb, and yeast. The taste was of those dark fruits, but also had a sweeter taste, like cola. It was good, but overall, I felt this wine wasn’t as drinkable, meaning I might have a glass but maybe not more than that, as the others.

The fun thing about this tasting was that I got a chance to sample a later vintage of a wine I had tasted and bought from an earlier event, which was a 2014 Beaux Frères. I  thought about a side by side tasting of the two vintages, but ended up nixing those plans, with the steeper price tag of the 2015. At the end of the tasting, I walked away with two bottles, though I was originally tempted to buy a third. Below is a picture of my purchases, sandwiching the bottle of Beaux Frères I bought last year:


Pillow Road 2014 for $44, Beaux Freres 2014 for $45, and Presqu’ile 2012 for $30. Also important tidbit: Pinot Noir is recommended to age up to 5-7 years.

I did also jot down my notes for the 2015 Meiomi, which combines grapes from three California counties: Monterey, Sonoma, and Santa Barbara. A beautiful, opaque garnet in the glass, with a slightly spicy nose underlaying deep cranberry, grape and pomegranate fruits, the last of which seems to bring a slight tartness. Flavor was medium body, big in red fruits and low tannins, with a low to medium acidity. As delicious as I remember!

These pinots were a great treat for my birthday week, and I’m looking forward to gearing up for next week’s post!


8 thoughts on “Wine 2: Pinot Noir

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