Cornucopia’s Last Session – Pinot Noir
Sunday afternoon, after a morning tasting on Killer Value Wines (see previous post) we took in the last session of Cornucopia for 2011. It was a mini-tasting series entitled Pinot Noir: Wine’s Holy Grail. Mini-tasting meant 6 wines instead of the 12 we tried in the morning session but the pours were larger so I think we ended up with another 12 ounces of wine. But since we have always both been Pinot Noir fans that was OK.

Pinot Noir
D.J. Kearney (Wine Consultant and Sommelier Instructor) led the session with colour commentary provided by Ryhs Pender (wine consultant and instructor, writer and judge). The series started with what D.J. called a benchmark Pinto Noir from France and then featured wines from Oregon, New Zealand, two from BC and California.

Joseph Drouhin Cote de Beaune Rouge 2008
The home of Pinot Noir, the Joseph Drouhin Domain is 73 acres, one of the largest estates and covers all regions of Burgundy.The wine is aged in 10% new oak for 12 to 15 months. It is purple in colour, fruity and smooth. We could see why D.J. chose to start with this one. At $48.50 it is not a wine we would buy to drink often but we may buy a couple bottles to keep for a while. The recommended cellaring on their website is 5 to 8 years. Link to the wine.

Evening Land Pinot Nior 2009
This was our favourite of the 6 tasted but also the most expensive at $65. Located in Oregon, Evening Land organically farms over 120 acres of heritage vineyards that produce 13 Estate wines. This wine was from their blue series which is actually the bottom tier of what they produce with silver, gold and white series’ above this one. Although we really like it we are not likely to seek this one out except for maybe a special occasion. Link to the wine.

Akarua Estate Pinot Noir 2009
Located on 50 acres in Central Otago, New Zealand this was our least favourite of the seven wines tried. It was a bit too earthy, or mineral-like for our tastes. At $36 it is the lower tier of two Pinto Noirs produced at Akarua. Link to the wine.

Averill Creek Cowichan Pinot Noir 2008 and Quails Gate Stewart Family Reserve PInot Noir 2008
These wines are both from BC. We had not tried the Averill Creek wine before but have had many-a-bottle of the Quails Gate. The Averill Creek winery is 40 acres overlooking Cowichan Valley. The Pinot Noir we tried was $26 and we liked it but not as much as the Quails Gate at $45. Averill Creek does make a $60 Reserve Pinto Noir but this is above the price of wines we would normally seek out. Quails Gate makes both a Stewart Family Reserve Pinto Noir and a non-Reserve Pinot Noir. We have had both and have really liked both with the non-Reserve being $25 and the Reserve being $45. We asked a few questions about the difference between the two and have decided we will have to open them both at the same time once to do a comparison for ourselves. Link to Averill Creek. Link to Quail’s Gate.

Davis Bynum Pinot Nior 2008
This was our last of 6 tasted and perhaps for that reason did not get enough attention but neither of us really liked it. It was a bit too spicy for us. Located in Russian River Valley California viticulture was established in the region in the 1870’s. At $40 the wine is not a bad price for a Pinto Noir but just not right for us. Click for the wine.

So in the end we found out that we really still like Quail’s Gate and will continue to buy both levels. We will also likely look for the Joseph Drouhin Rouge on our next trip to Liberty Wines to stock up on some of the great values we learned about in the first session. We will keep the Evening Land in mind for a special occasion.