When you drink Pinot Noir, is it always red? Maybe you don’t realize it, but many sparkling wines are made with the Pinot Noir grape. For example if you see the term “Blanc de Noirs” on a bottle of Champagne or other sparkling wine, the wine was made with red grapes. Pinot Noir is a very common red grape for sparkling wine, followed by Pinot Meunier. You can make a white wine with red grapes, as the colour is in the skins, not in the pulp. So after picking, if you press the juice from the grapes, not allowing extended skin contact, you will get white must, which leads to white wine.
Continuing with my latest tastings of wines from Summerhill Pyramid Winery, my last 2 bottles were:
- Summerhill Pinot Noir 2011 ($26.95)
- Summerhill Cipes Blanc de Noirs 2008 ($34.90)
The wines were from two different vintages, but both use organically grown Pinot Noir grapes. Thanks to Summerhill for providing me these two wines to taste and to share my experiences with you.
Summerhill Pyramid Winery Pinot Noir 2011
2010 and 2011 were cool vintages in the Okanagan. 2011 was saved by a warm September and October. A cooler vintage will typically produce grapes that are not as ripe, so you would get more restrained fruit flavours, and cooler fruit flavours. For example, in a really hot year Pinot Noir grapes could produce wines with a more dark cherry or plum flavour, while in a cooler vintage, red summer fruits, like strawberries and raspberries may be the more predominant flavour. With this in mind, I was expecting to get the red fruit profile from Summerhill’s 2011 Pinot Noir.
This wine was 100% oak barrel aged for 18 months. I am not sure of the percentage older vs new barrels, but he oak was not overpowering in this wine. It provides support to the fruit and some tannins for structure. With this wine, I tried it 3 separate times; first upon opening, then after 7hrs of decanting, and finally after 22hrs decanting.
This Pinot Noir was medium translucent in colour. Upon opening it appeared to have a slight bricking on the rim, but by the time I tasted it again the next day, the bricking had disappeared. It has a medium intensity aroma, very concentrated upon first opening, with aromas of black fruit, dried fruit, raspberry, red cherry, red currants, and hints of perfume and cinnamon. After 7hrs of decanting the aromas were quite subdued, with sour cherries and vanilla coming to the fore. On Day 2, the aromas came back, and it was maybe more aromatic. I was now getting sour cherries, raspberries, vanilla, tobacco, and chocolate on the nose.
A dry wine, with medium acidity, tannins, alcohol and body. Upon inital tasting the wine had a very light mouth feel and felt thin, but after decanting, the wine became rounder and felt fuller. On the palate you get tea leaves, violets, red fruits, and hints of raspberries, cinnamon and roses initially. With decanting red cherries, chocolate and vanilla flavours were also evident.
This wine finished quite dry and astringent on initial tasting with medium length, but again with decanting, the astringency decreased giving you a nicer finish. On Day 2, I was also pleasantly surprised with violets on the finish. Day 2 definitely gave me the prettiest Pinot Noir of my review.
If you want to get the best from this wine, decant it please, but more than just a few hours. You may want to open this wine the night before you go to bed, to have it in great form for your dinner the next day. Keep the decanted wine in a cool place, or your refrigerator.
Rating: A very pretty Pinot Noir, but you will only find out after an extended decant.
Summerhill Pyramid Winery Cipes Blanc de Noirs 2008
While 2011 was a cool vintage, 2008 I think can be categorized as a “normal” vintage, where there were no major surprises, with extended cold through the growing season, or excessive heat spikes. This should mean that the grapes in the Okanagan would reach their phenolic ripeness, giving you their best fruit flavours.
This Blanc de Noirs underwent second fermentation in the bottle with extended sur lies bottle aging. This second fermentation in the bottle, known as the “Champenoise Method”, is the same method for aging Champagne in France. I think it can also be safely said that this method of bottle aging, produces the best quality sparkling wine, with finest bubble.
The Cipes Blanc de Noirs 2008 was a pale peach skin in colour with medium bubble, but not enough to form a creamy mousse on top. It had a medium intensity, youthful aromas of sweet stone fruit, honey and apricots. Dry with medium plus acidity and a light mouthfeel. You do get some creaminess in your mouth, balanced with an acidic prickle on your tongue. Pears were the first flavour for me, together with lighter stone fruit and lemon, which was then followed on the mid-palate with green apples. This wine finished with lees, bitter almond pit and some nuttiness, with the lees persisting for quite a long time.
Rating: An organic sparkling wine with a range of light fruit flavours, making it easy to enjoy on it’s own or with food.