I am suffering a pinot noir crisis. In the old days, which weren’t that long ago, there were two kinds of pinot noir — red Burgundy from France and New World pinot noir from Oregon and California. They didn’t exactly taste alike, but at least they had something in common — they were made with just pinot noir, had low alcohol, low tannins and reasonably subtle fruit flavors (though the New World wines were more fruity than the French).
Today, pinot noir is all over the place. There are high alcohol pinots, some at 15 percent and more. There are blended pinots, some with as much as one-quarter syrah or grenache (a development that led to the Great Pinot Noir scandal last year). There are tannic pinots that taste like cabernet sauvignon. And there are incredibly fruity pinots, like Mark West and Cycles Gladiator, that are perfectly fine save for the fact that they don’t taste like traditional pinot.
I’m acutally in quite a metaphysical quandary about this. If one believes, as I do, that people should drink what they want, then I have no right to criticize their choice in pinot noir. Yet these wines are not pinot noir as I know them. What’s a wine writer to do?
For the time being, drink the La Posta (about $15, purchased, available at Central Market). That it is from Argentina makes it unusual enough, but so does the fact that it inhabits the middle ground between traditional and new-style pinot noirs. It doesn’t have all the fruit of the latter, but it also doesn’t have the earthiness and subtlety of the former. It’s also a bit thin, which is more of a function of its price — $15 is practically giving pinot away these days. Drink this with lighter-style red meat, and even salmon and roast chicken.