As a rule of thumb at KLWM, we prize wines made from grapes that are indigenous to or traditional in a given region. We look for Chenin Blanc in the Loire Valley, Sangiovese in Tuscany, and Syrah in the northern Rhône. We rarely seek out bottles featuring famous grape varieties planted where they don’t have a time-honored and deeply ingrained culture. But every now and then, we do come across a gorgeous, terroir-driven Sauvignon Blanc from Alto Adige or Chardonnay from Friuli, and we can’t resist. After all, certain grape varieties are exceptionally chameleon-like, able to reflect the unique beauty of their surroundings as much as or more so than any core flavor profile of their own. Arguably no grape epitomizes this more than Pinot Noir. The terroir transparency of Pinot Noir has made its home region, Burgundy, so fascinating and rewarding to dissect, given the countless expressions of the grape depending on the vine’s microclimate, soil, exposure, and elevation, among other factors. As it has made its way farther and farther outside of Burgundy over the centuries, Pinot Noir’s character has differentiated itself even more, resulting in a dizzying range of wines, from elegant and ethereal to ripe and intense. The wines below come from regions where this grape has thrived for a long time as well as from relative newcomers. All exquisite in their own way, they offer a vast range of the possibilities of Pinot Noir.
Sancerre may be best known for its crisp white wines made from Sauvignon Blanc, but this village has also cultivated Pinot Noir for centuries. Chotard has crafted a delicious, complex, and elegant rouge that gives many village Burgundies a run for their money.
This outstanding premier cru bottling comes from the village of Aloxe-Corton in the heart of Burgundy and delivers a world-class rendition of elegant Burgundian Pinot Noir from one of the region’s great traditionalists.
On the other side of Beaune from Aloxe-Corton, Pommard is home to relatively muscular renditions of Pinot Noir. This red is deep and powerful, but the charming 2017 vintage and the Boillots’ nearly hundred-year-old vines have endowed the wine with unusual elegance and refinement.
If any Pinot Noir on these pages is built for the Parisian bistro or Lyonnais bouchon, it is this one from the hills of Chignin, in Savoie. The vines’ southeastern exposure gives them plenty of sunlight, resulting in a ripe and succulent rouge perfect for your next picnic or Thanksgiving table.
The cru of Mazzön, which stretches along an imposing limestone ridge above the town of Ora in northeastern Italy, has produced top-notch Pinot Nero for nearly two hundred years. The Carlottos’ bottling, which evokes black cherries and blood orange, is one of Italy’s most refined and age-worthy red wines made from this grape.
Another of Italy’s most sublime Pinot Neros, this Ronco Pitotti comes from vines planted in 1940 and 1980. Aged extensively in barrel and bottle, it delivers elegance, finesse, and complexity that you would expect from premier or grand cru Burgundy.
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