A Chilean Take on a Finicky Grape

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What is pinot noir supposed to taste like? Do pinots that taste wildly different from French Burgundy deserve a place in the wine world? Pinot noir is one of those grapes that doesn’t do well just anywhere. And the results can be just horrific – the smell of burnt rubber, flavor of red Twizzlers, heavy/oaky reds that defy identity. We Americans have a love affair with this grape, and domestic examples from both California and Oregon have brought knowing smiles. But there are also failures, and a wine’s price tag is no guarantee of goodness.

This leads to today’s discovery, a reasonably priced example from the windswept altitude of Chile. It may not specifically remind you of other, cherished pinot noirs, but it holds its own as a fascinating take of this finicky grape.
2015 Pinot Noir, Viña San Pedro, 1865 Single Vineyard  $21 suggested retail price
Garnet in color with a “rust” element and lightening rim. A slightly roasted nose of beetroot with earthy, prickly notes of raspberry, strawberry and mountain herbs. Sweet fruit on mouth entry, with a pure, spicy, medium-bodied texture suggesting summer berry compote and steeped tea leaves. It’s lithe and “feathery” with lilting “icy” acidity for freshness. You’ll sense a touch of sweetness on the aftertaste. Drink now-2022.
89/100 points

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Arturo Ciompi

Trained as a classical clarinetist and conductor, Arturo plied his trade for many years in New York, performing with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New York City Opera, the American Symphony and countless chamber music groups. While living in Durham, Arturo became the wine manager at two iconic gourmet stores: Fowler’s in Durham and Southern Season in Chapel Hill. He had a wine spot on NPR in the ’90s and has been a continuously published wine journalist since 1997. He has won national awards for his work and is currently writing for Durham Magazine and its weekly blog, “Wine Wednesdays”. In addition, he loves teaching the clarinet. Read more on his website.

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