Friday, 3 June 2011

As dark as a black steer's toochas on a moonless prairie night

There comes the time when the traveller in America might find a glass of wine at the hotel bar might be in order. The choice inevitably includes a Pinot Noir, thanks to 'Sideways'. So having tried the Malbec and avoiding the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot one may find oneself staring at a glass of Peenoh Nwahr. This is invariably the blackest and heaviest wine one can imagine. Something like drinking Ribena concentrate. A beverage, not a wine. It's a mistake and no mistake. It has nothing to do with wine. How is that possible? It costs $10 or more. We have recently enjoyed a bottle of Pinot Noir del Veneto from Tesco (11.5% - and a properly characteristic representation of this variety) for less. Ugh.

All is not lost so far as US Pinot Noir is concerned. On our way home we stumbled on a new branch of Vino Volo at JFK Terminal 8.

This is the excellent outlet for American wines (and others) which had so enlivened our visit to Detroit Airport some time back. At Kennedy there was no wine bar or tasting that we could see - hardly even anyone in attendance until a very nice person made a hurried entrance. This was not suprising because the shop is tucked away so as to avoid anyone but the truly intrepid finding it and for those who check out the paltry wine selection at the Duty Free,

there is only a shrug when the question is posed as to whether there mightn't be anywhere else selling wine at the terminal.

Here we bought a lovely New York Cabernet Franc from Finger Lakes

and Riemer's 12.5% Pinot Noir from the same area which more than made up for what gets sold at hotel bars.

Not suprising since Hermann Wiemer is a member of a German wine producing family with 300 years tradition behind him who emigrated to New York State in the 1970s. His effort shows what wonderful wine can be produced from this grape in the US without betraying the variety's character.

There may be good US Pinot Noirs from Washington and Oregon. We have yet to taste those that give these states their good reputation, but returning to Hermann Wiemer's New York State Pinot Noir, check out the beautiful light translucent colour.

Nothing like the Coen brothers' evocation of darkness (from "The Big Lebowski" by the way).

PS. We posted the first version of this blog the day before Jancis Robinson's piece on American Pinot Noir appeared in the Financial Times. As well as enjoying the co-incidence once more (this has happened before - great minds etc.) we noted with satisfaction that our views are not irreconcilable.

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