Feb. 10, 2018
APOGEE ALTO 2017 PINOT NOIR
An old saying about Pinot Noir, which sticks in my mind, is that it does not have to be big to be good. Many of the great Pinot's are light in colour. In my book the key characteristic that tells you are in true Pinot Noir country is the aroma. In my very early days of tasting it was a Pinot Noir from Burgundy, in fact a Vosne Romanee Aux Malconsorts from the 1949 vintage, which got me hooked on wine. It was the perfume and the silky, velvety palate of this wine that was sublime. My search has continued for many years to find that same sensation.
Pinot Noir is so seductive but many of the new world Pinot’s fall short. My scientific explanation is that Pinot Noir must not only be cool-grown but also produced in humid climates. Humidity in conjunction with a good vineyard soil means that the vines do not stress too much. ( See my Blog on Humidity). Stressed vines yield wines which are hard and angular. The “good” vineyard soil is one where it holds the vines under a slight stress in the humid climate. Only great vineyard sites, the grand crus, do this. Sites with high humidity and cool temperatures are rare in the New World, and those with good soils even rarer. Apogee is cooler than Burgundy but has the same humidity, and great soil. Under these conditions the suppleness and the perfume combine to give that hit I have been looking for.
All of these thoughts come to mind when tasting the 2017 Apogee Pinot noir. It is very fragrant and perfumed: it reminds me of the violet-raspberry of the lighter villages of Burgundy which are traditionally served in large balloon glasses so that the fragrance can be fully enjoyed.
With only 12.7 % alcohol the palate is only medium weight but is fully-flavoured. Pinot Noir with such lightness is a rarity especially in the modern world of 14.5% alc/vol Pinot Noirs.
There is a mild tannin nip and some toasty French oak, all of which will meld into something very interesting in 12-24 months time. Therefore, it will not take the 10 years to soften of a good Grand Cru Burgundy, but it will become a very good glass of wine, reminding us that Pinot Noir does not have to be big to be good.