Pinirvana (That’s Pinot Nirvana)
I try to get to the tastings at Marché Bacchus whenever possible. The wines are always classy, and occasionally, very different. Sometimes they’re ethereal.
In this last tasting, all of the above were in place. The wines were classy, one unusual, and four were ethereal.
There were two separate tastings; one tasting was an array of regular wines, and one was an array of Burgundian-style Pinot Noir from Sonoma.
The first wine I tasted was a 2010 Estate Argyros Atlantis Rosé. The blend is 80% Assyrtiko, 20% Mandilaria grapes. No, I never heard of them before either. But the wine was quite good! It had aromas of strawberry, red cherry, apple, and conifer forest floor. The taste reflected the nose, with a surprising creamy finish. It’s the type of wine that is so very unusual, that it would take some time to decipher what it has to say. At less than $20.00 a bottle, it is worthy of extended contemplation.
The next wine I tasted was the 2006 Ovene Winery Pinot Noir. This is embarrassing to say, but while I noticed it was quite good, I was distracted by the setting out of the wines of the day, the quartet of Soliste Pinot Noirs.
There was a charge for these wines of $10.00 – which came out to $2.50 a pour – big whoop – which is almost unheard of at Marché. I didn’t care. These were high-end Pinots that were supposedly made in the style of Burgundy. Which I love, by the way.
Indio Durand was prepping the bottles; he opened, tested, and set out each bottle. Those of us who had paid extra for the tasting stood, tickets in hand, ready to partake. And the extra fee was worthwhile; I was not disappointed. Mr. Durand has a lovely accent – Argentina, I think – and is reminiscent of the Most Interesting Man in the World in his appearance. No novice at pouring wine, he was full of information about the winemaker and the winery.
Apparently, the winemaker, Claude Koeberle, is originally from the Burgundy region, and when he eventually moved to the United States (there was quite an interesting and adventurous life between those two points) he decided that he would attempt to make Pinot Noirs that were reminiscent of the Burgundian ideal. As a seventh-generation winemaker, he certainly had the chops for it. Did he succeed? It depends upon how much you love the funkiness and barnyard character of Burgundy wines. The Soliste wines have the freshness and fruit of the American California terroir which, in my opinion, is unavoidable, and it’s coupled with the earthiness of Burgundy. While wines of Oregon have been favorably compared to those of Burgundy, the Soliste wines had the physical structure and mouthfeel that are closer to the Burgundian model. In my opinion, that is.
The first wine poured by Mr. Durand was the 2009 Soliste Narcisse Pinot Noir. Its nose was of cherry, boysenberry, trail mix, black pepper, and a touch of smoke. The same was reflected on the palate, with a surprisingly long, dry cherry finish. It was very good and worth sharing with friends.
The next wine that Mr. Durand poured was the one that embarrassed me. The 2008 Soliste L’Esperance was, in every sense of the word, ethereal. It was a brighter Rhodolite garnet than the Narcisse, with about the same age ring despite being a year older. Cherries, mint, mushroom, earth, and sous-bois was on the nose. On the tongue, it was silky and exotic, with black cherry, mushroom, earth, and vanilla. The acidity level was perfect, enticing my salivary glands to erupt. The finish was exquisite, lengthy, and sensual, which gave me a “I’ll have what’s she’s having” moment which the men around me immediately noticed. Let’s just say that it was quite an erotic, long, and sexy finish. Oh yeah, and there were vanilla, black cherry, and exotic herbs involved, too. (see blushing face). At $73.00, it’s a budgetary nightmare, but I can’t think of a better wine for a romantic evening. Man oh man.
The 2008 Soliste Sonatera Pinot Noir was more masculine. It was vibrant with wild cherries, raspberries, cranberries (for a bit of bracing acidity), sage, and coffee. The tannins were front and center on the tongue, with coffee, black tea, red fruit, and smoke. The acidity was beef-fat friendly, and this one of the few Pinot Noirs that I’d consider drinking with a hearty steak dinner.
The last wine tasted was the Soliste Nouveau Monde Pinot Noir - New World – get it? – and it was a delight to the senses. The color was gorgeous; it was a clear and bright Rhodolite garnet hue with a beautiful clarity and translucence. The nose had me inhaling its lovely fragrance; the rose petals, forest floor, vanilla, and spices were complemented by the corresponding flavors on the palate. The finish lasted forever – it was full of fresh fruit, vanilla, and smoke.
All of these wines were not for the faint of heart; they ranged in prices from $51 to $90. Worth it? Let’s just say that if there were a lottery or Megabucks involved, I’d have at least a case of each with no hesitation whatsoever.
While it was the first time I paid for a wine tasting at Marché, it taught me enough to know not to hesitate if a charge comes up again. Especially if the wines are of that quality and “specialness.”
After tasting the Pinots, I went back to the regular tasting. I won’t mention their names because I know that at least one of them is quite yummy. However, immediately after tasting the Soliste Pinot Noirs, all of them – including the Cabernet Sauvignon – tasted flat. They just couldn’t measure up to the vibrant fruit and complexity of the Soliste wines.
Now here’s the bad news for those of you who aren’t in the Las Vegas area. Most of these wines are already sold to restaurants. The only retail outlet – at least in the immediate California/Nevada/Utah/Arizona area – is Marché Bacchus. It could be quite the long drive.
I’m saving up my money to get a bottle of the L’Esperance. That means “The Hope” by the way. Very sexy, silky, and ethereal. Reminds me of me in my youth. All I’ll need after that is the romantic evening.