What to do with Pinot Noir, light visually and in total body...

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crushday

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In September 2020, I fermented and finished a Pinot Noir from Dundee Hills, AVA. From the beginning, I’ve been suspicious the grapes would produce a lighter than normal finished wine. Today, I thieved some from the storage vessel and it’s very light. Not light enough to fool anyone into thinking it’s a Rose’, but pretty darn light. I have 25 gallons to contend with.

Right now, these are the options I’m considering:

1. Leave it as is and consider it a “picnic” Pinot. Presently, it’s a noon drinker. Not the center of any party and will get along with just about everyone. Smooth but very shallow and quick finish. I would likely bottle this in a clear bottle. Label attached...

2. Dress it up with a small portion of another wine to provide body, nose and color.

My options right now are:

Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, or a Malbec. I have these in 100% varietal, stored in 1 gallon jugs, that I use for topping up barrels. Any or all of these would do the trick and I would do bench trials to create a work of beauty.

Who has some experience with contending with a Pinot that is underwhelming?


Pinot Noir Dundee.jpg
 

winemaker81

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This is not an either/or situation. I'd leave some as-is, as it's a useful summer drinker, or any time ya want something light. It might be a good salmon or hearty chicken wine, definitely roast turkey.

While I have no experience in blending into a Pinot, IME any of the 3 blending wines will strongly affect the Pinot. Since I suspect you simply want something heavier, that's not a problem.

Me? I'd bench test -- 5%/95% and 10%/90% blends with all 3 blending wines, e.g., you have 6 samples. Blind taste them with a few friends, ranking the wines 1 to 6. If the 1 is a 5% blend, you're done, go with the winner.

If the winner is a 10% blend, do another test with 10% & 15% blends. Keep in mind that you may decide one is the best fit, e.g., Malbec, so further bench testing may be with varying amounts of just 1 blending wine. Or you may decide to try blending 5% of 2 wines into the Pinot.

Let your nose and taste buds lead you.

It may be entirely possible that you'll scrap blending, based upon the testing outcome. Or make multiple blends.

I realize my comments are not directly useful, but may be the food for thought to help you pick a direction.
 

BarrelMonkey

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Me? I'd bench test -- 5%/95% and 10%/90% blends with all 3 blending wines, e.g., you have 6 samples. Blind taste them with a few friends, ranking the wines 1 to 6. If the 1 is a 5% blend, you're done, go with the winner.
And of course including the unadulterated pinot noir for comparison in your blind tasting... :)
(Though I'm not sure I love the idea of a cabernet sauvignon/pinot noir blend...)

I also agree with winemaker81 that just bottling the wine as a lighter style of pinot noir is a fine choice. Assuming you like it and have a use for such a wine, why not? My last PN turned out to be very light in color as well, but it was a very pleasant nose and flavor that pairs well with lighter meals.
 

BarrelMonkey

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Actually, blending any of the 3 with Pinto sounds bizarre to me, but it's a bench test. Why not try it?
Why not indeed! My only rationale for fewer samples would be how many you think you can objectively evaluate at one time. I have no idea how professional wine critics can taste dozens (or maybe more?) wines in one session. I think about 6 is my maximum.

I used to drink a wine from the Australian producer D'Arenberg called Laughing Magpie; as I recall it was 95% syrah with 5% viognier. Sounds weird but I though it was delicious.
 

Cynewulf

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I haven’t had this particular wine from Chateau Revelette but have had others that are excellent: https://revelette.fr/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/ft-grand-rouge-2017.pdf. In 2017, this wine was 40 % Syrah / 18 % Cabernet Sauvignon / 16 % Carignan / 13 % Grenache / 13 % Pinot Noir, though in 2018 it was only 2% Pinot Noir. In there you have grapes that we’d typically associate with Bordeaux, Rhône, and Bourgogne, but blended into something that the winemaker believed was in harmony. One of the things I’ve appreciated about some of the newer winemakers in France is they’re using old school techniques with grapes that don’t always fit the molds dictated by the INAO but they’re willing to take a lesser IGP or even Vin de France designation to make the wine they want to make and some of the results are both delicious and a great value. As others said, I’d take the Pinot Noir and make it into the wine you’re happiest with without worrying about convention.
 
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crushday

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All great discussion. Thanks @winemaker81 , @BarrelMonkey and @Cynewulf for weighing in. I’m not specifically unhappy with the wine as it has great flavor. It’s just not the Pinot I was expecting from such a great vineyard. Right now I’m leaning toward bottling as is but will try some bench trials. I plan on bottling this the first weekend in June as it’s ready now. Any further development will happen in bottle. I chose not to oak (wanted fruit forward) and have it stored in Speidel plastic storage tank.
 

sour_grapes

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In September 2020, I fermented and finished a Pinot Noir from Dundee Hills, AVA. From the beginning, I’ve been suspicious the grapes would produce a lighter than normal finished wine.
I have to assume you know that Willamette Pinots are, in general, more "Burgundian" than other new-world Pinots, right? They are generally pretty light and not so fruit-forward. Cf.: Oregogne; What's So "Burgundian" About Oregon Pinot Noir? .

OTOH, I have no problem with punching it up with some of your other choices. I would lean towards PV as most "bang for your buck."
 

NorCal

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I’ve tried to purposely make the wines I make taste different, here’s why. I use to tend to blend my wines to the point that they tasted similar. It gets boring drinking similar wine over and over again. Rejoice in varietal differences, but I draw the line at bottling a wine that I don’t think is good. Different, I’m good with, not a good wine, I’ll blend it to no end.
 

crushday

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I have to assume you know that Willamette Pinots are, in general, more "Burgundian" than other new-world Pinots, right?
Paul...Nope. No idea. Sheds some light as this has been a head scratcher for me.

Image provided are the pressed skins of this wine. The skins gave up everything they had!

EB5DA6DA-8BD8-4CC6-A67B-86699B5B36CB.jpeg
 

crushday

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I’ve tried to purposely make the wines I make taste different, here’s why. I use to tend to blend my wines to the point that they tasted similar. It gets boring drinking similar wine over and over again. Rejoice in varietal differences, but I draw the line at bottling a wine that I don’t think is good. Different, I’m good with, not a good wine, I’ll blend it to no end.
@NorCal , I’ll bring you a bottle of this in September. It’s drinking really well now and by then should be even better.
 

TurkeyHollow

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You didn't mention your method of bulk storage. Was it in oak or stainless vct? If oak, did it go neutral? If stainless, why not throw some Fr. oak med+ toast at it just to fill in something that may be missing?
 

Kraffty

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Following along, my PN this year is also very light in color. Undisclosed origin, probably Lodi. Tastes good though and I've thought about blending some with a white to make a blush. No decisions made yet though.
 

AcreageWine

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I recently bottled a batch of Pinot and oaked it in a relatively new barrel. Priori to the oak IO was completely underwhelmed. I expected a lot more body, but had a wine that was okay but as you say light. The oak has given it more depth and now I plan to let it mature in the bottle for a while.
 

crushday

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@crushday, did you use any enzymes when fermenting?
Bryan, yes, I did use enzymes. Here are my fermentation notes:

Dundee Hills Pinot Noir (35 gallons frozen must), Day 1 sprinkled EX-V, Day 2 pitched AMH yeast, GoFerm, Day 4 added Tannins, added CH16 bacteria on days 5. Day 6, a little skunky this morning so I added FerMax, day 9 pressed to secondary. Was able to get 23 gallons free run and 6 gallons of press, wine is very light, almost like a Rose’, we will see what happens.
 

crushday

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You didn't mention your method of bulk storage. Was it in oak or stainless vct? If oak, did it go neutral? If stainless, why not throw some Fr. oak med+ toast at it just to fill in something that may be missing?
I have it stored in a Speidel plastic tank (60L), a PET 6 gallon carboy and a 1 gallon glass jug. All three storage mediums are producing the same outcome; identical as far as I can tell. I consciously decided against oaking opting for a more fruit forward wine. Perhaps this is a liability as it pertains to body?
 

MiBor

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Winemaker Mag has an article titled Wine Blending Partners where Chik Brenneman recommends blending Pinot Noir with Gamay as its sole blending partner. I don't know if you can find Gamay wine for blending with your Pinot Noir, but I thought I should mention it here. Also, the pic below is from an article by Pat Henderson.
Screen-Shot-2021-03-09-at-1.12.50-PM.png
 

winemaker81

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Bryan, yes, I did use enzymes. Here are my fermentation notes:
Cool. If you didn't, it wasn't going to help with this batch, but I was curious.

More food for thought: This one isn't heavy, so it's probably not going to have a long lifespan. I'd conservatively guess 3 years, maybe 5. As such, I'd not want 10 cases of it as I don't want to drink the same wine day after day.

It actually sounds good as-is, even if it's not what you hoped for, so bottling 2 carboys for near term consumption may be right.

@AcreageWine's idea sounds good to me. You might try adding 1 or 2 oz Hungarian or American cubes to a carboy and see what it tastes like after a month or 2. Do that and maybe blend in some of the other wines. Bench testing is both practical and fun!

This thread started out sounding like you have a problem that needs solving. It's morphed into a golden opportunity to experiment and have fun! The hard part is narrowing down all the choices as you only have 5 carboys ...

:r
 

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