Thursday, August 18, 2011

Le Chapeau Cuvee Napoléon Pinot Noir (2010)

When one thinks of Pinot Noir, the first thought here in the United States immediately turns to Oregon or California in the United States.  If asked about Pinot Noir wines from other countries, the first country to come to mind would be France.  More specifically, Burgundy.  However, for me, I try to think beyond those first thoughts.  While I love wines from Burgundy (who doesn't?), my attention is captured by a Pinot Noir from an unexpected place... like Corsica.

In fact, Corsica has a long history of wine making.  This history dates back to 570 B.C., when Phoenician traders settled on the island.  Today, there are ten Appellations d’Origine Contrôlée ("AOCs") and one island-wide designation known as "Vin de Pays de l'Île de Beauté."  To bottle a wine with the AOC designation, a vineyard has to follow strict rules regarding the cultivation of specific grapes and follow certain rules with respect to the production and aging of the wine. As for the island-wide designation of Vin de Pays de l'Île de Beauté, all that is needed is that the grapes come from Corsica and the wine is bottled on the island.  This designation is useful for vineyards and winemakers who cultivate grapes, like Pinot Noir, which do not fit comfortably within any of the AOCs.

In this case, Agnes and Romauld Baudin bottle a Pinot Noir called Le Chapeau Cuvee Napoléon.  There is not a lot of information about the cultivation of Pinot Noir grapes in Corsica, other than some promotional materials that talk about how the richness of the sand-granite soil of the island lends itself to the grapes.  More research is needed, but I have a glass of wine at hand.  

The Cuvee Napoléon Pinot Noir pours a few shades lighter than some of the Pinot Noirs that I have had.  Indeed, the edges of the wine in the glass are very light.  The aroma of the wine is light, with fresh berries like raspberries and blackberries shining through.  The light aroma is also reflected in other aspects of the wine.  The body of the wine is very light, perhaps the lightest of any Pinot Noir that I have tasted.  The flavors of the wine are also light, with those fresh berries taking center stage.  After a while, a slight pepper taste seems to come out in the wine, but it does not rise to any prominence in the wine. 

I should note that I drank this wine while it was very young; it is a 2010 vintage after all.  With a little age, the flavors of the wine could develop a little more.  Still, the Cuvee Napoléon Pinot Noir is enjoyable and drinkable.  In any event, I found this wine at a local grocery store for about $11.50 a bottle.

ENJOY!

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