Wine Photo Credit: Howling Wolf

A Local Pinot with Some Serious Balance

What Fast & Furious 6 has in common with the heartbreak grape.

Howling Bluff Pinot Noir 2012 $35

I feel about Pinot Noir pretty how I feel about Dwayne Johnson movies—even when they’re bad, I love them. Take the big fruit bomb that is California’s Meomi—a particular bane of sommelier’s existence with it’s very un-Pinot like flavours. I love it. On the other end, there are Spatburgunder‘s (Germany’s take on Pinot). They’re often very light, even tart, and I love them too.

But to be fair, I like them best when they’re right in the middle, like this week’s offering from Howling Bluff. At 12.9% it’s on the low end for alcohol and while that often means the winemaker is going for a vibrant fresh style, here owner and winemaker Luke Smith isn’t afraid to bolster the flavour with some exposure to oak (30% new, 30% second fill, 40% third fill). It’s a great move and takes some confidence in today’s climate of less-is-more winemaking. Domaine Romanee Conti, arguably the greatest Pinot maker in the world, uses 100% new oak, so if it’s good enough for them, then 30% isn’t going to overwhelm this wine. What it does do is support the vibrant fruit with some structure and help out the nose a hair with some gravitas (this wine has a beautiful, old world nose).

It’s $35, so it’s not cheap but given the quality of the grapes here, I doubt they’re making a killing on this wine.



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