Pinot Noir is the grape so distinctive that it got its own movie, Sideways. The movie's main character, Miles Raymond, says that Pinot Noir "can only grow in these really specific, little tucked-away corners of the world. And only the most patient and nurturing of growers can do it, really. Only somebody who really takes the time to understand Pinot's potential can then coax it into its fullest expression." The most famous of those "tucked-away corners" are in Burgundy, but you'll also find them in Oregon's Willamette Valley, California's Sonoma County, Argentina's Patagonia, and all around New Zealand and Australia.
But Pinot Noir also grows in parts of Italy, where one major clone dominates, and it's called Pinot Nero. Originally grown mostly in Lombardia and to a lesser extent the Veneto, Pinot Nero has remained surprisingly local; not much of Italy's Pinot Nero wines get exported, but as tricky as the grape is to cultivate, some winemakers are doing what they need to do to make worthy, important Pinot Nero wines. One of those producers making the effort is the Antinori family, whose team has devoted part of the Antinori family's Umbrian estate, Castello della Sala, to making a serious Pinot Nero wine. Today, I'm very pleased to shine a spotlight on the Castello della Sala 2013 Pinot Nero. It shows a decidedly Italian profile of this French grape, and it is very sexy.
Along with this Italian made French import, I'm very pleased to present some wines that are purely French: a beautiful old-vine Chassagne-Morgeot Blanc from Château de la Maltroye and a trio of Pouilly-Fumé bottles from the Loire Valley master Didier Dagueneau. These wines will appeal to Francophiles, and whether you want to enjoy them now as winter whites or let them cellar until warm weather returns, they'll be delicious.