Barrel Tasting: 2010 Noiret

June 23, 2011 by Jack

Today I wanted to get a few pictures of a sample of the 2010 Noiret to post on a winemaking forum where people were discussing Noiret. While I was at it, I figured, why not take some tasting notes since this wine is coming along pretty well. First, here are the pictures I took:

Much of this post is just copied from what I said on the winemaking forum.

Appearance: Purple-red. Deep concentration of color. Color doesn’t thin much towards edge. Young looking. Still a little hazy. Leaves a ring on the glass.

Nose: Pronounced black and white pepper, blackberry, vanilla, green bell pepper, very nice balance of fruit and spice

Mouthfeel: Good medium body, creamy. Still slightly carbonated. Tannins coat the gums nicely. The wine in the 6.5 gallon carboy is not as tannic as that from the 1 gallon carboy. Time should equalize them. (The 6.5 gallon carboy got 1 2/3 medium toast American oak spirals; the 1 gallon got the other 1/3 spiral.)

Flavor: An attack of green bell pepper seasoned with black & white pepper. Midpalate offers a nice blackberry jam with vanilla. A long, dry finish of strong black pepper follows. A little too tart. This may be caused by slight carbonation or it may just be the TA is too high. Consider cold-stabilizing this wine before bottling.

Before oaking, black pepper and green bell pepper were all that you got from it. I wanted to give it more dimension and create something of a finer wine, so I am oaking it liberally. I started with two medium toast french oak spirals in 8 gallons of wine. When those were spent, I felt it needed more oak, so I racked and added two more of the same spirals. It sat on them for five months before I touched it again. I felt it could use more oak (both flavor and tannin), so two weeks ago I racked and added two medium toast American oak spirals. I felt the French oak might have been a little too subtle, and American might give it the kick in the pants it needed. After just a week with the American oak the wine really began to come to life. After two weeks the tannins are strong and coat your gums nicely. There is a nice vanilla in the nose that comes entirely from the oak. However, all the nuance added by the oak has come at the cost of pepperiness. The black pepper character is not as strong as it was before oaking. But – and that’s a big but – black and white pepper are still the first thing you notice when you smell the wine. It’s just not the same punch in the face it once was. To me, that’s a good thing. It’s more balanced and refined now.

I noticed a similar result when oak was applied to noiret at Liberty Winery in Western NY. Their standard noiret is very, very peppery. Their barrel select noiret has pepper notes, but overall it’s a more balanced fine wine. I like them both ways; it just depends on what you’re in the mood for. If you’re having trouble coaxing pepper out of your noiret, then oak might work against you. But if you’re working with very peppery grapes, oak can create a very nice wine from a half-American grape.

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