News from North America

California & Oregon
The USA is easily the second largest Pinot producing country in the world, led by California, whose Pinot industry I have been following closely since the late 1980s. Oregon has caught the international imagination though volumes are far smaller than in California. The talking point at the moment is how many Burgundians have established Oregonian connections: Drouhin began thirty years ago and more recently Jacques Lardière, Dominique Lafon, Jean-Nicolas Meo and Alexandrine Roy have all become involved in projects there.

I have yet to visit the beautiful Okanagan valley, or indeed Ontario, but I did have the opportunity to taste a wide variety of Canadian Pinots in London in May. Wines from Averill Creek, Cedar Creek and Meyer Family (all British Columbia) along with Ontario’s Thomas Bachelder, Queylus and Norman Hardie all caught my interest. Report follows.


Pinot worldwide

New Zealand
My first visit to NZ was at least 20 years ago – by which time it was already clear that Pinot was going to be the number one red wine grape variety for this wonderful country. Since then I have visited at least half a dozen times and got to know the regions, the sub-regions and many of the dynamic, exuberant and frequently irreverent vignerons. Much more to follow!

I had the extraordinary pleasure of taking part with Winart magazine in a blind tasting in Tokyo of 40 different Japanese Pinots, 15 from Hokkaido, 14 from Nagano and the remainder from points south and west. My impression from visiting Hokkaido in 2015 and Nagano in 2016 is that it is going to be hard to make creditable Pinot Noir in a country with such high humidity. This tasting caused me to revise those first conceptions. I scored eight wines at 90 or above (5:3 to Hokkaido) with a further half dozen close behind. Report follows shortly.

The monumental Wine Grapes tome from the three Js, Robinson, Harding and Vouillamoz, informs me that there is as much Pinot grown in Australia as New Zealand. The largest contributor is Victoria, with Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula in starring roles. I had the pleasure of moderating the 2013 Mornington Peninsula International Pinot Celebration and hope to get back there sometime soon.

Continental Europe
Did you know that Moldova was the fourth-largest producer of Pinot Noir in the world? Germany is third, and I hope to explore Pinots from both Germany and Switzerland much more closely in the near future.