Old World Pinot Noir from the New World

llai llai3CorksRATING – 3 corks out of 5 When wine drinkers think of the long ribbon of vineyards that forms Chile’s wine regions, we think of bold and robust reds like Carmenere or Cabernet Sauvignon. But Pinot Noir? Who would’ve thought?…

A review of this wine, Llai Llai Pinot Noir Bio Bio Vineyard 2008, wouldn’t be complete without a little back-story.  First, the vineyards are located 300 miles south of Santiago, in the southernmost wine-growing area in Chile.  That’s way far away from the Equator… But the distant latitude creates  a cool climate, which explains how it’s possible to make respectable Pinot Noir in Chile.

The Llai Llai winery also began as a joint venture between Chile’s Bodegas Corpora and — wait for it — Burgundy’s Boisset Group. So winemakers from the Mecca of Pinot Noir brought their expertise to this New World outpost. Pierre Marchand and Louis Vallet actually make wine in Burgundy after the fall harvest, and then high-tail it to the Southern Hemisphere to work the opposite-season harvest there.

So what about the wine? Well, Chile is undeniably a New World wine region, but you’d never know it from sampling this wine. Llai Llai Pinot Noir drinks as though it fell off a truck somewhere in Burgundy. The appearance is delicate and ruby-colored, and the nose offers a hint of delicate cedar and mushroom. The palate leads with tart berries and — let me say it again — delicate spice notes. The finish has a little tannic grip, which is surprising in a Pinot that was aged only 50% in oak. I think it just needs a little time to soften up.

Long back-story short — if you favor the style of Burgundy and Oregon, you’ll appreciate this as a well-made, well-structured Pinot Noir. Especially at the value price of $12 -$13. That’s a cool $10 or $20 less than any quality wine from the other regions. Enjoy!

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