Monday, September 28, 2015

Patagonia's Dark Vision Of Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir wines made in the southern part of South America, Patagonia, have a tendency to be extremely earthy and bold. Barda is no exception, although it does show more fruit than I expected.

The Barda Pinot Noir is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes grown in Argentina’s Patagonia region. Patagonia is the southernmost region in South America, but it’s a vast expanse. Bodega Chacra is in the Rio Negro Valley, in the more northern part of Patagonia. It is actually much closer to Buenos Aires than to the southern tip of the continent. Still, it’s a good 600 miles from the South American metropolis.

The Chacra website explains the Rio Negro geography a bit more: “The property's situation in the arid central Argentine desert is tempered by the confluence of the Neuquen and Limay Rivers, both of which flow from the Andes and converge in the Rio Negro, which in turn flows into the Atlantic. The Rio Negro Valley itself is a glacial bed 15.5 miles wide stretching 310 miles along the river's banks at an elevation of 750 feet above sea level. The valley is irrigated by a network of channels excavated in the late 1820s by British colonists who observed the abundant snow melt flowing from the Andes and created an oasis in the middle of the desert.”

The wine’s alcohol content is a low, low 13.2% abv. Aging occurred over twelve months in French oak barrels.

Very dark purple, Barda Pinot Noir 2014 has a nose defined by earth. The minerals lead the raspberry aromas around on a leash, although other Patagonian Pinots I've tried have been even earthier. There is an herbal scent as well, but the profile is all about the dirt. On the palate, the fruit gets to show off a little more. Raspberry and black cherry are most noticeable, with the minerals making a play of their own here, too. It is a bit one-dimensional. The tannic structure and acidity are both vigorous, and the finish is lengthy.

Lamb is a popular meat in Argentine Patagonia, and it will meld wonderfully with a dark and rich wine such as this one. I would also like it with Merguez sausage, a more traditional chorizo or even just plain skirt steak.