Mon 9 Aug 2010
Sometimes the story is almost as interesting as the wine. The wine in question is the Llai Llai Pinot Noir 2008, from Chile’s Bio Bio region, 300 miles south of Santiago and the southernmost of the narrow country’s vineyard areas.
Pierre Marchand, head winemaker for Bodegas Corpora, has been the winemaker for several prestigious producers in Burgundy, including Domaine Bruno Clair, Domaine Comte Armand and Domaine de la Vougeraie. In 1999, he joined the Boisset Group and went to work for the company’s joint venture in Chile with Corpora. When Boisset sold its share in the venture, Corpora took Marchand on as chief winemaker to oversee production for all its labels. Marchand does this while he continues to produce a negociant label in Burgundy under his own name. Making wine in Burgundy in one season and in South American at the following harvest must build up the frequent flyer miles. Winemaker for Llai Llai is Louis Vallet, another Burgundian who works two harvests a year, six months and many thousands of miles apart.
Despite their Burgundian orientation, Vallet and Marchard do not impose a classic (or trite) framework on Llai Llai Pinot Noir 2008, allowing for the individuality dictated by a rather exotic location for the grape. The wine sees some oak, but it’s a 50/50 combination of one-year-old French oak and stainless steel for 11 months, so any wood influence is persuasive yet gentle. The color is a lovely medium ruby with a magenta glow. The bouquet wafts a sweet exhalation of cloves and sassafras, dried red currants, tobacco leaf and spiced and macerated plums. This pinot noir is quite dry, lively and spicy, with flavors of red currants, cranberries and mulberries that unfurl a touch of cinnamon and a hint of briers and clean earth and enough tannin to make it slightly chewy. All factors are deftly handled, so the wine feels light without being tenuous and fleshed-out without being obvious. Alcohol content is 13.4 percent. Drink now through 2012. Very Good+. About $13, a Raving Bargain.
Imported by W.J. Deutsch & Sons, Harrison, N.Y. A sample from a broker.