There’s something about Pinot Noir that can be downright inspirational when it’s made right. When the fruit is allowed to shine and enhanced rather than burdened by oak and its purely Pinot it can be quite magical. At least I know that’s how I feel about Pinot. While I rarely turn down the opportunity to sample one, my expectations are tempered with the knowledge that it takes a lot to impress my palate when it comes to this grape. Today I’m going to look at a brand new release from Veramonte in Chile. Their varietal wines, particularly the Sauvignon Blanc have been consistent values and Primus, their proprietary blend is often a category stand out. The Veramonte 2008 Ritual Pinot Noir is produced using fruit sourced in the Casablanca Valley of Chile. This selection is 100% Pinot Noir. Barrel aging occurred over 12 months in exclusively French oak; 40% of the barrels were new. Highly regarded winemaker Paul Hobbs was a consultant on this project. The suggested retail price for this wine is $17.99.
Ripe wild strawberry, cherry, and fleshy plum aromas waft enticingly from the nose of this South American Pinot Noir. These are joined by hints of rhubarb. Black cherry and strawberry flavors intermingle throughout the gentle but full flavored palate of this wine. A terrific spice component kicks in around mid-palate and continues through the finish which features hints of cocoa, light cherry cola, white pepper, mushroom and emerging earth notes. This wine has silky tannins, excellent acidity and terrific length. It drinks marvelously on its own and will also pair with a wide array of foods. Roast Pork Loin and Mushroom Risotto are the first to spring to mind.
As I mentioned I think good Pinot Noir can be tricky to find. That’s particularly true in the under $20 category. That said, Ritual from Veramonte is one of the best under $20 Pinot’s I’ve had in ages. The price says $17.99 but when you taste it you’ll find it compares favorably to many Pinots in the $30 price range. If you’re a Pinot Noir fan, this is worth making a special effort to seek out.