Posts Tagged ‘pinot noir’

By Claire Yeading, Grand Crew Contributor

Are you confused about the health benefits of wine? It’s not surprising! Check out any story in the media and you’ll find literally hundreds of contrasting views. Whereas one story will claim French wines can help keep you looking youthful, maintain a sharp mind, and even reduce the risk of heart disease, other stories tell of the many dangers of alcohol consumption. It’s hard to know what to believe and what to take with a pinch of salt, isn’t it? We all know the risks associated with heavy drinking, but then there is something to be said for the French Paradox – the fact that there are significantly lower cases of heart attack, obesity, and cancer in France — where wine consumption is rife — than in other parts of the world.

It appears that it’s not the wine itself that’s renowned for its health benefits, but rather the type of wine, and the type of grape. For example, white wines are believed to have very limited benefits, whereas certain reds are proven to have many positive effects on human health. The big question is – which wines will give you the greatest benefits?


The Girò grape is thought to have originated in Eastern Spain. Today Girò is commonly found throughout Sardinia, most notably in the Cagliari and Oristano area,s which are two of Sardinia’s biggest and most important wine growing regions. Whilst growing, the grapes produce large quantities of sugar, and they are often left on the vine well after harvesting season, allowing them to shrivel slightly and concentrate the sugars. The result is a very sweet, thick wine similar to a dessert or fortified wine. So what makes Girò so good health-wise? Apart from high quantities of sugar, Girò also contains a large number of Procyanidins – a natural compound frequently found in apples, peanut skin, and cocoa beans. Procyanidins have been found to encourage follicle growth in much the same way as some common alopecia drugs on the market. However, the results are believed to be much more restrained than when using medicines specifically designed for combating male pattern baldness. As a natural solution, however, it’s thought to be very effective.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most widely recognized and widely drunk wines in the world. In fact, go to any bar and order a ‘red wine’ and chances are you’ll end up with a glass filled with a rich and fruity Cabernet Sauvignon. The reason for this is simple – the grape is grown all around the world. In fact, practically all major wine-producing regions will grow and harvest their own Cabernet Sauvignon. The differences in flavor largely come from how long the berries are left on the vine, and the weather conditions. Cooler conditions tend to produce a blackcurrant taste, whereas late harvests tend to create a somewhat sharp and bitter flavor that’s sought after by many. Other than being tasty, how can Cabernet Sauvignon help you? Compounds in the grape’s skin have been found to be a necessary part of wound healing. Research shows that Cabernet Sauvignon can work better at healing wounds than regular applications of lubricants such as petroleum jelly, encouraging faster tissue regrowth over the site of the wound.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is yet another very common grape variety, and one that is grown, harvested, and served throughout the world. However, some connoisseurs argue that Burgundy produces the best Pinot Noir, full of fruit flavours such as strawberries and raspberries, whereas varieties from the US and Australia, for example, have somewhat of a more earthy taste. Regardless of taste, Pinot Noir has the potential to be very good for our health. Why? Because the grape has been found to contain very high levels of quercetin – a flavonoid often found in fruits. Quercetin is one of the most important antioxidants in existence, and boasts a variety of health benefits. Research suggests that the risk of certain cancers, bone conditions, and diseases related to the heart can all be lessened with increased consumption of quercetin. So don’t feel guilty for pouring yourself a glass!

Despite the complex argument over whether wine really is good for you or not, there is significant evidence to suggest that some wines, particularly those made from red grapes, can do more good than harm. If you’re looking for a way to boost your health whilst not giving up all your favorite treats, then indulging in a glass of wine or two every so often is perhaps one of the best ways to maintain a happy and healthy lifestyle.


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While on vacation with the family at beautiful Torch Lake, Michigan, my dad, brother and I decided to spend an afternoon wine tasting in Suttons Bay. We stopped by Black Star Farms Winery, one of their three locations.

As many Northern American wineries over market, Black Star Farms is located on the 45th parallel, just as Bordeaux. Of course, in reality this is irrelevant, because last time I checked, there’s a “small” pond between Bordeaux and Michigan. This 45th parallel reference is nothing more than marketing. What is not marketing is my assessment that this appellation and, in particular, this wine stand alone and side-by-side any top-quality Bordeaux, Alsace, Burgundy, Washington or Oregon wine. Props to the Michigan Visitors’ Center for recommending this winery after I expressed my interest in tasting the best wine in Michigan. I dare say that I think they just may have been right!

So two firsts here, and then I’ll just dive into the juice!

…One, this was my first ever tasting of Michigan wines. Originating from the State Down South, I am not embarrassed to say that Michigan BLEW AWAY Ohio on quality and expression. In fact, I have yet to taste an Ohio wine that I’d recommend.

…Two, I had never tasted, nor had I even heard of a double appellation wine. I didn’t even know this combination was legally permissible within the AVA system. Well apparently it is! And it works!


Leelanau Peninsula Sparkling, Leelanau Peninsula ’08 – $17.50
Notes: fresh bread aromas, great local expression of the “méthode champanoise”
Isidor’s Choice Pinot Noir, Leelanau Peninsula ’11 – $22.50
Notes: Burgundian, mineral, dark chocolate
Arcturos Merlot, Michigan ’10 – $25.00
Notes: beautiful floral notes
Vintners Select, Michigan ’10 – $25.00
Notes: 60/38/2 Cab Franc/Merlot/Syrah, big fruits, jam
Spirit of Apple Brandy – $24.50
Notes: sweet caramel nose, expressive whisky-like flavors, nostalgia of Calvados


Arcturos Pinot Noir Rosé, Old Mission Peninsula ’12 (fruity) – $13.50
Arcturos Pinot Gris, Old Mission Peninsula ’11 (dry Alsatian style) – $15.00
Arcturos Dry Riesling, Old Mission Peninsula ’11 – $15.00


Arcturos Sur Lie Chardonnay, Old Mission Peninsula ’11 – $15.50
Notes: too cosmetic on the nose


Arcturos Pinot Noir, Grand Traverse Co./Leelanau Peninsula ’11 – $22.50
Notes: super light, color and palate
Arcturos Cabernet Franc, Old Mission/Leelanau Peninsula ’11 – $25.00
Notes: big acidity, great floral notes


Leorie Vineyard Merlot Cab Franc, Old Mission Peninsula ’10 – $42.00
Notes: 60/40 blend, too green and way over priced for the quality


Spirit of the Vineyard White Grappa (strong!) – $25.00

In closing, how’z ‘bout some humor? While preparing this post I noticed that the tasting room’s wine list and tasting guide included a Wine Libs game, à la Mad Libs. I thought this was a fun and creative little touch and so I thought I’d do a quick Facebook experiment and share the results, unedited! I filled in the blanks, indiscriminately, in order of my Wall’s responses. Here’s what my friends had to say…

“Your Guide to becoming the world’s greatest wine critic”

This Syrah from Black Star Farms reflects Lee Lutes’ lifelong pursuit of the downward dog. The full-bodied, balanced wine captures a true sense of integrity and metacognition; the vineyard’s well-draining chewing gum stood up to the happy spring of 2011 and the hilltops slope captured the broken leg that followed, resulting in an ideal magnificent balance. Thanks to a week of extended nut shots, this wine’s soft tannins and groovy, full texture is a perfect unicycle for the lush flavors of lychee tulips, and a Chaise lounge of herbs and cloves. Such a quality wine will improve for over a decade, but this bottle’s bright myrrh and intense quadruple-cheese pizza make it absolutely delicious right now.

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This is the first of the 15 wines of summer under $15 from Total Wine in Towson.

I don’t expect much from a $10.99 Pinot from California. Heck, I don’t expect much from a sub $25 Pinot from anywhere. This didn’t change my expectations.

Appellation: Sonoma

Notes: Just barely more than a rose in the glass. Not much on the nose, a little fruit, but more like smelling a glass of water. Fruit is muted, and that’s all that’s there. Thin, disjointed, a little heat at the end. I guess if you got a good chill on it and drank it with some BBQ you’d be happy. OK.

Price: $10.99 at Total Wine

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This is the sixth wine tasted at a Wines of Chile blogger tasting.

Wine #6, 2009 Morande Gran Reserva Pinot Noir.

Appellation:  Casablanca Valley

Notes.  100% Pinot Noir.  Proper color and transparency, very floral notes with red fruit.  Lots of strawberry, some spice.  Acidic.  Off balance to me, I’m unimpressed, but it’s OK.

Rating:  2/5

Price:  $17.99 SRP


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This is part of an ongoing series of posts covering a Wines of Chile Blogger Tasting.

Wine #5:  2009 Cono Sur 20 Barrels Pinot Noir

Appellation:  Casablanca Valley

Notes:  100% Pinot Noir, 14.5% ABV.  Deep color.  Red fruit nose, almost jammy.  Very fruit driven at first, with cherry and strawberry, then some floral and pepper sneak in.  Good acid.  A little off balance to me, but the velvet mouthfeel and good potential for food pairing win me over.  Not really a typical Pinot.

Price:  SRP $32

Rating:  3/5

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This post is part of an ongoing series covering a Wines of Chile Blogger Tasting.

Wine#4 2010 Emiliana Novas Pinot Noir Grand Reserve

Appellation: Casablanca Valley

Notes: 100% Pinot Noir. 14% ABV. This wine has a little funk on the nose. If I didn’t know better, I would think it was from Burgundy; very French. Pepper and fruit undeneath. On the palate, this has nice fruit, great balance, soft tannins, and some acid. Wonderful character and elegance. I am blown away. Blown. Away. This is great wine, and a killer value.

Price: SRP $19

Rating: 5/5

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Domaine Dubreuil-Fontaine Père & Fils “Montrevenots” Beaune Premier Cru 2006
Tasting Notes : 100% pinot noir, avg. 30-year-old vines, pigeage twice daily during fermentation, 15-day maceration, aged 15 months in oak, 15% new oak, 13% vol., less than 2,000 bottles produced. Crystal clear, light ruby red in the glass, classic Burgundy hue. Elegant, sweet and expressive nose with aromas of mild spice and herbs, wintergreen, and fresh red berries. There are lots of red fruits and black cherries in the mouth, accompanied by cupboard spice, a tart and refreshing acidity, a good balance, medium tannins and a well-structured body. Match this beautifully with any classic and hearty French meal of beef, duck or roasted chicken.
Rating : 16/20 (91/100)
Price : ~$50USD @ Domaine Dubreuil-Fontaine Père & Fils

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