STANGELAND PINOT NOIR, 2005

This record is incredibly sensual and elegant, yet powerful and moving. It is brimming with, for lack of a better term, soul. A wine that makes one feel all of these things and can, in it's truest and best form, have soul is Pinot Noir. I've covered Pinot before, but in a different vein. It's not always sensual and elegant, though it really should be.

Burgundy is the birth place of Pinot and it produces wine with such intricacy and nuance that experts can tell the difference between wines made with grapes that are grown in vineyards merely a few feet away from each other. This is where the soul comes in--a sense of place and time. Pinot allows you to taste through the wine to reach the earth that it came from. It can be that
transcendent drinking experience where you are almost too busy burying
your entire face in the glass to even think about tasting the wine. But in that glass you've smelled the rains of the vintage, sensed the people that have toiled over the vines, seen the place where these grapes were born, grew and were ultimately sacrificed to create this beautiful liquid.

Burgundy is the pinnacle of any wine fanatic's obsession. It is said that though you may start with other, lesser wines you will end up drinking only Burgundy. I've seen this with my wine connoisseur friends, some of whom collect Burgundy almost exclusively. I've felt it myself too, been bitten by the bug. In my days as a wine buyer at tastings I'd make a B-line for the Burgundies, try and get a swig before the vultures started circling and the bottles dried up.

The problem with Burgundy though, perhaps it's most fatal flaw, is that it is SO DAMNED EXPENSIVE! I can't afford to drink Burgundy... hardly anyone can. My wine collector friends are only able to do it because they are old and they are rich. No regular guys like me can drop $60 on a bottle every day. It's just not a working man's beverage, unless that man happens to work at Haliburton or maybe a vineyard in Burgundy. So what is a young, burgeoning Pinot enthusiast to do?

Well you can try and find a good Bourgogne Rouge, the lowest designation given to a wine in Burgundy, and therefore the cheapest. But, with the weak dollar and the cost of importation these can still set you back anywhere from $20 to $30 bucks. This isn't so bad, but if you're willing to spend that much, why not go for our own homegrown Oregon Pinot Noir? It's as close as you can get to Burgundy outside of France, and you can find decent ones as cheap as $18. Willamette is a great area to find Oregon Pinots that resemble their Burgundian cousins. More earthy and subtle than California Pinots, they can be a truly sensual, elegant yet powerful and moving experience. And (somewhat rare for American wines) you can taste the place in the wines. They can have soul.

This 2005 Pinot from Stangeland is a great example coming in at the $25 price range. I don't know much about this winery but from the looks of their website it is a nice little place producing affordable estate grown wine. This bottle, made from grapes from the Stand Sure vineyard is a great classic Pinot. The nose explodes with cranberry, violet and cola notes. In the mouth there is more red fruit, tart cherries and earthy mushroomy notes. It has a brilliant acidity which is a hallmark of good Pinot, making it a great food wine. Each sip wipes your palate clean of the food you've just swallowed and urges you on to take another bite, then another sip, then another bite, etc.

All and all a worthy companion to the sultry tunes of Nina Simone. The wine will wipe your mind clean of what you've had to swallow that day, make you want to take another sip, listen to another song, take a big gulp, and listen some more.