75cl * 13.5% ABV * Provence, France
Whilst many people would assume that the south of France is too warm to grow quality Pinot Noir, Valmoissine is located on a cooler high-altitude site of an ancient monastery close to the Verdon gorge (Europe's version of the Grand Canyon). As an example of how chilly it can get, when John Malkovich bought an estate nearby in the mid-90s his A-list guests quickly nick-named it "Little Siberia" as the temperature was often at least 10C cooler than their estates only an hour's drive south in St Tropez. Valmoissine is also incidentally the heart of the truffle hunting capital of France.
I digress, but Pinot Noirs from this region actually have a long history and were very popular during the reign of Louis XIV as he was said to prefer them to Burgundy. For some reason, possibly anti-monarchist feeling (vive la republique!), they fell out of fashion during the 18th century.
Latour is an important négociant in Burgundy and was more than aware that the increase in Burgundy pricing was pushing traditional customers away, so wanted to produce an affordable Pinot Noir made with traditional Burgundian techniques. Hence this Valmoissine version. Think Burgundy on a road trip to the Riviera...
Yields are kept incredibly low, much like they do for Grand Cru vineyards, and the fruit is destemmed before fermentation in open stainless-steel vats. No oak. No fuss. Just as you would get in a Burgundian Domaine. This means you get just the essence of the fruit.
In the glass we have aromas of Morello cherries, plums and cranberries, delicate wild herbs and dried strawberries then summer pudding on the palate with a rather savoury and slightly saline fresh finish. Great with charcuterie, and turkey at Christmas, or cold cuts in the summer... or as the Jamaican Observer newspaper recommends "Braised Local Root Beer Goat."
Unusually for a Pinot Noir this wine shows its best at room temperature (18C - 20C) having been decanted for an hour or so.