Maker: Chateau Aeronautique, Jackson, Michigan
Place of origin: Michigan, USA
Grape: Pinot Noir (100%?)
ABV: Unknown, but seems high.
Price: $25 (Michigan by the Bottle wine club)
Appearance: Translucent ruby. Thick, juicy legs.
Nose: Alcohol, oak, sweet cherry, blueberry.
Palate: Medium bodied and blandly fruity. Roasted plantain, blueberry.
Finish: Slightly tart, slightly tannic.
Parting words: “Ham fisted” is one of my favorite idioms in the English language. Its origins are uncertain but it may be connected to the use of the word “ham” to describe an awkwardly bad, over-the-top actor. It’s a phrase that perfectly describes the winemaking style at Chateau Aeronautique. ChA’s aggressive, alcohol-heavy style can work well with bold reds like Cab Franc and the wines of their Aviatrix series but is not well suited to wines like the last ChA wine I reviewed, the 2012 Riesling or this Pinot Noir.
The “Bull in a china shop” is the idiom that describes this specific wine the best. Pinot Noirs with power can be enjoyable but that power must be balanced with fruit and earth (or other aromas) or else the grape loses its distinctiveness. That is what happened here. All that said, I don’t think ChA’s 2011 Pinot Noir is awful (although my usually easy to please wife did). It’s just that, like the Riesling, it’s out of balance. All nuance is smashed to bits on the horns of its aggression. At $25 from a boutique producer I expect better. Chateau Aeronautique’s 2011 Pinot Noir is not recommended.