Four wines: A, B, C & D. Four tasters: Josh, Liz, Amy & Pete. Notes are a combination of mine and those of the other tasters.
Makers: Revealed at the end.
Grape: Pinot Noir
Places of origin (in no particular order): Lake Michigan Shore AVA, Old Mission Peninsula AVA, Willamette Valley AVA, Oregon, Russian River Valley AVA, California.
A: 14.5%, B: 11.6%, C: 13.1%, D: 14.3%
A: $23, B: $18, C: $15, D: $14
A: Dark ruby.
B: Light. Translucent.
C: Medium dark red.
D: Darkest. Brick red.
A: Cherry jam, plum, cedar.
B: Wild blackberry, hint of brett (fades quickly), wet earth, black pepper, cedar.
C: Mild compared to the others. Crushed strawberry, a little oak.
D: Crushed mulberry, oak, coffee, pepper.
A: Cherry juice, black pepper, smoke, almost no acid.
B: Light mouthfeel. Broken grape stem, tangy. Raspberry, toasted oak.
C: Light bodied. Strawberry, red currant, lightly acidic.
D: Black current jam, blackberry, lemon, earth.
A: A little oak, black cherry.
B: Chewy. One taster noted an unpleasant aftertaste.
C: Toasted French oak, a little fruit.
D: Light. Fruity with a little oak and leather.
A: De Loach PN, Russian River Valley AVA, Sonoma County, California.
B: Domaine Berrien PN, Martha’s & Katherine’s Vineyards, DB estate, Lake Michigan Shore AVA, Michigan.
C: Chateau Chantal PN, Old Mission Peninsula AVA, Traverse City, Michigan.
D: Kirkland Signature PN, Willamette Valley AVA, Oregon.
Parting words: I got idea for this head to head after I noticed that I had purchased a lot of 2016 Pinot Noir in the past couple months. I thought comparing an LMS Pinot to an OMP Pinot and comparing both of them to ones from Oregon and Sonoma might be a fun and educational excercise. They had to be around the same price, too, to keep us from tasting the price differences rather than the terroir and technique of the wine makers.
I know this is a Michigan wine blog, but I will say that my personal favorite was the Kirkland. It was the most balanced and was a delight to drink from beginning to end. My least was the De Loach. It tasted overripe and was nothing but sweet fruit. Of the two Michigan wines, the Chateau Chantal Pinot was the most balanced and drinkable, but it was very mild compared to the others. I’ve complained about this before. Domaine Berrien was good, but tasted a little green and unrefined compared to the others. I know from experience, though, the Wally’s wines can take a while to blossom, even in a warm vintage like 2016. Another year or two in the bottle is recommended for DB PN.
The other tasters varied in their choices, but the differences were all a matter of taste not of disagreement of quality or flaws. One taster liked the fruity sweetness of De Loach, but disliked Domaine Barrien strongly. Another found Chateau Chantal delightful, but Kirkland overbearing.
These are all good value wines. Kirkland and Chateau Chantal are recommended. Domaine Berrien is recommended with further cellaring and De Loach is mildly recommended.