I really like Pinot Noir, which is why I was extremely excited to discover Bouchard Aîné & Fils Pinot Noir this week; it’s a vegan-friendly red Burgundy from Sainsbury’s that has an attention-grabbing £7.50 price tag.
This particular number offered up some medium tannins and faint flavours of fruit, with sour cherry being the most prominent. A little rough and unfinished around the edges, although it did soften when left for an hour or so.
The verdict? Unfortunately, it’s not great.
I prefer to write positive reviews, but you’re never going to enjoy every wine you try. Personally, I found it harsh and lacking in the heady aromas, unique flavours and sensual smoothness that good Pinot Noirs are known around the world for. Expecting much, I have to say I was disappointed in its under-performance. That said, it’s important to remember that wine is extremely subjective, not to mention that one doesn’t expect the world from red Burgundy under £10. Many might find it perfectly delightful, so I’d recommend trying it, at least- and it definitely did improve with some time to breathe.
I’m not entirely surprised by the diluted flavours in this bottle- wine from France under a certain price-point isn’t usually the best quality. They prefer to keep a lot of the best wines to themselves – or at least, make sure we pay up for them.
A Note on French Wines & The Judgment of Paris
I’m pretty sceptical about French wines in general, as I find the attitude (that people should like French wine because French wine is the best wine) a bit tedious. For a long time, France ruled the wine world – there’s a tendency to coast on reputation, assuming that people will drink the wines they have always drunk, purely because they have been told to. Many wine-lovers recall the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976- also known as “Judgment of Paris”, and what is widely considered to be the pinnacle turning point in America’s wine history.
Whilst the French grumble obstinately, Americans remember it proudly; the day a British wine merchant named Steven Spurrier jovially snuck Californian wines into a blind tasting competition, and 11 of the best French wine experts at the time gave the top 5 places to the American wines. Nobody, including Spurrier (who exclusively sold French wines) ever thought that Californian wines could win. This marked a new wave of thinking when it came to wine – the industry exploded into what it is oday, reaching every viable grape-growing country on the planet. Yet, we still find instances of fierce conservatism; the belief that terroir matters more than anything, even the skill of the winemaker; that Old World is the Only World; that screw-caps can never replace corks. The immediate, almost compulsive, rejection of any packaging that is not a heavy glass bottle; labelled with countless details that tell the amateur wine enthusiast, searching for a bottle for dinner, absolutely nothing. And a wine not being labelled as Vegetarian or Vegan is only beginning of that.
That said, I’m trying to overcome that prejudice by trying more French wines. Whilst this one proved underwhelming, it was still nice to find another vegan-friendly red wine in Sainsbury’s. The search goes on!
…Did Somebody Say White Pinot Noir?
For the Pinot Noir lovers out there, I urge you to try White Pinot Noir if you haven’t already. I discovered its existence at a vineyard tour down in Dorset last year – and have to say, Furleigh Estate’s White Pinot Noir is the most memorable glass of the entire tasting. Made from red grapes, it is richer than most white wines, offering delicious baked orchard fruit and zingy-but-sweet honey, orange, and ginger. It’s an unusual find, so it’s likely you’ll have to go to a wine merchants – but it’s 100% worth the trip.
Litmus Wines another English winery making white Pinot, but I am awaiting confirmation that the wine is suitable for vegans.