So there I am, in my best ex-sommelier fashion, opening up a bottle of wine and presenting it to my husband. He says, "bring it on, baby!" When he lifts the glass to his nose for a serious swirl (he learned something from me), he wrinkles up his nose and says, "honey, if I want to smell that, I'll take the dog for a walk."
"What?" I say, "this is the 2003 Domaine Fourrier Gevrey Chambertin Combe aux Moines." "I don't care what it is," he said. It smells like poop." I lift the glass to my nose and a bit of that wonderful, earthy, Burgundian "barnyard" aroma emerges. Burgundy, sports fans, is French Pinot Noir (if it's red. If it's white, it's Chardonnay, but that's another column.) And yes, many French Pinot Noirs are stinky. Think French cheese... the French love it stinky. And they don't make their Pinot Noir for our palates.
We in the U.S. don't love stinky. We grew up on too-sweet soda, Hawaiian punch and Yoo -Hoo, and we want our Pinot Noirs to taste like cherry cola (not that there's anything wrong with that). Since the hit movie Sideways, California Pinot Noir has been selling like Sno-Cones in the Sahara. And no, it does not smell like a barnyard. It's sweet, with flavors of baking spice, cherries and plums. It's not French, but it's good! For a marvelous example of non-stinky California Pinot, try: Patz & Hall Pinot Noir 2006 Sonoma Coast, California (about $38).