The 3rd edition of the Modri Les Noirs Festival involves tasting 10 Pinot Noirs while lunching at Michelin-starred restaurant Pri Lojzetu Dvorec Zemono in Vipava Valley.
We were in for a lovely surprise at the third edition of the Modri Les Noirs Pinot Noir Festival held at Michelin-starred restaurant Pri Lojzetu Dvorec Zemono on October 18. The event, organised by Tilia Estate chief winemaker Matjaž Lemut, was meant to take the form of a wine-tasting workshop, which is great. But it turned out to be that plus lunch at Pri Lojzetu restaurant. So we enjoyed some of chef Tomaž Kavčič’s famous dishes and drank the best Pinot Noir wines from Slovenia, Germany, and Croatia.
This year’s Modri Les Noirs festival was kept small and exclusive due to the COVID restrictions, so it was a perfect opportunity to get up close and personal with winemaker Matjaž Lemut, as well as their guest Richard Pfister, a Swiss oenologist and perfumer.
Pinot Noir Aromas: What Do I Smell?
Today, we’re digging deep into the aromas of Pinot Noir. The event kicks off on the beautiful terrace of Zemono Mansion that overlooks the stunning Vipava Valley. With views of vineyards, huge green-yellow patches of fields, dramatic hills and church steeples, we take our first Pinot Noir wine by Burja Estate, vintage 2018.
I love what comes next, a ‘guess the aroma’ game that Richard Pfister leads. What smells can we decipher here? I smell some red currant and grass. “That’s great!” says Richard. Redcurrant and grass contain the aromatic molecule hexanol, which I am able to smell in this wine.
Wines contain many aromatic molecules that help us to associate what we smell in the wine with other various things like fruit, herbs, spices, plants, flowers, and minerals.
10 Pinot Noirs for Tasting
These are the 10 Pinot Noir wines that we’re tasting today during the Modri Les Noir festival at Pri Lojzetu restaurant:
1. Burja, Slovenia (Noir, 2018)
2. Carolina Jakončič, Slovenia (Carolina Pinot Noir, 2016)
3. Heaps Good Wine Company, Slovenia (Pinot Noir, 2016)
4. Pasji rep, Slovenia (Pinot Noir 2018)
5. Saksida, Slovenia (Modri Pinot Saksida Estate 2017)
6. Sanctum, Slovenia (Modri Pinot, 2017)
7. TILIA estate, Slovenia (Pinot Noir White Label, 2017)
8. Weingut RINGS, Pfalz, Kallstadter Steinacker Spatburgunder, Germany (Pinot Noir, 2017)
9. Galić, Croatia (Pinot Crni, 2016)
10. Kristančič, Slovenia (Pavo Modri Pinot, 2016)
Pri Lojzetu Dishes by Tomaž Kavčič
Wine is best enjoyed with food. Here are the dishes that we’re eating while tasting the above Pinot Noirs:
- Amuse-bouche of porcini reduction with truffle foam and truffle shavings, served in an egg-shaped cup.
- What Pri Lojzetu’s culinary team refers to as ‘Fake Risotto’, which is their take on the traditional Italian risotto, but in this case celery root replaces the rice. It’s served with salmon trout cream, freeze-dried tomato, carrot, and parsley.
- ‘Fake Gnocchi’: Pri Lojzetu’s homemade gnocchi, with shrimp reduction and shrimps, topped with pancetta.
- Tomaž Kavčič’s famous ‘Beef soup on the grill’ which is a traditional Slovenian beef soup (a typical Slovene Sunday dish) featuring grilled steak.
- Dessert: Warm štruklji filled with roasted walnuts, topped with a butter and breadcrumb sauce, alongside homemade pumpkin-seed-oil ice cream.
Common Pinot Noir Aromas
Pinot Noir wines are characterised by the following aromas and their chemical molecular compounds:
|Aromas||Chemical molecular composition|
|Blueberry||Myrtenol, Methyl butyrate|
|Raspberry||Ethanal, Alpha-ionone, Myrtenol, Frambinone, Hexanol|
|Strawberry||Furaneol, Ethyl butyrate, Eugenol, Vanillin|
|Cherry||Benzaldehyde, Benzyl acetate, Benzaldehyde cyanhydrine|
|Black pepper||Alpha-phellandrene, Caryophyllene, Linalool, Rotundone, beta-Pinene|
|Rose||Phenylethylic alcohol, Citronellol, Geraniol, Damascone, Damascenone, Nerol|
|Brown tobacco||Phenylacetic acid, Damascenone|
Modri Les Noirs by Tilia Estate
Organised by TILIA Estate – House of Pinots, Modri Les Noirs is the name of the festival that is dedicated solely to the Pinot Noir grape variety. It is the only Pinot Noir festival and masterclass to be held in Slovenia and southeastern Europe.
This year, it was organised for the third time in a row, under the direction of oenologist Matjaž Lemut from TILIA Estate, Vipava Valley. It was dedicated to discovering the aromas of different Pinot Noirs. The main guest was Richard Pfister, a Swiss perfumer and oenologist, and Scientific Secretary at the International Organisation of the OIV (The International Organisation for Vine and Wine).
Richard Pfister—Swiss Oenologist & Perfumer
Richard Pfister is a research associate at The International Organisation for Vine and Wine and a renowned perfumer. Educated as an oenologist, he lectures at prestigious oenological academies in Switzerland, and Bordeaux and Dijon in France. He’s renowned as a valued wine appraiser and consultant to many world-renowned winemakers.
His famous book, Les Parfums du Vin (The Perfumes of Wine), deals with the sensory analysis of wines. It is a textbook that deals with wine perfumery and the role of aromas and sensory properties in wine, in which Pfister lists more than 152 aromas.
Richard Pfister On Wine Aromas & Their Importance
Each wine is made up of hundreds of aromatic molecules. Of course, not all of them can be identified. But still, the more we are trained in sensory recognition, the more accurately we will be able to discover the aromatic profile of the wine. It is an interdisciplinary field that helps winemakers to better understand what happens during wine production and what happens in the vineyards, in order to more effectively influence the aromas they want to express in their wines.
“There is a great charm and quite a bit of hedonistic pleasure hidden in all this.”Richard Pfister—Swiss Oenologist & Perfumer
It is also an increasingly attractive area for wine lovers who train their skills in sensory training. Precise tasting is, after all, also an important tool for wine professionals. There is a great charm and quite a bit of hedonistic pleasure hidden in all this.