Pinot Noir - A Difficult Problem Child Comes Good.

Lets face it - Pinot Noir is a difficult, problem grape!!!

It's hard to get a consistent, great Pinot Noir. To grow great Pinot Noir, you must overcome a multitude of problems, starting with the plant - as Pinot Noir is genetically unstable. A parent plant can produce an offspring with wildly different berry size and shape and even flavour.  Pinot Noir is also a bit like that sickly child: it seems to pick up every known vine disease, mould, fungus and pest. And it's an early ripening variety so spring frosts are hazardous. When picked too late the thin-skinned berries will shrivel up and lose all flavour. The grape's tendency to produce tightly packed clusters makes it susceptible to several viticultural hazards involving rot that require diligent canopy management. The thin-skins and low levels of phenolic compounds lends Pinot to producing mostly lightly colored, medium bodied low tannin wines that can often go through dumb phases with uneven and unpredictable aging.

So why even bother?

Because Pint Noir is widely considered to produce some of the finest sublime wines in the world.  In March 2013, six magnums of 1995 DRC sold for $27,300 USD a piece.

Pinot Noir is one of France’s ancient grapes dating back to the 1st century. Cistercian Monks cultivated the grape in Burgundy and many of the oldest monasteries still stand.

The name is derived from the French words for pine and black; the pine alluding to the grape variety having tightly clustered, pine cone-shaped bunches of fruit. Pinot noir is also a primary variety used in sparkling wine and Champagne.

For lovers of Pinot Noir, Burgundy is undoubtedly the Holy Grail. Located 320 kilometres southeast of Paris, with wineries that have long produced incomparable vin de terroir, Burgundy is as famous for its idiosyncrasies as for its rare vintages. Burgundy is a unique mix of historic towns and vineyards, great wines, and thousands of stubbornly individualistic wine makers, brokers, and merchants.  The best pinot noirs come from Côte d'Or, an abbreviation of Côte d'Orient or 'eastern slope'. The best vineyards here lie along a narrow band of limestone facing south east to maximise exposure to the sun.

Closer to home,  James Halliday says “The three regions that produce most of Australia’s best Pinot Noirs are (in alpha order) the Mornington Peninsula, Tasmania and Yarra Valley. The most conspicuous exceptions are Gippsland and Geelong thanks to the contributions of Bass Phillip and by Farr. The Macedon Ranges is also in the fore-front.” We’d like to add the Great Southern Region of WA to this list as we think it’s highly suited to growing good quality Pinot Noirs, and our drinking experience confirms this.

Across the ditch, the Central Otago, Martinborough and Marlborough wine regions of New Zealand are also known for their exceptional Pinot Noirs.

When it comes to food, Pinot Noir is  a catch-all. It is light enough for salmon but complex enough to hold up to some richer meats. Its one of those wines that is a winner with everyone, even when they order a vastly different entree at a restaurant.

With Autumn now here, it’s a great time to drink Pinot Noir. It will still need a light chill as it is best drunk at about 16 degrees Celsius. Like any wine, if drunk above its ideal temperature, the aromas will be stripped of their finesse and hidden by a sensation of alcohol. Conversely if it is too warm, then it would eliminate the nuances in the flavours. But most importantly, decanting is an absolute MUST for Pinot Noir.  Ideally it is best to decant while waiting for the Pinot Noir to reach your desired temperature.

We would love you to have a look at for some really nice Pinot Noirs from Grapes and Lager.    


Enjoy :)

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