Why you should be drinking and falling in love with it.
Pinot Noir…….why you should be drinking and falling in love with it.
Pinot Noir wines are some of the best wines in the world but oddly enough it is not a popular wine when compared to Cabs, Merlot and table reds. It should, however, be on your list to try and for good reason as Pinot Noir is widely considered the best wine in the world due to its’ character and ability to stand many years (sometimes decades) of aging. The following short article will give information on the wine and why it should not be shied away from.
Pinot Noir is considered a dry wine but it does not pack the punch like cabs, zinfandels or big red blends. Rather, Pinot Noir is subtle, almost reserved in some ways, but if you like wines that will blow you away with complexity, velvet finish, ability to cellar and ease of drinking then the Pinot Noir has to be at the top of your list.
Pinot Noir is the 10th most planted grape varietal in the world but it is one of the hardest and most fickle grapes to grow. This grape is known to drive winemakers mad because its’ very thin skin makes it susceptible to damage, grows in tight clusters, does not put out large amounts of fruit and ripens late in the wine growing season (bringing weather into play). All of these attributes make this wine susceptible to rotting on the vine, mold and having the harvest ruined. This particular grape wants very specific growing conditions too – it wants cool mornings, warm afternoons and nights that are cool, foggy and damp but not cold. The soils have to be well drained and the vines only produce good quality grapes when there are few nutrients in the soil. This grape yearns to be starved and made to work hard to produce just a little bit of fruit. In short, this grape has to be pampered and this is why this wine is truly considered the high maintenance mistress of the wine world. Fortunes have been made with this grape but plenty have been lost on it too!
If the winemaker/grower can get a harvest of these fickle grapes then the results are a wine that is light ruby in color with dominate tastes of fruit such as raspberry, cranberry or cherries. The finish is velvety and long with hints of mineral, spice and rich undertones. This wine is known to pair well with salmon and other fatty fish, roasted chicken, mushroom dishes, lamb or chargrilled meats. Personally, Pinot Noir is my favorite wine varietal by a long way because it is able to pair with a wide variety of foods, does not pack that tannic punch that Cabs and Zinfandel wines do and has the mysterious character that you have to really look for in wines. A good Pinot is something to behold and will blow you away.
Pricing on Pinot Noir is typically higher than other wines because of the low yield on grapes and the fickle nature of making wine with them. Remember, the wine maker has to tend to this grape whereas other grape varietals can be much easier to deal with. There are, however, some very good Pinots that don’t break the bank. Brands such as Parducci, Firesteed, Erath, Cline and William Hill are just a few that can be found for less than $16 per bottle. Note, I would stay away from cheap Pinot (less than $9) because I have yet to find one that is worth a darn. Remember, Pinot is hard to grow and when you find a cheap one it is probably cheap for a reason so best to save the money and put another couple dollars on it for one of the brands above. A particular favorite of mine is the Coppola Director’s Cut Pinot Noir ($24 but goes on sale at $19.99 often). This is a great wine for the money! It has all the qualities of a great Pinot Noir including color, easy to drink, velvety texture of ripe cherry and black berries and a spice undertone. The finish is long and smooth but not bold. At around $24 this wine is outstanding and could easily pass for a $40 offering. Another great option is the Louis Jadot Pinot Noir or the King Estate Willamette Valley Pinot. Both of these are excellent and both are under $30.
A couple interesting notes on the Pinot Noir grape. This grape is also used in making Champagne. In fact, this is the primary grape in really good Champagne in France – like the $1000 bottle type of good Champagne. The Pinot Noir grape is also the primary grape used in making the world-renowned wines of the Burgundy region in France. These particular wines are highly sought after and are often well into the three figures per bottle and more! The Pinot Noir grape is also very closely related to the Pinot Grigio (Pinot Gris) grape that is becoming widely known for fun white wines that are very fruit forward and mildly sweet. Finally, it has been scientifically stated that the healthiest red wine in the world is in fact the Pinot Noir varietal. Pinot Noir has a high level of Resveratrol - an antioxidant compound that has been shown to improve heart health by lowering bad cholesterol and lowering blood pressure.
The next time you are looking for a wine to try, think about the Pinot Noir. They are underappreciated and that simply should not be the case. This varietal is the backbone of many of the world’s best wines and for good reason. This is a wine that can be savored slowly as it will not punch you in the mouth like Cabs and red Zins. This wine is a gentle wine that will sooth your soul and make your heart smile!
Written by: Ron Hansen