Tis indeed an intangible, ethereal beauty that attracts those of a Burgundian bent. Pinot Noir has so many things ‘not’ going for it, in a sense, that you sometimes wonder why its fans, drinkers and winemakers alike, don’t cash in their chips and settle on something more consistent and reliable. Like beer. Or at least Cabernet. But extol the virtues of claret to a Pinot fan, and you’ll get a reaction of either vitriol, disinterest or outright laughter that one could even suggest the two are interchangeable.
‘Cabernet for the head, Pinot for the heart’ has long been the catch-cry, and while one can’t dismiss the possibility that romantics may drink Cab Sav, there is a certain truism in such a statement.
Because the elements of Pinot Noir that would ordinarily turn producers and drinkers off are the very ones that engender its allure and extraordinary degree of respect.
Difficult to grow, incredibly temperamental and sensitive to changes in terroir like no other grape, the production of Pinot is a minefield, an experiment in clones, soil-types, aspect and climate that can take years to get right. If the vintage is slightly cool the fruit can lack flavour development; too hot and it bakes to insipidity.
And even if it’s finally achieved, such are the vagaries that it is susceptible to, both in the vineyard and the winery, and such is the detailed coaxing required to get the best out of the stubborn little fellah that, for us, the drinking public, Pinot Noir tends to be inordinately expensive.
Well, until the New World got hold of it. While Burgundy often remains out of the reach of most ‘gator skin purses, Australia to a degree, and New Zealand, to a very marked degree, have begun to produce exceptional Pinot Noir and, more recently, these wines have been in the ‘affordable’ bracket. While rivalling some of the great French wines in quality, they have their own individuality and character that unmistakeably marks them out as New World. Whereas the French wines tend to have layers of subtle complexity, the local ones can be more about purity of ripe fruit,upfront flavours that develop the earthiness of their Gallic counterparts only with time
Talking about Pinot is a little like dancing about architecture – get in and pull some corks, screw some tops and flip your lid. Pinot is an experience; those who know it well probably skipped this verbiage and went straight for the wine knife. If you are yet to be introduced to its charms, be warned: a more intoxicating and addictive wine is unlikely to pass your lips.
Come and enjoy some Pinots with like minded enthusiasts, we have a Pinot Club every month, check out our website www.glengarry.co.nz/tastings
See you soon