Pinot Noir, oh pinot noir, how much I love thee. A lot. I have to say that of all the hundreds of different red wine varieties out there, pinot noir is one of my all-time favorites. It’s not just because of its elegance and it being one of the most romanticized wines out there, it’s because of its versatility. Pinot noir is a pain in the ass to grow, but when done right, boy oh boy, is it a beautiful thing. I have had the privilege of enjoying a myriad of different pinots and almost every one of them has had its own unique profile. I have had pinots that are grown right across the street from one another and each tasted completely different. It’s a wine that can be described as fruity, earthy, acidic, floral, austere, dry, light, full-bodied, effeminate, minerally, aromatic, etc. There is a pinot for every category of style. It is also one among a very small number of red wines that can pair well with just about everything from fish to meats to sweets. It’s the perfect wine to bring to a dinner party, for a date, for sipping, for chugging, for any occasion. I simply love pinot.
You can find pinot being grown all over the world. It most notably comes from the regions of France, California and Oregon. Now areas in New Zealand and Australia have been gaining recognition for their pinot productions. The grape originally hales from France, specifically the Burgundy region. Burgundy arguably produces the best pinots in the world and is home to the king of kings of pinot, Domaine de la Romanee-Conti. Pinot noirs produced by Romanee-Conti are the best of the best and some of the most expensive pinots in the world. By expensive I mean an arm and a leg and then some, as several of their recent vintages have been known to be priced over $10,000. Yes…, over 10 grand. That’s why only a very lucky few have had the privilege to enjoy such a treat. No, I am not one of them, yet. It gets better as some of their older vintages can go for over $25,000. It’s okay to dream though. I definitely do. Romanee-Conti is a very special pinot and is one worth dreaming about. It’s the ultimate representation of how versatile pinot can be. The vintners have been using the same method for hundreds of years to make the wine since the wineries birth. Though through time, tweaks and changes have been applied as technology and farming has changed. This evolution has helped to produce very different and unique pinots from the same producer. Each is a representation of the year of its conception and the artist behind its design. This is true for almost all artisan pinot noirs out there.
Burgundy isn’t the only area in France that produces pinots however. It can be found in the Loire Valley, Sancerre and other smaller regions as well. The pinots produced here can be very reminiscent of the Burgundian pinots except they can be a little softer and more floral. Pinot is grown all across Europe and has taken on different names, such as pinot nero in Italy. This Italian pinot is another example of that infamous old world style with more floral and earthy tones with minerality, brisk acidity, and subtle fruit notes. The styles produced out of California, Oregon, Washington, New Zealand, Australia, and really anywhere outside of Europe are what we like to call the new world style. These pinots tend to be a little less earthy and austere, and instead are more fruit forward with berry notes while still retaining that brisk acidity.
Despite it being grown all over the world, it is not an easy grape to grow. It can be compared to a child. It needs constant care, attention, and needs to be nurtured. It likes moderately cooler climates with little variation in temperature. This is why it does so well in coastal regions and valleys, because each has the unique ability to stay cooler longer. It can’t be over watered, it can’t have too much sunlight, and it can’t get too hot or too cold. Okay, all that being said, I realize that it’s more of a brat. There are many different tricks that vintners discover and utilize when growing and nurturing pinots. In turn, this has a huge effect on the taste and profiles of pinots, hence its versatility. Each one is unique due to the land it’s grown upon and the vintner that grows it.
Get out there and enjoy a pinot and share your thoughts with me.