Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Grape Of The Week: Pinot Noir

The Prima Donna of wine grapes, Pinot Noir is a variety that has had people head over heels and producers ripping their hair out for years.

PN is like a diva who demands a lot on her rider in order to perform properly: cool temperatures but enough warmth to ripen, just enough sun but not too much that it bakes, not too much water but enough  to avoid drought, a room for it's travelling pool table and a framed picture of Princess Diana.
If you provide everything it needs, though, the wine has the potential to be breathtaking - both delicate and powerful, intricate but simply amazing.

Burgundy in France is without doubt the most famous region in the world for Pinot Noir, probably followed by Martinborough in New Zealand. Both areas, among many others around the world, have just the right climate to grow and produce amazing Pinot Noir.

The grape also plays a big part in the production of wines in Champagne too, as the most grown of the 3 grape varieties used in the region's production. Pinot Noir is what brings structure and length to the blend. It provides the back-bone in some of the finest Champagnes and is the key dominant variety in Krug's Grande Cuvée.

The trick with finding a good Pinot Noir at your budget is knowing where to look. If you are wanting to stick to under £10 per bottle, you will get the best results looking somewhere like the South of France or Chile, where amazing value can be found. £10 isn't exactly cheap for a bottle of wine by any means but you wont get much at all for less than £7 when buying PN.

An excellent example at an affordable price is from Luis Felipe Edwards in Chile. Their 2012 Pinot Noir Reserva is a good example of what an affordable Pinot has to offer, with plenty of up-front red fruit flavours and refreshing acidity. This is not the most intricate of wines by any means but it is certainly pleasant and perfect if you like something not too full bodied and powerful. This particular wine is currently available from Majestic for £7.99

Going to totally the other end of the scale, and to the home of the grape variety, prices soar. Something like Chapelle-Chambertin Grand Cru 2006 from Louis Jadot, which is available from The Wine Society for the bargain price of £90 per bottle (cough, cough) really shows how breathtaking these wines can be.

Made from grapes grown on vines that were planted 70 years ago, the flavour concentration here is immense and the complexity is unimaginable. It is so hard to describe a wine at that sort of price, but when you taste it, it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. If you are feeling generous this Christmas, you can should definitely pick up a case to give to the milkman - he has been working hard all year, and it can't be easy having all those affairs...

Since I banged on about it before, I couldn't miss out on suggesting a bottle of Champagne too. Probably the most famous Pinot Noir dominated Champagne would have to be Bollinger, the favourite of James Bond.

Bollinger is firm, robust and full bodied - it doesn't mess around, and I love it for that. The Bollinger NV Special Cuvée can be picked up from a few places and most supermarkets, but Fraziers Wine Merchants are listing it at £28.95 so you should definitely grab a bottle or 12 because the snow is on it's way and you need booze. Or something like that. Just shut up and buy Champagne...

So, if you haven't been slipped a bit of Pinot before, then you should try it. As they say, once you go Noir, you don't go back.

(Sorry, that was awful...)

Header image taken from wine_scribbler's photostream, under the creative commons license.

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