A spotlight on Pinot Noir

A spotlight on Pinot Noir

“A fickle heart is the only constant in this world.” – Diana Wynne Jones, Writer

It was as if this famous author was taking about the grape variety Pinot Noir when she wrote this line. Undoubtedly the most notoriously temperamental grape variety of all, Pinot Noir has often proved difficult to grow. The thin-skinned fruit ripens too quickly in a hot climate or can fail to ripen at all when it is a little too cold, resulting in the lack of lush fruit and alluring perfume in the final embodiment. Moreover, the tightly packed clusters make it highly prone to rotting. However, once it is successful it is able to produce some of the finest wines in the world, rewarding all the 'Pinot Noir lovers' for their outstanding patience in the tireless hunt for the utopian wine.

Chiefly associated with the Burgundy region of France, New Zealand has joined the ranks and has long claimed to make the best Pinot outside Burgundy. With the world's most southerly planted grape vines, the regions of Marlborough and Central Otago on the South Island produce some of the most distinctive examples with incomparable regional diversity. Neighbouring Australia is also more than capable of producing great Pinot Noir. Wines of excellent depth, layered with rich fruit and extraordinarily subtle tannins come from the areas of Victoria, Geelong and Yarra Valley.

But it is America’s Pacific North-West that has staked its wine reputation on cool-climate Pinot Noir with great success. The coastal sites of California, especially Sonoma, Santa Maria and the Sta. Rita Hills (north of Santa Barbara) have proven to be rather cosy for the sensitive vines. The pioneers of Pinot Noir in America, David and Diana Lett of Eyrie Vineyards, planted the first vines in Willamette Valley back in 1965. They continue to produce finely crafted, excellent Pinot Noirs until this day (we are really proud to be one of a few wine merchants in the UK to stock their rare wines), but the competition is tough and many other great producers have emerged within only a few decades.

In 1982 Pinot Noir was taken to new heights thanks to the Au Bon Climat winery in Santa Barbara County. Producing wines in a very Burgundian style, they use only the finest French oak from François Frères and their ‘La Bauge’ Pinot Noir, combining cherry and plum fruit with a seductive spicy edge enveloped in chocolate richness, is a long-time favourite of ours.

Launched only in 2007, it is hard to believe just how many awards and accolades The Chanin Wine Company have received in such a short period of time, establishing a strong reputation for making some of the most beautiful, exciting and distinctive wines to come out of California in the most recent years. If you haven’t tried them yet, you simply must – you are definitely missing out on something very special.

Discover our Pinot Noir wine selection...