Thin skinned, prone to rot, difficult to ripen, easy to over ripen… the list of reasons not to grow Pinot Noir is vast and it’s understandable why many growers shy away from this notoriously problematic variety. But, when grown well this troublesome grape can show itself to be one of the most complex varieties in the wine world, covering the whole spectrum of aromas, flavours and styles. From delicate, light and lifted styles that express fine red cherry and strawberry fruits, through weightier styles that show deeper, brooding, bramble fruit and spice. Pinot Noir can mature well, developing savoury notes of mushroom, truffle and forest floor with some of the finest expressions able to age for decades. It can be a wine that is enjoyed lightly chilled on a summer’s afternoon in the garden or as a perfect accompaniment to a warming winter stew. It can work well with oak or as a pure, simplistic fruit driven wine and barring sparkling wines, is very rarely blended with other grapes. Pinot Noir is about pure, unadulterated, varietal expression, illuminating the character of the terroir and the skill of the winemaker and when treated right, can define the simple essence of what it is to enjoy a glass of wine.
Pinot Noir’s homeland will always be Burgundy but it is the new world where the grape variety has flourished and spread to all corners. Australia produces some exemplary examples from its cooler regions such as Yarra Valley, where the likes of Hoddles Creek show us what the region is capable of, but it isTasmania that is managing to show us where to look for some of the finest examples that can be found. Names like Glaetzer-Dixon, Dr Edge, Sailor Seeks Horse and Hughes & Hughes are producing some of the best examples of Pinot Noir that we have tasted, with wines of great purity.
Across the water in the USA regions of Sonoma and Santa Barbara, Pinot Noir excels and can reach premium levels. Some of Sonoma’s top producers include Dumol and Raen whilst further south in Santa Barbara you can find outstanding wines from Chanin and Paul Lato.