International Pinot Noir Day –
Few grapes have caught the imagination of wine lovers as widely as Pinot Noir has. The top sommeliers spend hours discussing the nuances of the grape varietal, debating where the best ones are made and nuances from different regions.
Most new wine lovers would inevitably end at the predisposition that it’s a varietal of superior complexity en aroma and thus be drawn into the philosophical dance that has netted so many in its web.
A grape with its own voice its subtleties are what draws wine lovers into every glass. As an artistic expression, the statement is made more like a Bach symphony than a Lady Gaga concert.
It was a famous American winemaker, André Tchelistcheff, which famously said God made Cabernet but the devil made Pinot noir. The almost whimsical nature of the wine have frustrated many drinkers and makers like any great love story must.
Nowadays most good Pinot Noir comes from cooler regions and undergoes at least in part some form of carbonic maceration.
The infamous Burgundy region found the benefits of fermenting part of the juice through macerating whole bunches before extracting the juice. This process leads to more intense fruit flavours of raspberry, strawberry and variations of darker fruit depending on the region.
The grape looks very similar to a pine cone with small grapes tightly bunched together. The shape of the small bunches and grapes is one of the reasons why the wine is more expensive, yielding less tonnage per hectare than other red wines.
A winemaker once philosophically told me that he liked to compare Pinot Noir to a relationship with a woman.
Treat the grapes with respect and care and you will have one of the most beautiful age-worthy wines in the world. Be negligent in the winemaking and you will be punished repeatedly around every corner.
Though symbolic of any relationship I did find his analogy meaningful in describing the best Pinot Noirs in South Africa.
The leaders are all passionate insightful winemakers that like spending time with the viticulturist in the vineyard.
Nico Grobler from La Brune wines prunes the vineyards himself with the help of only trusted hands like those of his daughter Nicola.
Neil Bruwer at Chamonix has an intimate knowledge of every part of the farm visiting the individual blocks daily. It can only be compared to an obsession.
Google the most expensive wines in the world and you will find that most come from Burgundy, specifically the Cotes de Nuits averaging at $ 30 000 and more.
Fortunately, our brilliant winemakers offer world-class examples at under R 350 per bottle.
Most of our best Pinot Noirs originate in Elgin (Spioenkop, Nico Grobler, Kershaw, Oak Valley) or Hemel-and-Aarde (Hamilton Russel, Newton Johnson, Catherine Marshall).
Keep in mind though growing conditions and soil are favoured in these areas some top wineries have pockets of the unique terroir.
The most significant being De Grendel, Chamonix (Franshoek) and Flying Cloud Sovereign of the seas (Outeniqua).
Pairing Pinot Noir is equally intriguing and depends on the style of the wine. Almost always a lighter style red I love having variations of duck and earthy dishes like mushroom risotto.
If the wine is your brush then the food is your blank canvas. Playing with “colours” of acidity and sweetness may be one of the most notable journeys of your life.
Pinot Noir And Its Discontents