Picking the best pinot noir is synonymous with falling in love. Read the expert notes on the peculiarity of the grape, tasting tips, and some of the best regions to find the unique wine.
Choosing a great pinot noir
Pinot noir is said to be an emotional grape. It causes tears to build up in your eyes, evoking joy and ecstasy. Winemakers go insane trying to pursue pinot noir wine with clenched teeth even in climates that are unfavorable. Buying this type of wine is not a simple task. You are never sure of what to get from a bottle you expect to be absolutely sublime. From a drinker’s point of view, nothing can touch pinot noir when it is right. It has a way of making you feel like you have encountered magic with an effortless and light taste. Finding a mesmeric bottle can be as cumbersome as an annoying partner. But if you are patient and determined, someday you will find one that leaves your eyes blinking in ecstatic surprise. Check out some useful guidelines to assist you in your quest for delicious pinot noir.
How does it taste?
Pinot noir is a sensuously sweet red grape variety characterized by red berry qualities which are closely related to strawberry and raspberry. It features a cola-like and incense spice. It is a bit vegetal and minty when young but tastes like strawberry or raspberry when fully matured. The thin-skinned grape gets jammy when overripe. When maturing in a bottle, silky textures begin to emerge in addition to enticing undertones of leather and truffles. The grape is hard to grow especially due to its thin skin which is susceptible to external elements. These hurdles, in conjunction with its high demand, are the reason for its relatively high price.
If we were to describe pinot noir flavors, we have to account for its growth stages. It tastes like cherries and cranberries when young and as it grows old, you would confuse it with dead leaves or mushrooms. But these descriptions are not on point. The perfect pinot noir is ethereal. The use of adjectives in describing it is expendable. The thin shin of pinot noir produces light-bodied wine with a pale and delicate tannin structure. These qualities give pinot unique versatility for wine-pairing. It is the ethereal features that particularly appeal to most wine enthusiasts. However, the wine is just ordinary when it’s not on point.
Best places to find pinot noir
Burgundy is the home of pinot noir. Some of the most expensive pinot noir grapes have been grown in this region for centuries. Burgundy pinot noir wine is acidic, mineral-packed, and features slightly dried fruit aroma and touches of mushroom, forest floor, and leather. The wine requires maturation in a bottle before it’s consumed. If you are buying Burgundy wine for the first time, be sure to consult a wine specialist. A local wine expert can help you to find what you are looking for because they have tasted the wines for years, and will even consult you on whether you will need a burgundy glass to get the full experience or not. One of the keys to getting great value is to check for appellations or the origin designations in Cote de Beaune instead of Code de Nuit. The later comes with high prices. Some of the best appellations are as follows:
- Santenay: this region in southern Cote de Beaune is best known for complex wines with deep colors
- Pommard: the place produces intense and relatively robust pinot noir
- Volnay: this is where delicate and wines come from
California and Oregon
Most American wine buyers prefer wine from the Northern regions. 99.9 % of pinot noir wine in the US comes from California and Oregon. The competition between the two states is friendly with some of the best pinot’s originating from Red Hills and Willamette Valley, Oregon. The wine has a little more history in California given that its production started in the early 60s. The premier growing areas include Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coat, and Anderson Valley.
Australia and New Zealand
These areas have some of the coolest climates for producing pinot noir. The Yarra Valley in the coastal regions of Australia is best known for complex pinot which features such notes as eucalyptus, mint, and berry. In New Zealand, Central Otago produces spicy and earthy pinot which pairs well with grilled meals.
Most wineries blend pinot noir with other wines of relatively inexpensive grapes. They do so to make the wine more affordable. For instance, in the US, wineries are permitted to sell pinot noir wine that is blended with 25% of different grapes. Such wines are only labeled as pinot noir and there are no indications of the blend. They usually feature dark colors, more tannins, and fuller bodies. These blends are excellent but if you want pure pinot, check the bottle label or the technical notes. However, every wine that is labeled Pinot Noir in Europe is 100% varietal.
What’s the cost?
The availability of pinot wine and its relatively high price are the greatest hurdles of shopping for pinot noir. The truth is, the wine is not cheap. One of the most sought-after pinot costs around $35 to $50. It can even go up to $10,000 for Burgundy varieties. And even if you have the money to spend on pinot, its availability is limited. It’s very hard to come by and sometimes you need to wait for years for a mailing list of the wineries just to buy some bottles. Alternatively, you can buy through a third party but this will cost you up to 10 times!
Fortunately, not every bottle of pinot can leave you bankrupt. Some of the best wines could just be right at the local wine shop if you live in New Zealand, Australia, Burgundy, Oregon, or California. The important thing is to do your research and talk to wine specialists for recommendations. Do not just pick a wine bottle because it looks cute. Here are some of the most recommended producers.
- Verget, Griffier, and Vogue in Burgundy, France
- Domaine Drouhin, Chehalem, and Ken Wright in Oregon
- Littorai, Gary Farrell, and Dehlinger in California
- Rippon Vineyards in New Zealand
No matter what you prefer, make your pinot search journey as enjoyable as you can. You might come across a producer who will become your next favorite.