Pinot Noir is a difficult variety to cultivate and transform into wine. The Pinot Noir grape is a variety of the Vitis vinifera species. The grape clusters are vaguely shaped like a pine cone and the berries tightly bunched. This phenomenon and the fact that the berries have a very thin skin, opens it up to a variety of diseases like bunch rot and similar fungal diseases. The grape is very sensitive to wind and frost, soil type, pruning techniques and cropping levels (must be low yield to produce quality wines)
During production, the grape is very sensitive to fermentation methods and yeast strains. The wine is highly reflective of its terroir and different regions can produce very different wines. Andre Tchelistcheff – an American wine maker – stated that “God made Cabernet Sauvignon while the devil made Pinot Noir” – this is to indicate the grape’s reputation as a difficult grower.
Pinot Noir is probably one of the most popular wines in the world. This wine was described as the most romantic of wines by Joel Fleischman of Vanity Fair: he said “…. so voluptuous a perfume, so sweet an edge, and so powerful a punch that, like falling in love, they make the blood run hot and the soul wax embarrassingly poetic.” Madeline Page, Master Sommelier, describes the wine as “sex in a glass.”
Pinot Noir is known to confuse tasters because of the broad range of flavours, bouquets and impressions the wine can produce. In general, the wine is light to medium bodied with flavours of raspberry, cherry and a little bit of current. The young Pinot Noir has a “garnet” colour and can be much lighter than traditional red wines. However, with the new styles emerging it highlights a more powerful and darker fruit forward wine, that tends towards Syrah in depth and alcohol content.
Pairing Pinot Noir with food can be a daunting task – one must remember that Pinot Noir is a rule-breaker! The reason for this is the fact that Pinot Noir is lighter in weight and body than other reds and will not overwhelm lighter flavours of seafood and poultry.
Cherry or raspberry sauces will be great with the wine – think of French cuisine when cooking. Seared Tuna, salmon, roasted chicken, coq au vin, turkey, grilled veal chops, mild creamy cheeses, risotto and lentil stew will all work fine with a Pinot Noir. The one area you need to avoid is heavy sauced pastas and barbeque meats, which will overpower the Pinot Noir’s delicate aromas and light fruity flavours.