Norton Safeweb

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

About Pinot Noir

  Pinot Noir is one of the most prized wines in the world. It's also a bit difficult to grow and to make. This means relatively high prices for Pinot Noir as compared to most other reds.

Characteristics

  Pinot Noir is lighter in color and tannins than most reds. It's not a big, rich, or drying wine as compared to Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah. It's quite light in color so you can generally see through a glass of Pinot (unless the winemaker has added something like Syrah to make it darker). It's a lower tannin and higher acid wine compared with most reds. Low tannins means you can drink it younger; more acid means it's a great food wine.

Flavors

  Fruits are generally cranberry, cherry, or raspberry. For instance, Carneros Pinot is often what I'd call dusty cranberry while the warmer regions of the Russian River Valley give you cherry cola. Cloves, mushrooms, damp earth, leather, and tobacco are other characteristics of a balanced wine.
  Pinot Noir can be described as lean, silky and elegant or rich and full-bodied, depending on where the grapes came from and who made it.

Growing

  It's a cooler climate grape that usually does well in the same areas as Chardonnay and Syrah. France and the U.S. grow the most Pinot with Germany a distant third. It needs the right climate, it's susceptible to disease, and it's genetically unstable and has mutated into hundreds of clones. So the clones you are growing and the weather and soil of the exact location you are growing Pinot Noir (terroir) has a huge influence on the wine you'll get.

Buying

  Finding moderately priced quality Pinot isn't easy. Beware of relatively inexpensive Pinot with a very dark color (Pinot isn't naturally dark purple). This means it's not all Pinot Noir -- another grape or an additive is in there diluting the flavors. As with any wine pay attention to the alcohol levels. Under 14% may lean towards the dry fruits and once you get to 14.5% you can be getting cherry cola (a generalization).

Ageing

  Pinot Noir can be aged about three to twenty years from the vintage date (a wide range!) depending on how it's made and stored. I find most premium California Pinots peak in about four or five years in my so-so cellaring conditions. Many take on a mushroomy, earthy, leathery notes over time.

Foods

  Remember the lower tannin, higher acid characteristics? This is great for food pairing. Pinot is quite versatile going with everything from salmon to a beef fillet. In between there is pork, lamb and non-meat pizzas (I love margherita pizza with Pinot).
  Pinots are also light enough to work on a warm day when a Cab or Zin seems to heavy.
  Versatility.

Summary

Pros:
  Goes with a large variety of lighter foods. Can sub in for Chardonnay.
  Doesn't have to age.
Cons:
  Value