There are few grapes that have the purity, elegance and almost ethereal qualities that Pinot Noir possesses. In its greatest examples Pinot Noir is ha...
There are few grapes that have the purity, elegance and almost ethereal qualities that Pinot Noir possesses. In its greatest examples Pinot Noir is hard to beat - a magical blend of perfumed fruit and silky tannins with an earthy, savoury edge. It is also the backbone of many of the finest sparkling wines. But Pinot Noir is challenging from a winemaking standpoint. There are only a handful of places around the world where Pinot Noir truly shines - where the soil, climate and geography are just right to coax all that is great from this grape variety.
Pinot Noir is a light to medium-bodied red wine. It is a thin-skinned variety that makes it similar to Grenache in some ways, with its red fruit profile and perfumed aromas. But it is much lighter in palate weight and doesn't have the fuller body and sheer power of varieties such as Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It's Pinot's thin skins and delicate structure that cause so many headaches for viticulturalists. Pinot is a fickle grape, and is picky about where it grows. Give it too much heat and Pinot Noir loses its subtle fruit characters. Too much water and the delicate skins will split. Pinot Noir is a fine balancing act, and can be a very cruel mistress.
What Pinot Noir needs most is a very cool climate to show its best. In France this is found in Champagne for sparkling wines and Burgundy for still reds. Here the cool climate and gentle South Easterly slope make many of the best Pinot Noirs in the world - wines that not only have exceptional complexity but can also age remarkably well. Around the world, it is in similar cool climates where Pinot Noir has shone.
Oregon, in the United States, and Central Otago in New Zealand are two places that also produce exceptional Pinot Noirs. Here in Australia outstanding Pinot can be found in the Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula, as well as other regions in Victoria, not to mention the fantastic wines coming out of Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia. Tasmania has also cemented its place as a world-class region for Pinot Noir production, while the Great Southern in Western Australia also has the potential to produce some very good Pinot.