Is pinot noir really the Holy Grail? For many, wine does not get any better than a great bottle of pinot noir with a little bit of age. But what is it about pinot that gets the blood pumping?
Pinot noir is multi-dimensional. While shiraz might have the raw power and cabernet the aristocratic structure, pinot noir has an X – Factor – a rare seductive, silkiness that is hard to ignore. There is nothing out of place in great pinot noir which manages to deliver power while also remaining elegant – a classic iron fist in a velvet glove.
Great pinot is also perfumed and hugely complex. Cherry, raspberry and strawberry fruits are just the beginning before the best wines deliver earth, spice, florals and even a touch of filthy farmyard. It’s not something that you want too much of, but a slightly feral edge never hurts in the hunt for classy pinot.
Pinot noir is also a master of translating all that is around it during the grape growing season and distilling it down. Tiny differences in the slope and aspect of a vineyard or the soil can have profound impacts on the final bottle of wine. There is no better example of this than in the little French town of Vosne-Romanée. Halfway up a gentle hill is a small vineyard that creates some of the most expensive wines in the world – $25,000 a pop. Five hundred metres away where the climate is identical, the price has dropped to $100. Now that is one sensitive grapevine.
Australia has only a handful of wine regions where pinot noir really sings which all share a cool climate, by Australian standards at least. You can find out favourite Pinot Noirs here.