Pinot Noir, you don’t have to be Pop.u.lar

Pinot Noir grapes stand on their own.  What do I mean, other than in Champagne, Pinot Noir grapes aren’t often blended with other grapes.  When you are drinking a Pinot you are drinking a Pinot.  Pinot Noir grapes themselves have thin skins which makes the colour and tannins less intense than in many of the other red varieties.  But just because they are thin, doesn’t mean they lack in body.   

Pinots ripen early in the season and do well in the cooler to moderate climates with shorter growing seasons.  They are a pit finicky to grow as they are prone to rot, so they do require good vine maintenance to get a good crop.  The vineyards that manage this has a great grape for some high-quality wine.  So, what can you, the drinker of wines expect from a pinot:

  • Light colour
  • Low to High Tannins (although they can be high, tannins on Pinots are more in the Low to Medium range)
  • Low to High Acidity
  • Light to Full Body
  • Flavour Profiles
    • Strawberry
    • Raspberry
    • Red Cherry
    • Wet Leaves (I often refer to this as dirt)
    • Mushrooms
    • Gamey
    • Oak flavours (Vanilla, charred wood, smoke)

Ok so that is a wide range of all acidity, all tannins and all levels of body.  How should you pick?  If you are more keen on a higher body, higher tannin Pinot you need to look at the more moderate climates where they grow pinots, these include Burgundy (Pinot is the primary red burgundy grape), South Africa, Yarra Valley in Australia and some Canadian (depends on the location of the vineyard).

If you are not a lover of tannins, the cooler climates may produce pinots for your taste; New Zealand, Morning Peninsula in Australia, Oregon in USA, Canada and Germany (Pinot Noir is also known as Spätburgunder in German wines)

Pinot Noirs are a great grape to try out if you are new to red as they typically don’t have the high tannins or heaviness that say a Cabernet may have.  I would also recommend spending a bit more money on your Pinot Noir choices as I personally find a big difference between some of the cheaper more commodity Pinots than the bit pricier ones.  I typically won’t spend less than $25 on a Pinot. If you find a Pinot to be a bit watered down and really simple, that is not a great Pinot.  A good quality Pinot may be light in colour but won’t be light in flavours, they should have a great bouquet of the flavours listed above.  If you don’t succeed the first time, please try, try again.

Over the next few weeks I will be exploring some Pinot’s and letting you know what I think. Hopefully you can join in my trying some.   As always, feel free to comment on my Instagram or blog posts with your thoughts. 


P.S. Every time I say Pinot Noir, I think of the music video “Peeno Noir” created by the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt TV show.  It is definitely not for underage eyes (contains sexual content) and not really about wine, but it totally makes me giggle.  

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