Pinot Noir is a red wine grape variety. The name is derived from the French word for pine, alluding to the grape variety having tightly clustered, pine cone-shaped bunches of fruit.
Pinot Noir grapes are grown around the world, mostly in the cooler regions, but the grape is chiefly associated with the Burgundy region of France. Other regions that have gained a reputation for Pinot Noir include Oregon, California, South Africa, Chile, SE Australia and New Zealand. Pinot Noir is also a primary variety used in sparkling wine production in Champagne and other wine regions.
It is widely considered to produce some of the finest wines in the world, but is a difficult variety to cultivate and transform into wine. The grape’s tendency to produce tightly packed clusters makes it susceptible to several viticultural hazards involving rot. The thin-skins and low levels of phenolic (tannin) compounds lends Pinot Noir to producing mostly lightly coloured, medium bodied, low tannin wines that can often go through phases with uneven and unpredictable aging. When young, wines made from Pinot Noir tend to have red fruit aromas of cherries, raspberries and strawberries. As the wines age, Pinot Noirs have the potential to develop vegetal and “barnyard” aromas that can contribute to the complexity of the wine.
We tasted 4 wines
- Cono Sur Bicicleta Reserva Pinot Noir 2017 Chile, Central Valley
“A fresh voluptuous Pinot with rich notes of cherry, blackberries and plum together with a balanced ripe palate. This is the perfect wine for grilled chicken or red meat dishes.”
14% alcohol Sainsbury’s £6.25We quite liked this and gave it 1.5. It was considered worth the premium over the real bargain basement Pinot Noir wines offered by the German discounters.
- Tesco Marlborough Pinot Noir 2017 N.Z. South Island
“From renowned New Zealand Producer Indevin comes this elegant Pinot Noir which enjoys a cool dry climate to harvest
its juicy, dark fruit flavours. Thin grape skins give light colour to a red that has been oak-aged to add subtle spice and a smooth finish. Ideal with turkey, pork and lighter meat dishes.” Bottled in the UK (apparently this is a large bottling facility on the Manchester Ship Canal!).
13% alcohol Tesco £9We liked this more, but perhaps not enough more to justify its additional cost, and gave it 1.6.
- Martin Wassmer Spatburgunder 2016 Baden-Württemberg
“After a mere sniff of this moreish red from Markgräflerland, you’ll realise why aficionados are making a fuss about German pinot noir. It has a satisfying, spicy, cherry- and plum-rich aroma with a silky, medium-bodied finish. (Will
Lyons, Sunday Times)”
13½ % alcohol Wine Society £14.50Definitely giving “proper” Burgundy a run for quite a bit less money. We liked this the best, giving it a score of 2.4, but most of us considered this was a wine to be paid for with someone else’s money.
- Antonin Rodet Red Burgundy 2017
“A rich, fruity & seductive wine. Since 1875 the House of Antonin Rodet has carefully produced and aged quality wines from Burgundy. This medium bodied wine is silky and well balanced with ripe raspberry and cherry flavours. Ideal with grilled meats, mushroom risotto or cheeses. Ready to drink now but will keep for another 4 to 5 years.
Bottled in Quincié-en-Beaujolais. (P.N. & Gamay)
12½% alcohol Sainsbury’s £10.50This curious wine does not abide by the AOC rules for Burgundy, as it is a blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir. It is produced by one of the large and respected wine companies of the Burgundy region. As a group we liked this, giving it 2.3.
Overall, the scores followed the prices, which is how it should be, but so seldom is. The Old World did win over the New World, but given the disparity of the prices, that is no surprise either.