I will always remember someone in Nepal saying to me “I have no idea how to make a quality chicken curry but I know what one tastes like!” Sounds like he was into Stoic philosophy as it’s a sentence that Epictetus or Marcus Aurelius would have been proud of. Although I don’t suppose he ever had chicken curry, I do wonder if Marcus Aurelius ever tasted Pinot Noir? Which leads me into asking “do you know what a good Pinot Noir tastes like?”
I have tasted more BAD Pinot Noir than I care to recall, always semi justified with the statement “it is a very difficult grape to grow and to make wine from!” Now this is undoubtedly true, but it’s no excuse for still trying to get top price for a shite wine just because it’s made from Pinot Noir.
For the last 50 years or so the rest of the world has been trying to emulate the Burgundy wines of Pommard, Volnay, Gevrey Chambertin, all villages making wine from the Pinot Noir grape. But with the notable exception of a few in California the vast majority have come nowhere near to succeeding. Lighter in colour than a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Shiraz it has more subtle aromas and flavours too; strawberry, raspberry, cherry, vanilla, earthy aromas like mushroom or smokey cigar-like. These wines have less tannin to so you get less of the astringent effect on the tip of your tongue in younger wines. They are long-keeping too so definitely worth buying for keeping, not as investments, but in maybe five years time to be drinking a bottle worth £50 that you only paid £15 for!
So, Burgundy Rules OK! as far as Pinot Noir is concerned as the winemakers combine their traditions with modern technology, extracting every ounce of flavour from a grape nurtured in harmony with its terroir. Terroir is everything for this grape including soil, climate, elevation, facing direction, so check out a previous post on the village terroirs of the Cote de Beaune. Then go out and buy some, or better still, come to Burgundy and investigate for yourself!