Jonathan Ray

The art of drinking Pinot Noir

  • From Spectator Life

If you’re a lover of Pinot Noir and fine red burgundy you’re doubtless in a bit of a stew. You’re worried that although the about-to-be-launched 2020 vintage is an absolute cracker, the amount of Pinot produced was down by around 40 per cent and there ain’t going to be enough to go round.

You’re also fretting that since the recently-harvested 2021 vintage was cursed with frost, hail, rain, disease and just about everything else, only miniscule amounts of Pinot were produced. The quality – amazingly – is high, but you’ll be darn lucky to get your hands on any.

Rarely, if ever, blended (except to make champagne and other fine sparklers), Pinot Noir is known both for vibrantly juicy wines marked by hints of raspberries cherries and plums and for soft, ethereal, mellow wines with hints of chocolate, game and even vegetal notes.

It’s called the heartbreak grape, not only because it’s tricky to grow, is picky about its soil, doesn’t like the heat and is so thin-skinned that it’s susceptible to mildew, rot, frost, but also because fine Pinot wine is just so hard to find. All too often it flatters to deceive and just when you’ve found a great one, you try another only to leave cruelly disappointed, suffering from what I term post-Pinot tristesse. Don’t you hear the devil’s laughter?

The French will tell you that only in Burgundy or Champagne does Pinot Noir really sing. That if you want floral, perfumed Pinot you should go to Beaune and that if you want voluptuous, juicy wines, you should make for Morey-St-Denis. For spice, go to Pommard; for elegance go to Volnay; for earthy weight go to Nuits-St. Georges and so on.

And if you want fine Pinot Noir-based fizz, head to Champagne and producers such as mighty Bollinger.

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