”“The most romantic of wines, with so voluptuous a perfume, so sweet an edge, and so powerful a punch that, like falling in love, they make the blood run hot and the soul wax embarrassingly poetic” -Master Sommelier Madeline Triffon
Pinot is a fantastic wine, but a temperamental grape. With its rich color and complex flavors, it is largely considered one of the most hedonistic wines ever made. Elegant and berry-lie, its velvet flavor is the perfect addition to any affair. Pinot Noir Day celebrates this wine and the regions of the world in which it’s cultivated.
History of Pinot Noir Day
Every wine deserves to have a day dedicated to its consumption, and none more so than Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir is so named due to the dark color of the grapes, and the pine-cone shaped clusters they grow in on the vine. Showing a strong preference for cooler climates, the grape of the same name is grown primarily in Burgundy, France, though Willamette Valley, Oregon in the USA and Walker Bay region of South Africa both produce notably large crops. Of course, cultivating Pinot Noir is not a task for the faint of heart, for these grapes are difficult to cultivate and tricky to turn into wine.
Perhaps that’s appropriate for a wine that is both rich and complex. The skin of the grapes are thin and don’t offer the protection of thicker skinned grapes, and can be finicky during the aging process, frequently being uneven and unpredictable. The tight clusters require careful management lest rot set in, and this often involves careful management of the canopy.
For those who are willing to brave it and cultivate the skill, the wine that is produced is beyond measure. Pinot Noir Day celebrates all that is required to produce this wine and the delicious bounty that unfolds.
Fun Facts: Pinot Noir is called “the noble grape” in France, and for good reason. It been coveted by kings and commoners in large part for its magical abilities with food
- It’s Old & French. OK, you probably knew the French part. To get specific, this light, dry red hails from the Burgundy region, where it is the primary red wine. But did you know it is thought to be about 2,000 years old? Compare this to Cabernet Sauvignon, which is thought to be a few hundred years old. Due to its long history, Pinot Noir is considered the grandparent or great grandparent to many grapes, including Syrah.
- It’s transparent. It can’t hide anything–it clearly shows terroir and is easily influenced. This is why it is not usually blended with any other varietals and it is often vineyard-designate (produced from a single vineyard). “Even small differences in the grape show through in the final wine. This means that all of the various characteristics of and decisions in the vineyard will deliver a very different wine from site to site. Sun exposure, temperatures, soil types, crop yield, etc. can differ literally from one side of a road to another,” Fulcrum founder/winemaker David Rossi. Plus, it is often actually see-through in the glass. But make no mistake: it is NOT a lightweight in nose or taste.
- It’s difficult. It is hard to grow and hard to make into wine. Small climate changes greatly change this delicate grape, it is prone to various wine diseases, and it oxidizes easily in the winemaking process. It is a much riskier wine for both growers and winemakers than other popular reds. That’s one of the reasons it is highly sought after (and can be expensive). Andre Tchelistcheff, one of America’s most influential winemakers declared that “God made Cabernet Sauvignon whereas the devil made Pinot Noir.”
- It makes great Rosé. To make Rosé in the traditional Provence style, you pick grapes when they are much less ripe. The lower sugars mean lower alcohol and greater acidity, so the Rosé is crisp and refreshing. With Pinot Noir (and Grenache) grapes, you don’t get “green” flavors when you pick early.
- It’s friendly. With its lighter body, it is often the first red that white wine lovers enjoy, and it is one of the food-friendliest reds. It has the kind of acidity that is so important to versatility with food. The more fruit-forward the Pinot is, the better is with fattier fare, like roast chicken, lasagna, salmon or halibut. Bigger Pinots can stand up to game meats and birds, as well as beef. These types of Pinot often come from California, due to the weather. Oregon generally produces leaner Pinot Noir which in our opinion is even more able to pair well with many kinds of food, including Chinese, Indian, lamb, pizza … the list goes on. In fact, the only food we would not choose for Pinot is anything too hotly spicy.