Spotlight: Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir. Why is this varietal regarded by some as the king of red wine grapes, and dismissed as ‘light’ or ‘watery’ by others? It’s definitely a wine that splits the room when it comes to tastings!
Pinot Noir hails from the Burgundy region of France, the home of some of the world’s most expensive red wines. In the new world, such as here in Australia, Pinot Noir is generally restricted to cool climate regions (such as Sidewood’s vineyards in the Adelaide Hills).
For a lot of us who grew up in South Australia especially, the red wines we were first introduced to are quite big and powerful. Intense fruit cake and jam flavours that hit you as soon as the wine passes your lips with strong tannins that leave a powerful grip on your mouth long after the wine is swallowed. This instant gratification of up-front flavours means you know straight away whether it’s a wine you enjoy or not. And that can be a great thing! But if you’re coming to try a Pinot Noir and expect this sort of experience, you’ll probably not be impressed!
Pinot Noir is a wine more about subtlety than an immediate assault on your palate. Knowing a little bit about how you actually perceive flavours really helps in getting the most out of this wine. Taking a moment to take in the aroma, giving the glass a good swirl to draw more and more of those delicate aromatics into your nose before actually tasting. Your sense of taste is in fact largely driven by your sense of smell (you’ll know if you’ve ever tried to taste something when you have a cold, everything tastes like cardboard when you can’t smell). Taking the time to properly taste a Pinot Noir unlocks the depth of flavours that perhaps don’t jump out and hit you in the way other wines do. The scent of flowers, berries, mushrooms and earth are some of the range of aromas commonly attributed to Pinot Noir, you may get all that and more from just the one wine!
At Sidewood we are incredibly lucky to have some amazing vineyards where we grow a host of different Pinot Noir clones (clones are like sub-varieties of the grapes that present different attributes in structure and flavour). Having this range of grapes available means that our winemaker Darryl is able to craft an amazing Pinot Noir every year, probably why it sells out so fast each time it is released! Alongside our Estate Pinot Noir, we also bottle some of these individual clones by themselves to show how amazing they can be in their own unique way.
For our Winter Reds tasting sessions this year I’m going to be showing all of our range of Pinot Noir, as well as some components of unfinished wines so you can see how each of these parcels contribute their own unique character to make our wine such a success every vintage. Along with the wines I’ll also be offering some ideas on how to taste wine more effectively so you can hopefully see beyond the surface of upfront flavours and start to get as excited about the depth of Pinot Noir as I am!
At the end, whether or not you’re looking for a wine of depth and complexity that you can spend hours just poking your nose in, or just a lighter easy drinking red that you can slurp in the sun, I think Pinot Noir can do all that and more!
See you for tastings at Winter Reds!