Pinot noirs — palate-pleasers for all seasons

Lifestyle

Pinot noirs — palate-pleasers for all seasons

The difference between a good pinot noir and a great bottle plays itself out in numerous ways

Michael Fridjhon

While the warmer days of spring presage a shift from red wine to white, there is one variety that is pretty much the cultivar for all seasons — pinot noir. Significantly less tannic than other reds, paler in colour and characterised more by fruit than richness or weight in the mouth, pinot noir straddles the flavour and textural features of red and white wines.

Pinot noir’s traditional heartland is the Côte d’Or region in Burgundy, France. However, only a little more than one percent of the region’s total production falls into its highest-quality category (the grand cru sites). There is actually more pinot planted in Champagne than in Burgundy. This tells you that, even where pinot flourishes, there are very few sites where it yields amazing wine.

This problem, the difference between good pinot noir and the hauntingly beautiful great bottles, plays itself out in numerous ways. One is in the assumption that all good pinot is potentially great pinot and could, over time, qualify for the same insane pricing. The other is that critics should succumb to the seductive charms of this hypothesis and rate the wines accordingly...

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