Pinot Noir is THE red grape variety of Burgundy just as Cabernet Sauvignon is indelibly linked to Bordeaux. Sometimes called “the heartbreak grape”, Pinot Noir can be incredibly sensitive and difficult to grow due to its thin skins and its susceptibility to rot. It needs a cool climate to bring out the pure, elegant aromas and to stop it becoming overripe and jammy and it requires delicate handling by the winemaker. However, all efforts are largely repaid by Pinot Noir’s amazing ability to reflect the soils in which it is grown making it the perfect grape for Burgundy’s patchwork quilt of different crus and terroirs in the Côte d’Or.
Pinot Noir has fewer phenols, than richer grapes such as Cabernet, which explains the often-lighter colour and softer tannin structure of the wines. Fresh acidity and red berry notes are typical. The top wines produced from Pinot Noir have a uniquely complex range of aromas ranging from red berries, cherries, wild strawberries, floral notes, aromatic herbs, undergrowth, tea and mushrooms. If Cabernet is about power, Pinot Noir is about finesse.
Pinot Noir is an ancient grape variety and is therefore prone to mutation. This not only creates different clones but also completely new grape varieties. Like Pinot Blanc, for example or pink-skinned Pinot Gris - both derived from Pinot Noir. A grower has the choice of dozens of clones when planting a new vineyard. During the 1950s big-berried clones giving large yields were popular, such as the “Pinot Droit” of Burgundy. These made very fruity wines but lacked structure. The “Dijon” clones have small berries and are grown for top-quality wines all over the world, particularly in California.
There is more to Pinot Noir than still wine since it is also a very important part of the Champagne blend of grapes and other great sparkling wines produced throughout the world. If Burgundy is the cradle of Pinot Noir and its wines are still seen as a stylistic paradigm, impressive Pinot Noirs are now being produced in cool climates throughout the world: in Switzerland, Italy and Germany in Europe and to great success in the Otago and Marlborough regions of New Zealand, the Rio Negro in Argentine’s Patagonia, on the Sonoma Coast in California and in Oregon.
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- 2017 Marigny-Neuf (BIO)Val de Loire0.75l RoséBio€8.49 €7.02A rosé made from 60% Gamay, 20% Cabernet and 20% Pinot Noir grapes, grown in Vienne between the Loire Valley and Poitiers. This is an organic wine, produced with great care including two days cold maceration followed by five months ageing on the fermentation lees to add roundness and complexity to the wine. A fun loving wine with notes of guava, red currant and cherry with a creamy texture, this rosé loves being paired with salads, pizza and sunny aperitifs accompanied by big smiles and giggles. Serve chilled and enjoy now or for the next two years.
- 2017 Marigny-NeufPinot-Noir Val de Loire0.75l RedBio€9.99 €8.26Frédéric Brochet loves Pinot Noir. This talented winemaker learned to make pure, fruit driven wines in Australia. He has planted the grape right in front of his headquarters at the Manoir de Lavauguyot looking south towards Futoroscope and the hills of Poitiers. This wine is organic, lively and pure with notes of kirsch, walnut and sweet spice on the nose. The taste is smooth and fruity with smoky notes and a lovely crunchy, acidity. Macerated on the skins with gentle pigeage to produce the ruby red colour and aged in French oak barrels for six months, its freshness and silky tannins make this a good match for poultry, salads, Porc filet mignon and all sorts of cheeses. Serve slightly chilled.
- Brut Champagne0.375l White€16.60 €13.72Created in 1955, this group of Epernay producers make wines from 75 hectares of vineyards. Cuvée de Réserve is a blend of three vintages and predominately made from black varieties. Refined and elegant with a lovely taste of toasty brioche, almonds and ripe fruits. A little known Champagne at a very reasonable price, which often ranks above some of its more famous counterparts in blind tastings.
- Brut Champagne0.75l White€25.65 €21.20Created in 1955, this group of Epernay producers make wines from 75 hectares of vineyards. Cuvée de Réserve is a blend of three vintages and predominately made from black varieties. Refined and elegant with a lovely taste of toasty brioche, almonds and ripe fruits. A little known Champagne at a very reasonable price, which often ranks above some of its more famous counterparts in blind tastings.
- Brut Champagne0.375l White€26.50 €21.90Pale yellow colour with delicate rose tints, the nose is complex and austere with red fruits, spicy bready notes and plum fruits. Delicate, balanced and persistent.
- 2017 Domaine du PelicanTrois Cépages Arbois0.75l RedNew€34.70 €28.68This is a beautiful wine, so bright and fresh with lovely fresh, red fruit flavours. Burgundy meets the Jura here; Pinot Noir which adds lift and sweetness is blended with the two Jura red grapes, Poulsard and Trousseau. The result is a fragrant wine which is so inviting and delicious; its long structure and pure fruit character gives way to surprising richness on the palate. There is good fruit concentration without weighing down the silky texture. In the finish, you can detect the Jura minerality and more of a savoury, saline acidity than you would find in Burgundy. A wine that is delicious to drink now but will age very well, taking on more layers and depth of flavours over the years