A Quartet of Crackers for International Pinot noir Day By Mikey on August 10th, 2022 in Blog Spread the love Pinot Noir. King of black grapes? Some would certainly argue so. It is, after all, responsible for producing some of the world’s most expensive wines. With its thin skin, tightly- packed bunches, and tendency to prefer quite a small operating window in terms of temperature, Pinot Noir is one of the hardest grapes to grow successfully. Thin skins leave it prone to sunburn and make it less resistant to disease. Tightly packed bunches make it susceptible to grey rot as air cannot circulate the berries. If temperatures rise too much, the vine can wither and the fruit can die on the vine. Too cold and it just won’t ripen. But when the right climate and winemaker collide, Pinot Noir makes for one of the most finessed, complex, aromatic, delicious drinks known to humanity. Here we look at four very different applications of the variety and rejoice in its unquestionable magnificence. Domaine Pillot Volnay 2018 is a very special wine. Here, Laurent Pillot blends top-quality Pinot Noir from five different vineyard sites including two Premier Cru vineyards. Add into the mix that 2018 was a ridiculously good year for growing grapes in Burgundy (actually pretty much the whole of France) and you have a wine that will last a very, very long time. But make no mistake! This drinks brilliantly now. Loads of red and dark berry fruit, a pleasing floral character, a little smokey toast and just the beginnings of that earthy, leathery thing good Pinots acquire over time. That youth also means high tannins that’ll need an hour in a decanter, but that should never put you off. However, wait for 5, 10 or even 15 years (we know – sounds almost impossible) and you’ll have a wine to brag about – and possibly re-sell for triple the price! From the Old World home of Pinot Noir to a region at the forefront of exceptional New World winemaking. Neuquén in Patagonia, Southern Argentina is where Malma set up shop nearly 20 years ago. Only really established since the turn of the 21st Century, the region has attracted considerable winemaking talent ever since. Not least the team from Malma who are regarded amongst the very best. Due to the cooling effects of high altitude, low rainfall, favourable soils and numerous sunshine hours, Pinot Noir thrives here. And because good vineyard sites are plentiful, prices are incredibly reasonable. Malma Finca La Papay Pinot Noir has flavours of red apple skins, cranberry, wild strawberry, redcurrant, leather-bound books, cedar and toast. Acid is high and keeps things fresh. Tannins are low but still noticeable enough to give it excellent length. ‘A proper bit of kit’ as our wine-taster-in-chief would put it. Quite. Franken in Germany may not be on the tip of everyone’s tongue when it comes to outrageously good Pinot Noir, but it should be! And yes – we are talking Pinot Noir. Spätburgunder is the German name for our featured grape variety and should be well and truly on your radar. The Rudolf Fürst winery can trace its origins back to the 17th century. Winemaking is of the minimal intervention style ensuring only a very delicate touch is used. This approach is perfect for this somewhat delicate variety, allowing its subtleties as well as its bolder characteristics to shine. Rudolf Fürst Bürgstadter Spätburgunder has layered flavours of strawberries, black pepper, red cherries and plums, dried cranberries, coal, blackberry, old leather and just a hint of warm compost. Rich cooking spice comes through at the end, acidity is expertly balanced and tannins are present but outrageously smooth. Truly beguiling. It’s no surprise the last producer on our list is yet another absolute master of his craft. As mentioned, Pinot Noir is a tricky variety to grow and requires some serious winemaking chops to master. But that’s exactly what David Levasseur (André’s grandson) does. André Levasseur Noir de Terroir Extra Brut NV is a Blanc de Noir. In the same way that a blanc de blanc Champagne only uses a white variety (Chardonnay, mostly). A blanc de noir only uses (you guessed it) Pinot Noir. Super-ripe fruit that hits you first – raspberries and lingonberries – then cereal and honey, like honey nut granola covered in yoghurt. Then some white blossom and cashew nuts appear. High acidity cuts through like a knife and keeps that ripe fruit in balance. They say only vintage Champagnes can age – hogwash. Drink now or hold for a decade. Either way, enjoy a slice of supreme brilliance.