May 17, 2012

Season of mellow {Pinot} fruitfulness

I am not alone in feeling that Autumnal leaves bring to mind the fragrant warmth of a good Pinot Noir. So purple ruby hued. So spicy imbued. Yet, without the heavy fullness of a big fruity Shiraz to weigh you down on an evening still clinging to the last embers of warmth.

I always smile when I think of Miles in Sideways denouncing Merlot & being a right Pinot snot.  However, there does seem to be this ‘cult’ around the varietal.  In Australia, there is the discussion of clones, of where the term ‘Pinosity’ originated & what it actually means. Plus there is that old chestnut – can Australia actually produce fine Pinot Noir???? You either ‘love it or hate it’, you are not allowed to languish undecidedly on the fence.

Pinot Noir is one of the most elegant of red wines. The best have silky sensuous tannins but have the acid to keep everything fresh & lively.  They will also have complexity to their depths – aromas of cherry, raspberries, mushroom & spices like cloves & cinnamon. Occasionally, there will be a bit of forest floor, charcuterie or maybe some garden herbs, fresh or dried.

Here in Australia we are spoiled for choice.  We can choose from Pinot that is all about purity of fruit or they can be made to have that Burgundian savouriness.  There are some regions that are doing Pinot particularly well – Tasmania, Adelaide Hills, Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Valley & Macedon to name some of the best regions.   In other regions, there producers who stand out for their quality and/or their passion. For instance, Great Southern in the West, is just starting to get a solid reputation for interesting Pinot with inspirational wines from Picardy in Pemberton & Marchand & Burch in the Mt Barker regions.

I should also make mention of the Pinot that is coming in from New Zealand as well. Here you get some incredibly powerfully flavoured wines. Perhaps a comparison could be drawn between the power of their Pinot matching the power of their Sauvignon Blanc.  They usually represent good value too.

As a general rule with Pinot Noir, you do get what you pay for. It is well worth pushing the budget to get a good one – make that sacrifice of quantity for quality & you will not regret it.

Here are some of my favourites:

Picardy 2010 Pinot Noir ($49) –  go searching for this wine when it is released this month.  It is imbued with a fragrance of fresh cherry that lifts out of the glass, bringing with it some olive, sage & perfume. Lovely silky soft middle palate of sweet ripe fruit with some dried herbs leading to the lingering finish. This family is very passionate about their Pinot, justly so!

Paringa Estate 2009 ‘The Paringa’  Pinot Noir ($ 90+) – Fresh abundant black cherry & spice with  firmness and immense concentration. The flavour on the length will last so long that it makes you slow down and take notice. Or another way to look at it – a tongue sucking wines with the legs to last the distance.

Shaw & Smith 2009 Pinot Noir ($47) – A fresh ripe Pinot from the Adelaide Hills. Raspberry countered with earthy mushroom, silkly smooth with a long supple finish.  Impressively fresh.

Domaine A  2007 Pinot Noir ($70) – The 2007 is unmistakably Pinot with intense spicy, fresh cherry fruit, joined by raspberries & savoury spice with a touch of herbs. The tannins seem a little more prominent but the wine still has that enviable length.

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