Pinot Noir - the holy grail of red wine.

By Marc Malouf - Wine Worth Writing About

For a winelover like me, the Pinot Noir grape is responsible for making some of the greatest red wines of all. Some rare wines made from Pinot Noir can fetch thousands of dollars per bottle (like DRC and Rousseau) and each year the demand and price for these top shelf expressions increase exponentially!

Typical flavours of Pinot Noir include blackberry, cherry, red berries, plum, blood orange, licorice and mushroom with clove and undergrowth characters. Due to its incredible ability to balance fruit with vibrant acidity, earthy undertones, fine tannins and a true sense of terroir, this special grape achieves wines of great complexity, age-ability and elegance unlike any other.

There's a saying, "...great Pinot Noir is made in the vineyard" and there are plenty of great vineyards across the world making unique expressions.

Cooler regions tend to produce Pinot Noir with crisp red and dark berry flavours, bright acidity, savoury and herbaceous qualities. These wines are medium bodied, tense, elegant and fresh with fine layers of complexity. If left on the vines long enough, these wines can develop intense fruit flavour, whilst retaining plenty of natural acidity.

Warmer regions tend to produce Pinot Noir with more lush red and dark fruit flavours, softer acidity and sweeter, more rounded qualities. These wines are heavier in body than cool climate Pinot Noir, with higher alcohol, richness of fruit and are very approachable in their youth.

When the conditions are just right in the vineyards, with long hang times for he grapes, cool temperatures and good sunshine, the resulting wine is fresh, deep, complex and ethereal Pinot Noir blessed with a core of intense fruit, vibrant acidity, tense tannins, complexity and incredible balance.

If you come across a Pinot Noir that sounds like that...you've found a great one!

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Obviously wine doesn't make itself and though the vineyards are hugely important, the winemaker is solely responsible for the finished product.

What happens once the grapes are picked is dictated by the winemaker. Some grapes are pressed into oak barrels (of varying age), while others are pressed to stainless steel or concrete eggs. Some are left in contact with their skins for longer than others, and some are met with their stems (in varying proportions). There are so many different ways to create and finish a wine and this is where us, the consumers step in to the equation.

Just as the vineyards leave their signature on a wine, so does the winemaker and their choices in the winery. If you find a Pinot Noir you love, find out more about where it's grown and how it's been made, that way you'll understand the style of Pinot Noir you are drawn to.

I, personally, am drawn to destemmed expressions with purity of place, complexity, minerality and definition of fruit from regions like the Macedon Ranges in Australia, Central Otago in New Zealand and Chambolle or Vosne Romanee in Burgundy.

What's your favourite?