Pinot Noir. Notoriously difficult to grow. Delicate and thin-skinned, the ancient grape is prone to issues in the vineyard, and the instigator of much debate in its vinification.
While other grape varietals adopt a more slow-and-steady approach to work with the seasons, Pinot ripens early, subjecting the young buds to the harsh frosts of Spring, or the development of botrytis bunch rot or mildew on the vines from the Spring rains. However warm climates do not suit the fickle grape either, as the complex flavours that Pinot is known for do not have time to develop before the acid levels drop in the fruit due to the heat. In its winemaking, the precious little tannins and phenols can easily be overpowered by whole bunch fermentation, a watery taste, too little or too much barrel influence, the wrong yeast, or the wrong clone.
However, in the right terroir in the right climate, with the right and left hands of the skilled winemaker, Pinot Noir has earned its reputation as one of the most complex and elegant, premium and sought-after wines of the world.
Being around for as long as it has, Pinot Noir has mutated to produce at least 40 clones, some producing bolder flavours, others more floral yet paling in comparison. Whilst the top producers in Pinot Noir's home, Burgundy, believe that clonal diversity is best, history has played its part in preserving the sporadic mutations and crossings that occur, all thanks to a pandemic. The Cisterian monks of Burgundy planted their vines in walled vineyards, or "Clos", which would isolate the different vines from one another, whilst ensuring social distancing during the Black Plague.
But where would Champagne be without the wonder of error? Mutations of Pinot Noir include not only Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris/Grigio, but its Champagne blending partner, Pinot Meunier, as well as Chardonnay, thanks to its crossing partner, the ancient French varietal, Gouais Blanc. The two have also been crossed to produce some of our personal favourite progenies, Gamay of Beaujolais fame, and Melon de Bourgogne, the varietal of Muscadet.
Pinot Noir in Australia
Despite the challenges it poses, Pinot Noir has travelled far from its home in Burgundy to many regions of the new world. Reportedly brought into Australia on the First Fleet, Pinot Noir was included in James Busby’s collection of plantings he established in the Hunter Valley in the 1830s. Not surprisingly, Pinot didn’t do so well there, nor did the cuttings sent to South Australia. However the temperamental varietal found its temperate new home where the ocean cools the air in Victoria, namely in the Yarra Valley and Geelong. Unfortunately the vines were wiped out in the 1880s by Phylloxera, and for most of the next century, the region concentrated on its dairy industry, but the 1970s saw a return of Pinot Noir to Victoria, and now Pinot Noir is the fourth most planted red varietal in Australia, thriving in the cooler regions of Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia.
Pinot Noir across the regions
Whilst a wine like Chardonnay might be more telling of the winemaker, the delicate nature of Pinot Noir brings a true expression of terroir. In Burgundy for example, the subtle differences between villages are celebrated in the glass, despite some of the appellations only being separated by a few kilometres.
This week, we explore Pinot Noir across the temperate regions of the Adelaide Hills, Tasmania's Coal and Tamar Rivers and the surrounds of Melbourne, namely the Mornington Peninsula, the Yarra Valley and Geelong, all regions in which the varietal thrives.
Come as we take you on a journey of the south with the "Explore Australian Pinot 6 Pack".
Valued at $396, the exploration at $319.99, and will take you to:
- Hurley Estate Pinot Noir 2019
- Pooley Butcher's Hill Pinot Noir 2020
- By Farr Sangreal Pinot Noir 2019
- Michael Hall Sang de Pigeon Pinot Noir 2020
- Haddow and Dineen Private Universe Pinot Noir 2019
- Gembrook Hill Pinot Noir 2019
|Product Type||Wine Red Pinot Noir|