Pinot Noir grapes
Celebrate the old and the new. Drawing from 20 years of cellared vintage cuvees gives texture with flavours of honeyed cream and apple crumble. A modern crown seal captures lifted aromas of fresh alpine strawberries and lemon zest adding to the enjoyment and experience of this limited production sparkling.
The amount of Pinot Noir grown in Australia is miniscule, compared to the dominant varieties of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. Representing just one percent of Australia's total winegrape crush, it could easily be dismissed as a variety of insignificance. Yet Pinot Noir has a big reputation, especially in its potential to produce very fine wine. It remains the bastion of many Australian winemakers, as it is notoriously difficult to grow and vinify. Although there are a number of good Pinot Noirs produced in Australia, there are few outstanding ones.
Pinot Noir originated in the French region of Burgundy, where it is most renowned and revered. Due to the highly variable nature of its genetic material, there exist many different clones, each with its own particular character. The symbiosis of clone and region is what allows great Pinot Noir to be produced, along with skilful winemaking and viticulture. Due to the infancy of the Australian table wine industry, the best clonal and regional combinations are still being determined.
The true character of Pinot Noir is expressed when it is grown in a cool climate. In fact, its early ripening nature makes it able to withstand some of the coolest viticultural areas such as Champagne in northern France. Within Australia, the cool regions of Victoria (notably the Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Valley and Geelong), Tasmania and South Australia (Adelaide Hills) are where the best Pinot Noir is produced.
Wines made from Pinot Noir are typically lightly coloured, with cherry-to-plum red hues. The aroma, which is often highly fragrant, can be composed of cherries, red berries, violets and spice when young, transforming into gamey, leathery, mushroomy characters with age. The palate is light-to-medium bodied with fine silky tannins.
As complexity is a vital attribute of good Pinot Noir, the winemaking process is very detailed. Some winemakers choose to include whole berries in the fermentation to increase the fragrance of the wine. Others allow crushed grapes to macerate prior to fermentation to increase the depth of colour and flavour. Some choose to do this after fermentation. Oak is used as an important element in both the sensory and structural aspects of the wine, however due to the delicacy of the variety, care must be taken to ensure that it doesn't dominate the wine. It is not unusual for a single batch of grapes to be processed in different ways to give a range of blending options for the final wine.
Although great Pinot Noir can partner a wide range of food, it
is also wonderful on its own. With good glassware and great company,
you will be able to appreciate all the subtleties and complexities
that make Pinot Noir one of the world's most respected varieties.
© Toni Paterson 2003