Pinot Noir, An Old Grape

It is said the Pinot Noir grape is one of the most difficult grapes to grow and sustain over time. The parent vine creates children that do not seem to inherit the taste, flavors, sizes and growth patterns of its parent.

The Pinot Noir grape has some troubles because it tends to grow great or poor based on the quality of soil and the soils ability to drain and heat up to build a hotter overall soil (during the day of course). This is said to assist in ripening grapes and Pinot Noir is no exception to its yearning to be happy in its soil.

Pinot Noir is one of the oldest grape varieties to be cultivated for the purpose of making wine. Ancient Romans knew this grape as Helvenacia Minor and vinified it as early as the first century AD.” (winepros.org)

A venerable grape should lead to a mature wine, right? Exactly. Pinot Noir, even a modestly priced bottle, tastes like perfection. Winepros.org goes on to describe the wine, “its aroma is often one of the most complex of all varietals and can be intense with a ripe-grape or black cherry aroma, frequently accented by a pronounced spiciness that suggests cinnamon, sassafras, or mint. Ripe tomato, mushroom, and barnyard are also common descriptors for identifying Pinot Noir.”

If you find a vineyard that suits you, stick with it because Pinot Noir is difficult to ferment and create a long lasting impression. It’s probably easier to screw up a bottle than make one that tastes like heaven so search around for a vineyard that has it perfected.

My bottle of choice? Gallo Family Vinyards and a 2005 Pinot Noir going by the name “Sonoma Reserve.” This California based bottle of wine struck me with its subtle flavors followed by no dryness or bitter aftertaste. I purchased the Pinot Noir at the supermarket for roughly USD $10.99 but I saw other vineyards pushing the USD $30.00 mark. I was looking for a Pinot Noir experience, not a wallet burning one so this was the perfect price.

“Perfect with feta cheese and crackers and mildly flavored Grecian olives while indulging in appetizers; amazing with lasagna accompanied by a strong red sauce or fettuccini with grilled tomatoes and a roasted garlic puree for dinner.” (nomerlot.com)

Honestly, this bottle is going to be very dangerous because I believe I could sit down and finish it before the Patriots football game is done. What is a man to do? Joel Fleischman, of Vanity Fair once wrote:

“At their best, pinot noirs are the most romantic of wines, with so voluptuous a perfume, so sweet an edge, and so powerful a punch that, like falling in love, they make the blood run hot and the soul wax embarrassingly poetic.” (ucpress.edu)

In that same article a review described it as “sex in a glass.” Needless to say, if you’re not a wine drinker you’re not going to fall in love with a bottle of Pinot Noir but I firmly believe non-wine drinkers may want to start here before moving onto something with a bit more bitter tannin like a Cabernet Sauvignon.

Like we have mentioned about Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz the grape is often named after the wine in places like the United States while in Europe they name it by the region. So you’ll find all bottled Pinot Noirs are more than likely going to be a California wine. The grape itself is also used in Champagnes, Chardonnay, sparkling wines and other reds.

If you want to taste a good Pinot Noir I highly suggest trying the Gallo Family vineyards because this glass is one of the best I’ve had but be warned, it has 13.5% alcohol by volume. Give it a try and see for yourself.


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