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binTasting: The Many faces of Pinot

It’s decided: Pinot Noir is my Summer go-to red. Whilst consistently sunny summer skies have yet to arrive and the BBQ remains lashed under a makeshift cover, this gorgeous jammy red perhaps offers the best of both worlds!

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Not quite the balmy days to enjoy a super-chilled white (just yet, let’s be positive now) but a refreshing glass of Pinot Noir hits the spot. So let’s work our way through the versatility of this voluptuous variety, named after the French words for ‘pine’ and ‘black’ alluding to the grape variety’s tightly clustered dark purple pinecone–shaped bunches of fruit.

Heading to France the exquisite and refined styles of Burgundy are known the world over for their sense of occasion and reliable reputation: Beaune, Pommard, Givry, Gevrey-Chambertin: are all superb examples of Pinot Noir with an uncompromising emphasis on texture and drinkability.  Virile when young, many of the Grand Crus from regions including the Cote d’Or, Cote Chalonnaise and Cote de Nuits demand often a decade or more in the bottle before their complexity and remarkable persistency become fully apparent. Pinot Noir, despite its less hardy reputation, does indeed have great ageing potential. Those looking for the more punchy fruit characters will enjoy the freshness of New World styles. Upfront and bursting with red berry freshness, these wines are youthful and designed to drink now, many ahead of their time.  The lighter Pinot Noirs of Marlborough, New Zealand (for example) are a revelation born out of the passion of the knowledgeable alchemists of modern day wine-making.

This month I’ve outlined some beautiful wines that are all 100% Pinot Noir but all with a very different offering.

Sancerre Rosé 2011, Domaine du Pre Semelé, Loire, France £13.50: Super-stylish and built to impress; refreshingly dry with superb purity of ripe red berry fruits; mouthwatering;  a stunning foodie wine (highly recommended with a warm goats cheese salad!). We’ve seen a real surge in the more delicate sensible rosés over the years and this is good news leaving behind the sweeter fuller styles.  Next a lip-smacker from the US, Clos du Val Pinot Noir 2008, Napa Valley, California £26.  Rich, complex layers of aromatic spice, bright redcurrants and pomegranate; more of a top shelf contender price wise but worth the investment for a sublime slice of Napa. When it comes to the finer things in life, a glass of beautiful red Burgundy rates high on the agenda. Introducing Gevrey-Chambertin ‘Clos de Justice’ 2006 Vallet Freres France, £36. What class! This winery represents real attention to detail with great heritage and passion shining through the portfolio; well integrated tannins and subtle soft berries; lovely lengthy finish; heaven sent for Burgundy traditionalists.  Finally, Emiliana Pinot Noir 2011 Bio-bio Valley, Chile, £8.  A super, award-winning, organic Pinot. Think bright ruby red hue with a gorgeous perfumed aroma;  freshly picked strawberries with warm spice and cocoa. A rewarding, fresh finish leading you nicely onto your next sip.  I enjoyed this gem two nights ago with some sticky pork ribs, yep that worked!

I could wax lyrical for pages about the ‘pros of Pinot’, rarely blended (except for Champagne, let’s not forget Pinot Noir’s more than admirable contribution to this pure elixir!). This charming and pretty varietal can have the structure and fine fresh tannins to pair with lamb and gamey meat while the delicate, light weight makes it superb on its own or with fish perhaps.  Yes Pinot Noir is one versatile grape.

Whether you are couch-bound with football fever or planning an Olympic feast then Pinot Noir has you covered whatever your budget…

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binTasting: The Many faces of Pinot

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