November 2008                               


3R's - Rafik Samuel

Pinot Noir

Talk about a misunderstood varietal! Keeping in baseball mode (go Phils!!!), Cabernet sauvignon can be the big slugger (Ryan Howard?), Merlot can be the pretty boy without much flair (Cole Hamels?) but Pinot Noir is style at its best when done right or really bad when not quite done right (Jimmie Rollins?). Pinot is considered the pinnacle of wine making because it is so difficult to make wine from this grape. It is very difficult to grow, requiring a cool climate to be successful. This grape is grown on the west coast of the US but is most famous for the wine it produces in Burgundy, France.

The wines made from this grape are light to medium bodied with a variety of flavors and aromas. To me, the most amazing attribute of Pinot wines is the aroma. The bouquet you get from the wine can be amazing, and is sometimes better than the taste. If you were familiar with the type of glass recommended to drink a Pinot, you would recall that it is a very large glass with a wide mouth. I would describe the bouquet as complex; usually revealing floral scents layered over red fruit (such as cherry, strawberry, raspberry or currant) and earthy scents (such as tobacco, herbs, earth or chalk). The flavors mirror the bouquet but are usually more subdued.

The Pinot wines can go with many different types of foods including light cheeses, fish, pork, veal, or turkey (I had to put that in since Thanksgiving is around the corner). Since the wine is elegant and has a lot to offer, it is important that you pair it with a delicate meat or cheese so not to overpower the wine.

When you look to buy a pinot noir, you should be careful. Because of the difficulty in making this wine, it is not going to be cheap. If you can buy a decent merlot or cab for about $10-20, you may have to pay a little more for the Pinot ($20-40). In fact most Burgundy will run you over $30 and easily can take you into 3 digits. In pinots from the US, I have had great success with the Oregon Pinots. One of my favorites is Archery Summit, however this will run you $40+. You can find a few decent buys in California, with Chateau St. Jean from Sonoma or Saintsbury Garnet from Carneros, which will be around $20. I really haven’t found a decent Pinot under $20, if someone has, please let me know!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!!