Red wine with fish...

Pinot Noir and Salmon!

Years of questionable advice have convinced many wine lovers that only white wines should be paired with fish. However, this is not always true…

While the tannins in most red wines can taste a little metallic when they meet the Omega acids in fish. Low in tannins, Pinot Noir pairs perfectly with salmon – much better than most white wines!

Often as light as a rosé, Pinot Noir’s spiritual home is in France’s Burgundy. Sadly, good Burgundy doesn’t come cheap. But that doesn’t mean that exploring the many subtleties of Pinot Noir must be overlooked, under-appreciated or just plain misunderstood.

Established in 1883 at the foothills of the Andes in Mendoza, Trapiche is one of Argentina’s oldest wineries sourcing premium grapes from more than 2,400 acres of proprietary vineyards and a stable of more than 200 independent growers.

Made in a light and fruity style, Trapiche Pinot Noir (322487) $12.98 offers up a medley of red fruit flavours - strawberry, cherry and ripe red plum. This is a red wine that white wine lovers will and is perfect paired with light spiced barbequed salmon.

Cono Sur Organic Pinot Noir (77644) $15.99 from Chile features an elusive aroma of fresh cut beets over dark cherry and jammy strawberry flavours and that ‘tree bark’ liquorice twist of fresh leathery tobacco leaf.

Our own B.C. winemakers are working in a variety of different microclimates. Even sophisticated wine lovers – with international palates – are coming to realize how the Okanagan Valley is well suited for ripening Pinot Noir into an assortment of different styles.

From their Naramata vineyards Joie Farm Pinot Noir (885145) $22.98 is made in a lighter bodied style. Refreshing natural acidity is balanced with subtle and earthy flavours of cherry and raspberry. Delicate notes of sage and liquorice round out the finish.

Exposed as “The Heartbreak Grape” in Marq de Villiers’ 1994 study, Pinot Noir has long been considered difficult to grow successfully and just as challenging to turn into fine wine. Much like our own winemakers’ experience here in British Columbia, New Zealand’s winemakers are discovering they, too, have winning ways when it comes to growing and making great Pinot Noirs.

From New Zealand’s famed Marlborough region, Spy Valley ‘Southern Valleys’ Pinot Noir (458166) $32.49 has elusive aromas of violets over juicy raspberry, green olive and the faintest touch of wood smoke. Dusty cherry, strawberry and raspberry flavours ride a spice box of savoury herbs – sage, oregano and thyme.

With its comparatively delicate layers of aroma and flavour from violets through berries and green vegetables and herbs into spices, leather, roasted meats and a mushroom and truffle-like kind of medley often described as “forest floor” – Pinot Noir is much more about subtlety than sheer power.

From its spiritual home in France, Burgundy’s Premier Cru and Grand Cru red wines are all made from Pinot Noir but they are often too expensive for casual enjoyment.  However most Burgundy producers make an entry level wine that is more affordable.

 

Generally a stand-out in that entry level – Bourgogne Rouge - range, Faiveley Bourgogne Pinot Noir ‘Paulee’ (142448) $32.99 opens with aromas of violets and anise over dusty raspberry. An edge of bright acidity frames a medley of red and black berry fruit flavours underpinned by earthy, woodsy tannins. 

There doesn’t seem to be a wine grape that does not flourish somewhere in California.  Preferring cooler growing conditions, Pinot Noir is arguably at its best in the Carneros and Russian River Valley regions.  More affordable California Pinot Noirs are grown in Monterey County and Sonoma County and harvested in the cool of the evening and early morning.

Specializing in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, La Crema makes a wide range of wines from grapes from seven different regions – including Oregon’s Willamette Valley. La Crema Monterey Pinot Noir (826578) $33.99 leads with aromas of tea and ripe plums.  Spicy strawberry, cherry, plum and rhubarb flavours predominate with intriguing hints of rain-washed rocks and damp, loamy ‘forest floor’ in the finish.

Lighter bodied than most red wines, Pinot Noir is the ideal wine to pair with most chicken, turkey and pork dishes. While it might overpower simple white-flake fish dishes, it is absolutely perfect paired with salmon.

Reach WineWise by emailing douglas_sloan@yahoo.com