Pinot Noir pairs well...
One of the most enduring wine myths is that pairing wine with food is difficult.
Some astringent red wines – Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Petit Verdot, for instance - that have high levels of spicy tannins can create a metallic taste paired with fish that has a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids. But if those are the kinds of wines you prefer, you probably wouldn’t care.
And then, of course, there’s Pinot Noir. Thin skinned and low in tannin, Pinot Noir is made in a wide range of styles from pale pink sparkling wines, through rosy ‘blush’ wines, to light red wines and even full bodied, fully fruited, earthy dark reds with undertones of fresh cut beetroot. Don’t be reluctant to pair Pinot Noir with almost any kind of food!
Here in British Columbia, our local winemakers have discovered that Pinot Noir is well-suited to our ‘Cool Climate’ growing conditions. Growing more slowly in our temperate climate, wine grapes don’t swell and ripen all through our chilly evenings and nights, which helps them retain higher levels of refreshing natural acidity.
Situated north of Kelowna, specialists in Pinot Noir and high-toned aromatic white wines, 50th Parallel Estate Winery makes wines of exceptional balance and elegance. 50th Parallel Pinot Noir Rosé (319764) $17.99 exudes aromas and flavours of fresh cherries, strawberries and ripe raspberries. It finishes with lingering notes of cranberries and sage.
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 Pinot Noir.
From the famed Marlborough region on New Zealand’s South Island, Wairau River Pinot Noir (664963) $18.99 is aged in French oak for 9 months. This is a silky fruit-driven style of Pinot Noir. Concentrated raspberry and red cherry notes are supported by spicy herbal complexities.
From an Okanagan Valley winery that specializes exclusively in Pinot Noir, Black Cloud Fleuvage (370718) $20.40 is an uncompromisingly dry and dusty mouthful of cherry and raspberry with a medley of tree-bark, root and vegetable undertones. Decant this intense red for an hour or more to let the fruit and vegetal aromas and flavours come together to truly enjoy its complexity.
Astonishingly underappreciated and currently seriously underpriced, Bird in Hand Sparkling Pinot Noir (387951) $20.99 comes to us from South Australia’s Adelaide Hills. This is a rich
and creamy sparkling wine with subtle notes of strawberries and cherries. Buy what you can find… it won’t last long at this price!
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 kind of medley often described as “forest floor” – Pinot Noir is much more about subtlety than sheer power.
From one of the oldest blocks of Pinot Noir in the Okanagan
Valley, Tantalus Pinot Noir (200881) $28.50 brims with aromas of cloves, sage and ripe black plums. The palate features floral notes of violets, bright red berry fruits and black cherries with an intriguing mineral note of crushed granite.
At the same time, the Okanagan can produce quite powerful Pinot Noir. Foxtrot Vineyard Okanagan Valley Pinot Noir (424721) $57.99 is a tannic and fully flavoured wine with earthy undertones. Spicy raspberry and red-currant flavors slowly emerge in the glass as this silky red breathes. Nothing wimpy about this wine!
Unarguably the spiritual home of Pinot Noir, France’s Burgundy has five sub-regions: Chablis in the Yonne department; the Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune in the Côte d'Or; and the Chalonnais and Mâconnais in the Saone-et-Loire. One of the best Premier Crus of Beaune, Grèves is at mid-slope, at the northern end of the appellation.
Louis Jadot’s Beaune Grèves Premier Cru (877068) $75.65 demonstrates Pinot Noir’s ability to be supple and silky without being simple in any way. With intensely floral aromas of black
cherries and liquorice that follow through onto the tongue with blackcurrant notes and a twist of gravelly mint and anise in the finish.
Whatever you’re serving, there’s a Pinot Noir to pair with it!
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