Pinot Noir is perfect

paired with Salmon!

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!

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 perfect our Okanagan Valley is for ripening Pinot Noir into an assortment of different styles.

Start your explorations of ‘The Heartbreak Grape’ with a surprisingly silky and affordable local Pinot Noir.  Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery ‘Rock Wren’ Pinot Noir (39412) $11.99 overflows with bright strawberry and blackberry fruit notes.

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

Bertaine et Fils Pinot Noir (741330) $16.99 displays the regional characters of the Aude Valley in southwestern France in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains. Expect a light to medium bodied red showing fruit driven flavours of ripe cherry, red currant and strawberry with a dash of peppery spice and subtle oak on the nose.

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 New Zealand’s famed Marlborough region, from vines grown in Rapaura gravels, Opawa Marlborough Pinot Noir (125450) $29.99 is a dusky red, very fleshy, vegetal, but still driven by that dried black cherry, ripe red plums medley of fruit flavours finishing with an earthy edge of smoky oak.

With 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.

And don’t overlook California!  Acacia Vineyard’s pioneering founders - Mike Richmond and winemaker Larry Brooks - recognized the climate of the Carneros region was ideal for growing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir long before Carneros was designated as an official American Viticultural Area (AVA).

 

With aromas of ripe red cherry and berry fruit and soft tannins Acacia Pinot Noir (766865) $28.65 is surprisingly rich for such a lightly coloured wine – typical of many California Pinot Noirs. Cherries, berries and ripe plum flavours dominate, with sweet tea and earthy geranium and rose petal notes in the finish.

Unarguably the spiritual home of Pinot Noir, France’s Burgundy has numerous sub-regions: Chablis in the Yonne department; the Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune in the Côte d'Or; Aloxe-Corton and Pernand-Verglesse north of Beaune; and the Chalonnais and Mâconnais in the Saone-et-Loire.

Unless you’re living in the Gold Card zone – with personal shoppers and sommeliers at your beck and call - it’s not often you are able to purchase a mature Pinot Noir from Burgundy.   Pierre Andre Domaine Corton Aloxe-Corton 2005 (463398) $34.99 opens with earthy oaky notes, vanilla and grilled hazelnuts, hints of black stewed fruit, molasses, liquorice and nutmeg. No fruit bomb…

Grown on vines from Dijon clone 115 Pinot Noir from the Sonora Pines Vineyard north of Oliver, Anthony Buchanan Ashlyn Pinot Noir 2015 (572966) $36.29 is very much an Okanagan Valley kind of homage to Burgundy.  After 10 months in French oak every one of the 840 bottles made exhibits dusky strawberry and dried black cherry aromas and flavours with as twist of liquorice and tree-bark in the finish.

Burgundy is a complicated and confusing region.  A respected producer is often more dependable than some expert’s self-proclaimed vintage of the century!

Louis Jadot’s Beaune Grèves Premier Cru (877068) $75.65 illustrates 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. Pair any of these with salmon… and enjoy!

Reach WineWise by emailing douglas_sloan@yahoo.com