It’s the middle of the winter and the weather is cold, damp and windy. You’re probably looking for something hearty to drink and to warm up your soul. We at Swig can’t blame you for looking for the perfect bottle of wine during this cool season, and to help you out, we recommend Pinot Noir for January.
Pinot Noir is a mysterious grape that is highly unstable and can mutate into Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc or any other Pinot grape. It’s also different based upon the terroir of the area the grape is planted, resulting in many different expressions of the grape. However, the best examples are silky and elegant with lush flavors of cherries, strawberries and raspberries. Pinot Noir is considered one of the toughest grapes to get “right,” making these wines a bit pricey. A quick search for the average price of a bottle of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti “La Tache” will reveal numbers beyond the budget of most people. Domaine de la Romanee-Conti is one of the benchmark producers from the Burgundy region of France. Known as one of the most prominent producers of wine in the world, this notoriety is all owed to the quality of their Pinot Noir.
Well, what about wine for the rest of us to drink? Don’t worry there’s plenty of that too! From Chile and Argentina to Austria and Germany and everywhere in between, Pinot Noir is a popular international grape. These grapes prefer cooler regions and the best examples come from France’s Burgundy region, Oregon’s Willamette Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) and the cooler regions of California like Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast AVAs. Also, some great examples come out of New Zealand. These different areas make completely different versions of the wine. Burgundy style wines tend to be earthy, hearty and complex while the California versions tend to have a lot of ripe red berry fruit. Oregon Pinot Noir wines tend to straddle the line between California and Burgundy balancing big fruit with earthy flavors as well. New Zealand Pinot Noirs usually pack tart red fruit and mouth puckering acidity, making it excellent with a big, fatty tuna steak from the same area.
Because Pinot Noir varies so much from region to region, we recommend going to a wine shop or restaurant to ask for suggestions for a top notch bottle. If you’re on a budget and need a great bottle of Pinot Noir this winter, there are plenty of options as well. Evening Land out of Willamette Valley produces silky and beautiful examples of Pinot Noir, emblematic of the region. Cherry Tart is another great bottle made by Cherry Pie Wines, an excellent bottle for under $20.
For those of us who can’t afford the aforementioned bottle of La Tache, another more affordable bottle but excellent quality producer is Louis Latour out of Burgundy. He makes everything from Grand Cru wine to basic burgundy, all of which is great for the price point.
Definitely give Pinot Noir a try this month if you haven’t tried in awhile!