Pinot Noir

An Introduction to Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir has been the most successful varietal in the past 10 years from a marketing stand point. Its popularity can be traced back to the film, Sideways. But I think that whether Sideways came out or not, Pinot was still going to be a popular varietal. I will say that Sideways did decimate Merlot. Wine drinkers in the US were tired of Cabernet; more so, having to pay high prices for a decent Cabernet. Just like in all sorts of fads the pendulum usually swings to the complete opposite. Well Pinot was the complete opposite of Cabernet. It did not have the body, the tannins nor the same aromas and flavors of Cabernet. If the wine world was looking for a switch, Pinot was the obvious choice.

I did this seminar several times. First with our staff and again with our guests. I took a different approach with each seminar. But what most people really enjoyed learning was the history and the tidbits of Pinot Noir. It dates back to the 13th century and has been the staple grape in many of the worlds greatest wines. It is also a very temperamental grape in that it has extreme mood swings from year to year. It is a grape that you will either love or hate.

The following seminar will take you through out the globe and discuss the different styles of Pinot Noir. My intention was to turn people on to Pinot Noir from other regions and get them to look outside of California for their Pinots. I started the seminar with each attendee reading a short quote on Pinot Noir, below are some of those quotes.
“The most romantic of wines, with so voluptuous a perfume, so sweet an edge, and so powerful a punch that, like falling in love, they make the blood run hot and the soul wax embarrassingly poetic”
-Master Sommelier Madeline Triffon

It’s a hard grape to grow…thin skinned, temperamental, ripens early…it’s not a survivor like Cabernet, which can grow anywhere and thrive even when it’s neglected. No, Pinot needs constant care and attention…it can grow in these really specific, little, tucked away corners of the world. And only the most patient and nurturing of growers can do it, really. Only somebody who takes time to understand Pinot’s potential can then coax it into its fullest expression.”
-Miles from Sideways

“When it’s great, Pinot Noir produces he most complex, hedonistic and remarkably thrilling red wine in the world…”
-Robert Parker

“Good Pinot has an elegant, velvety taste that tends to be less intense, less tannic and more berry-like than Cabernet Sauvignon.”
-Dorothy Gaiter, Wall St. Journal
“…elegant, soft tannins a very fine bouquet which is difficult to describe, reminiscent of raspberries and almonds…”
-official of Austrian Wine Marketing Board

“…at once elegant and earthy, musty and fresh, pungent and expansively fragrant”
-Robert Finigian Wine Critic

“The Pinot has a pretty robe, glistening and shimmering like a cat’s eye, sparkling like a diamond.”
-Henri Jayer Burgundy winemaker

“Pinot must be full and fleshy, fat and concentrated, but discreet, supple, and soft at the same time, and it must have definition…”
Henri Jayer Burgundy winemaker

“pinot…harmonious,balanced ample and concentrated, but also elegant.”
-Anne Gros Burgundy winemaker
“Pinot is the only red variety that is completely honest, totally clean, no gimcracks; no little hints and fringes that never come through.
-Ken Burnap winemaker

“Pinot Noir is strong, hard-hitting, clean red wine. In my experience it is the one wine that keeps your taste buds alive and perking through dinner.
-Ken Burnap winemaker

“…like Merchant Ivory Movie…refined, beautiful, ethereal and intellectually appealing.”
-Sarah Kemp publisher for Decanter

“..are sensous, often erotic, above rational discourse, and beyond measured criticism”
-Oz Clarke wine writer

“at their best, Pinot Noirs are the 3 most romantic of wines, with so voluptuous a perfume, so sweet an edge, and so powerful a punch that, like falling in love, they make the blood run hot and the soul wax embarrassingly poetic.”
-Joel Fleischman Vanity Fair

“…raw, succulent and fleshy textural sensuality…inherent elegance and grandeur…”
-Richard Paul Hinckle wine writer

“choke full of incredible texture and hedonistic pleasures”
-Madeline Triffon master sommelier

“it’s sex in a glass, so seductive, it’s hard to say no…”
-Madeline Triffon Master Sommelier

“The King of natural wines…”
-George Saintsbury wine writer

“enigmatic, flamboyant and engaging at one moment and acerbic and angular at another”
-Dan Berger wine writer
“cursed with a personality so sour it would make the grinch look like Santa Claus…”
-Dan Berger wine writer

“..its makers are lunatic-fringe, questers after the holy grail…”
-Marc de Villiers wine writer

“They called it the heartbreak grape because it was so stubborn, so particular, so elusive, so damn difficult to get right. And also because when it was at its best it made the most sublime wine of all. The heartbreak grape? You cannot break a heart without having captured it first.”
-Marc de Villiers wine writer

“…minx of a vine…”
-Jancis Robinson

“God made cabernet sauvignon whereas the devil made pinot noir”
-Andre Tchelistcheff winemaker

“A true living species…like humans, a joy to be with one day and moody bastards the next.”
-Maurice DiMarino the guy giving this seminar

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