In the Winery - My Love Affair with Pinot Noir

cheers 5th edition extended tirage

Coming up this Saturday, we are releasing our first ever Pinot Noir.  I have wanted to make Pinot ever since Al and I made our first trip to the Willamette Valley in Oregon in 2008.  This part of Oregon is Pinot country, and most of the producers are boutique wineries that focus predominantly on this one variety.  I fell so hard for Pinot Noir that when we got a puppy in 2011, we named him Pino.  We changed the spelling a bit because I was afraid non-wine enthusiasts might think his name was pronounced Pie-not.  So here we are, ten years after our first trip to Oregon and seven years after we got our puppy, and we finally have our first Pinot Noir.

Sparkling wine aging at l mawby

On the world wine stage, Cabernet Sauvignon always gets the starring role and Pinot Noir is forever the understudy.  Cab is known for being big and bold, and winos use words like "jammy" and "chewy" to describe its mouthfeel and "smoke" and "tobacco" to describe its aroma.  People love to gush about Cab, and if bigger is always better, then Cab is your wine.  Don't get me wrong...I love a good Cab.  And a good Merlot.  And a good Shiraz.  A bold red and a medium-rare filet mignon is about the best food pairing out there.  But if I had to pick one red wine to spend the rest of my dinners with, it would be Pinot Noir.  Why?  I have two main reasons...versatility and approachability.

Burgundian varieties like Pinot Noir tend to be lighter and more delicate than Bordeaux varieties like Cab and Merlot.  Grown in cooler climates, Pinot Noir grapes do not develop as much tannin as Cab, and therefore do not come across as dry.  Pinot is most often finished with little to no residual sugar, but its softer tannin structure gives it a different mouthfeel...what I refer to above as approachability.  Young Cabs are often harsh due to their high tannin content and are best consumed after extended aging.  Pinot Noirs age very well, but are drinkable much younger due to their soft tannin structure.  And when it comes to food pairing, Pinot Noir is incredibly versatile.  A big, bold Cab can overpower a lighter meal, but Pinot plays nicely with a large variety of food.  Steak and Pinot Noir?  For sure.  Mushroom Risotto?  You bet.  Crab cakes?  Yes, please.  Chicken Cordon Bleu?  Yes, even chicken pairs with Pinot Noir.  A hard day at work?  A glass of Pinot pairs well with that too.

make every day a celebration!

So this coming weekend, after ten years of being Pinot Noir lovers, we are now Pinot Noir producers.  Stylistically, it is lighter and more delicate than most reds.  It is fruit forward with a structured mid-palate and a smooth finish.  There is a hint of oak but not too much.  And it is versatile with food.  Since bottling, I've tried it with most of the meals mentioned above (as well as the hard day).  But don't take my word for it...stop in this weekend and try it yourself.  We look forward to seeing you!

Until next time...Cheers!