The Haunting Passions of Pinot Noir

Forget bubbles. If you really want to experience the quickened pulse and shortness of breath of new romance then it’s got to be Pinot Noir.

Pinot Noir is not for the faint hearted, oh no.  This is not gushy, smoochy, saccharine romance topped with spun sugar.  It’s the haunting, dark, nail biting type that hooks into your heart and taunts you to the edge of insanity.

If there were a wine equivalent of a Bronte novel, Pinot Noir would be it.

Often referred to as the ‘heart-break’ grape this most sensitive of varieties is a demanding mistress that’s hard to tame, and has been known to send viticulturists and wine makers into depths of despair and longing.

It’s one of the most difficult grapes to grow, prone to disease and problems of every persuasion, and is incredibly picky about climate and soil type. Just finding a way to keep this pouting prima donna happy is an elusive game that few can master.


And the Pinot love affair is not restricted to those on the production side either. Pinot Noir’s tantalising flavour profile of chocolate, cherries, vibrant berries, smoky coals, truffle and warm spices is imbued with vampire like fangs.  Once bitten, Pinot Noir enthusiasts zealously crusade on a never ending quest to find the next great Pinot experience.

“Once bitten, Pinot Noir enthusiasts zealously crusade on a never ending quest to find the next great Pinot experience.”

One explanation for just why passions are so inflamed by this wine is that the earthy, gamey aromas mimic our own human pheromones – those whiffy bits of us that stimulate romantic attraction. Whether or not you think it smells like teen spirit, Pinot Noir’s aromas are certainly tantalising and exotic.

Most famous as the dominant red varietal from Burgundy in France, Pinot Noir is only grown successfully in just a few small, cool climate pockets of the globe.  In Australia, we’re fortunate enough to have some areas that Pinot Noir tolerates, and even thrives in, including Tasmania, the Mornington Peninsula and the Yarra Valley.

Wine makers and vignerons are constantly striving to manage her delicate temperament and extract from her the very best she can offer.  And what an offer!  That intriguing flavour combination, and dazzling aromas of bright red fruit and deep black earth, make it unlike any other red wine.

pinot noir


What food goes with Pinot Noir?

She may be temperamental to produce, but when it comes to food and wine matching Pinot Noir is as flexible and easy as they come, and is the ultimate cross dresser – a red wine that goes beautifully with white meats and lighter foods, as well as with earthy, gamey flavoured foods.

The most famous Pinot Noir food match is duck, but it’s equally at home serenading mushrooms and other lighter game meats such as hare and pheasant.  It’s brilliant with heavier chicken dishes too, like a tagine or coq au vin, and also oily fish such as salmon.  And the toasty, fruity flavours of Pinot Noir also make an excellent foil to foods with warm aromatics like star anise, fennel and cinnamon.

Three easy-to-find Pinot Noirs to try:

I think I like you – Josef Chromy Pepik $19.00 Excellent value abounds in this lush, garnet coloured wine from Tasmania, which has seen only minimal handling to let the ripe dark cherry flavours shine through.

I definitely love you – Goaty Hill Pinot Noir $35.00 Another Tasmanian Pinot Noir punching above it’s weight. This one is a love song to the lighter red fruit flavours and aromas, like raspberry and strawberry, with some nice oak.

I want to spend the rest of my life with you –  Yering Station Reserve Pinot Noir $79.00 Smoother and silkier  than your best pantyhose, this Yarra Valley Pinot Noir is dripping with rich dark fruit, chocolate and spice.

By Jane Thomson

(Parts of this article first appeared in the Australian Good Food Guide and were republished here with permission.)



1 comment

  1. Teresa Bassham

    well done, I LOVE the article – so well written and I LOVE Pinot Noir!!!!

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