When we think of Pinot Noir, we conjure up those opulently mature, earthy and fragrantly feral Burgundian beasts. That is, when things go right. For Pinot Noir is the most mercurial of red grapes and it can go badly wrong with high yields. It is also flexible and delivers interesting variations outside of Burgundy. A cooler climate, though, is crucial for Pinot Noir. In fact it is even getting too hot in Burgundy for the producers’ liking. Here are some delicious examples of where it works well!

Champagne

Champagne is issued from Chardonnay (white), Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir (red). Champagne made uniquely from red grapes is a blanc de noirs and is drier, crisper and more savoury than blanc de blancs. Try Bollinger’s R.D.

Sancerre

Peppery, spicy reds and rosés. Try Minchin, Alphonse Mellot, Vincent Pinard, Domaine Vacheron, Domaine du Carron. I am drinking Michin’s Célestin 2010.

Auvergne

In the stony foothills of the Massif Central, try my current daily tipple: Croix d’Or Pinot Noir 2012, a rosé full of strawberries and crisp mineral acidity.

Alsace

Pinot Noir is the only permitted red grape here. It produces a lighter, less tannic version than Burgundy. But with climate change, the grapes are getting riper and the wines more concentrated and more producers are making still reds as opposed to only crémants. So watch this space. Try: Hugel & Fils, Albert Mann, Lucien Albrecht, Marcel Diess.

Note: Use www.wine-searcher.com to find a wine merchant near you.

Originally published in the October-November 2013 issue of France Today

 

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