Vine line to Pinot Noir perfection
Pinot Noir is a promiscuous vine and notoriously difficult to grow because of its unpredictable tendency to mutate (the white wines of Pinot Grigio/Gris and Pinot Blanc) and to degenerate into many different clones.
Originating in France in its native Burgundy (Bourgogne) region, for over 1,000 years, its capricious nature has led to inconsistency of quality.
Why then the attraction of so many countries to try to tame this shrew? Like most love affairs, the answer lies more with the heart than the head. Pinot Noir at its best can be one of the most sensual and seductive of all wines.
Because Pinot Noir ripens early on the vine, its wines mature relatively quickly in the bottle, making it perfect for the impatient because it expresses itself openly when young.
Favouring cooler climates result in light to medium alcohol and body. Pinot Noir's black skins are thin, containing less pigment and tannins. The resulting wines can be served fridge cool with rich white meats and dark pink fleshed fish, tuna and salmon.
1) Pinor Noir 2010, Friedrich Becker Family, Pfalz, Germany 13.5pc
Classic woody and red berry bouquet. Concentrated red berry flavours with woodland notes.
From one of Germany's most awarded Pinot producers. Serve with a paella of chicken legs, mussels and spicy chorizo.
€19.99 at Market 57 and Cabot and Co Westport or cabotandco.com; Poppy Seed, Clarinbridge; Wine & Artisan Shop, No.1 Pery Square, Limerick and On The Grapevine, Dalkey
2) PINOT NERO 2010 Borgo Magredo, Friuli, Italy 12.5pc
Scented with black-skinned fruits and black pastille. Ripe black cherry fruit flavours invade the palate, linger long and slowly retreat on the long fruity finish. Match with rich white meats served with a fruity sauce -- apple or cranberry, with roast pork or turkey.
€11.99 from €14.99 until January 31 at Curious Wines, Cork, curiouswines.ie and Rednose Wine, Clonmel, rednosewine.com
3) PINOT NOIR 2011 Villa du Clos, Pays d'Oc, France 12.5pc
Perfumed with violets and berry aromas. Red berry fruity flavours are supported by firm stalky tannins and overall, well balanced. Try with warm chicken livers and pink grapefruit segments on spinach leaves dressed sparingly with soy sauce and sesame oil.
€13.55 at Wines Direct Shop, Mullingar and winesdirect.ie
4) BOURGOGNE 2011 La Baronne, Les Cheneviers, Burgundy, France 13pc
Vegetal and sappy aromas. Velvet smooth texture. Red fruits and gentle tannins. Liquorice notes. Classic, elegant and typicity. Enjoy with simple baked salmon and a lemon sauce.
€15.50 at frenchwines.ie
5) SANCERRE ROUGE 2010 Moulin des Vrilleres, Christian Lauverjot 12.5pc
Sappy rosehip aroma. Redcurrant flavoured liquorice, gentle tannins and medium- bodied. Exotic strawberry liquorice finish. Chill with a grilled rare tuna steak topped with fried shredded fennel and red peppers.
€17.50 at frenchwines.ie
6) BOURGOGNE HAUT-COTES DE BEAUNE 2011 Domaine Henri Naudin- Ferrand, Burgundy, France 12.5pc
Lovely perfumed hedgerow berries. Silky smooth with supple tannins. Red cherry and strawberry flavours. Fresh and crisp with a gentle grip of tannin. Go wild with a game stew of rabbit or pheasant with earthy root vegetables.
€19.50 from €22.45 until end December at Wines Direct Shop, Mullingar and winesdirect.ie