I don’t like to play favourites but Pinot Noir is probably my most beloved grape (please don’t tell Shiraz…). A grape that can taste just as good whether it’s made into a still red or a sparkling white is pretty unbelievable when you think about it.
Pinot Noir is a saucy bitch. She’s so delicious but hard to grow, temperamental, thin skinned, likes cooler temperatures and swears like a trooper. And she’s not cheap. She’s basically the grape equivalent of me! No wonder she’s my favourite. Let’s find out more about her.
Name: Pinot Noir
Age: seriously old, 2000 years plus (even the Romans have chiselled little stone tablet tasting notes about this wine)
Born: Burgundy, France
Temperament: delicate, hard to grow, high maintenance
Likes: cool climates (being grown at altitude or near the ocean), low yields (not carrying too many grapes at a time), some TLC and a gentle touch, dancing in the vineyard in the rain
Dislikes: heat, spring frosts, botrytis bunch rot, powdery mildew, guys who don’t follow through on their promises
Likes to hang with: fish and seafood, cheese platters, lamb, dishes with mushroom and/or truffle
Fun fact: the Pinot Noir grape is considered to be one of the best terroir transmitters going around – which means it will give you that particular taste of exactly where it comes from, in wine form.
Where does good Australian Pinot Noir come from?
Here are some of the best regions for growing Pinot Noir (and therefore producing AMAZING wines) in Australia.
Southern Forest Wine Region (Manjimup and Pemberton)
To get good Pinot in WA, you have to go south. Wayyy south. It’s too warm in Margaret River so you gotta keep driving through the trees until you get to Manjimup and Pemberton.
While it’s a young area in terms of wine production (the first vines were planted experimentally in 1977,and commercial vineyards came in 1982), the relatively cool climate; deep red, loamy, gravel soil; high rainfall and altitude (250 metres above sea level) make it excellent for growing Pinot Noir.
As far as taste goes there is plenty of variation across the region, but generally you will get a wine that is fruit-forward, spicy and earthy, with strawberry, black or sour cherry notes and fine, powdery tannins.
You can find some gorgeous examples here:
When you’re finished in the Southern Forests, keep driving! Some fantastic Pinots are coming from areas within the Great Southern such as Mount Barker, Albany and Denmark. Elevation, aspect, distance from the ocean, and vineyard sites can vary widely throughout this region which leads to lovely differences in flavours, but you should get wines which are light to medium bodied and delicate, with flavours such as strawberry, cherry, earth and smoke.
The cooling effects of the Southern Ocean impact on most wineries across Tassie. The Pinot here is usually light to medium bodied, delicate and fragrant, tasting of red apples, cherry and strawberries. Tasmania also uses Pinot Noir grapes to make some of the best sparkling wine in Australia/the world.
Pinot Noir is the most planted variety in this area. The cooling effect of the Bass Strait plus a variety of rich soil conditions and microclimates is key to the success of Pinot Noir in this area. The wines are typically medium-bodied, have soft tannins, vibrant acidity and taste of strawberry and cherry.
Adelaide Hills is the leading region in South Australia for the production of Pinot Noir and it is the third most planted grape in this area (after Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay). They use the grapes to produce both Pinot Noir and sparkling wines. Pinot Noir from this area is typically more medium bodied, has soft tannins, and richer, ripe cherry and berry flavours
Some examples to try:
Pinot Noir is the most planted and most important variety in this area. The varied elevations and aspects of the vineyards means a range of different tastes of Pinot are produced, one of the oldest and coolest wine regions in Victoria. Typically light to medium bodied with flavours of cherry, strawberry and plum