Pinot Noir – a versatile varietal

Winery Barrel Room Felton RoadFind out why Pinot Noir inspires such a passionate following.

Set aside deep, intense, oaky styles of red wine until the weather cools down a bit and get to know Pinot Noir.  For a start it’s so versatile with food and as one of the lightest bodied red varietals, with ample fruit, spice, and earthy gameyness, it easily breaks the rule that insists that white wine must go with seafood, and red wine must go with red meats.

Paul Hopkins from the MMI wine team has chosen three bottles of Pinot Noir from our range.  Compare French Rodet Pommard which comes from the region where this grape variety originated, with two producers who are determined to fulfil the prediction that New Zealand will be the next premium producer of Pinot Noir.    Download the tasting notes here and share your tasting experience in the comments box below.

Pinot Noir is a grape variety with a reputation for being very tricky to grow. Wine writer, Jancis Robinson calls it a “minx of a vine” and influential winemaker André Tchelistcheff declared that “God made Cabernet Sauvignon whereas the devil made Pinot Noir.”

Is it this elusive quality that attracts Pinot Noir enthusiasts? Its sensitivity to where and how it is grown and its low yields partly explain why Pinot-based wines continue to fascinate.

Bottles of pinot noir

Wild Rock Cupids Arrow Pinot Noir

Wild Rock claim to have the best vineyards in the most pristine environment in the world.  They use sustainable methods of viticulture and winemaking to make sure it stays that way.  Cupids Arrow Pinot Noir is full of red fruit flavours like strawberries and raspberries with wild herb notes.  It’s soft, succulent, delicious and an excellent choice to go with lamb chops cooked with a little thyme and a redcurrant glaze.

Rodet Pommard

From the Cote de Beune, the home of Pinot Noir, this is a wine that follows the traditions of centuries of winemaking in this region and Antonin Rodet guarantees exceptional quality.

Visually intense, deep ruby red with violet reflections.  Red berry fruit aromas with smoky, spicy and toasty notes on the nose.   Warm and powerful with flavours of fresh red fruits on the palate.  The tannins are serious yet ripe, silky and smooth.

Felton Road Calvert Pinot Noir

Multi award winning Felton Road wine estate in Central Otago follows a fully organic and biodynamic viticulture policy.  They believe their hands-off approach results in Pinot Noir which expresses the authenticity and complexity of their unique vineyards.  It has a brightly perfumed nose of violet, rose and dark fruit. The aromas lead to a warm and inviting palate with layers of complex spice, dark cherry and chocolate. A powerful wine, yet sufficiently restrained and elegant. Fine tannins frame the wine with great precision and purity, leading to a sustained finish.  An irresistably delicious Pinot.

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Posted in ask an expert


  • Janders
    Sunday 5th June 2011 2:43 pm

    Wild Rock ROCKS – it reminds me automatically to my wife and mine engagement holidays in NZ where we enjoyed wonderful Sauvignon Blancs on Nortehrn Island and the northern part of South Island and brilliant Pinot Noirs “rocked” our southern South Island experience(around Queenstown)- this vine reminds us back to this dramatic and beautiful “Lord of the Rings” scenery down there.

    Juergen Anders

  • grigor
    Sunday 5th June 2011 3:43 pm

    I found it quite strong. Nevertheless, it’s good. You can really differentiate its quality from other red wines. Especially, against the cheap ones. Despite it’s strong alcohol content, it did not have the bitterness and the sour after taste you get from other wines. But, you can really feel the alcohol once you sip it.

    Grigor Scott

  • keithpro1
    Tuesday 14th June 2011 11:30 am

    I’m a big lover of big and beefy red wines but I’ve been working on my taste buds to better appreciate Pinot Noir as the perfect complement to lighter foods
    These examples really helped with my education, I’m nearly a convert but I can’t help pining for the start of the roast dinner season!

    • Grapevine
      Wednesday 15th June 2011 1:00 pm

      Pinot Noir is known as one of the most food friendly wines and would be terrific with something like roast chicken or pork. Let us know how you get on.

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