Our Picks: Pinot Noir from around the world
In celebration of International Pinot Noir Day (18th August), we have selected 13 wines that showcase the charms of this variety, which, despite being unpredictable in both the vineyard and winery, has spread from its Burgundian homeland to almost all the world's wine regions.
There are some wonderful site-specific expressions of Pinot Noir being produced in the relatively cool climates of Austria, Germany, Northern Italy, New Zealand's Central Otago, Australia's Yarra Valley, South Africa's Walker Bay, coastal California and Chile, and beyond.
Ranging from silky and elegant to rich and complex, Pinot Noir is also one of the most versatile red wines to match with food - with all but mature examples benefitting from being served cool.
Sourced from biodynamically-grown vines, the Wieninger Pinot Noir Select gets the character of two Viennese vineyards into the bottle. With its light, sandy loess soils, the drier and sunnier Bisamberg site where most of the fruit comes from is ideal for Pinot Noir, producing very fragrant red wines. The smaller Nussberg vineyard has a higher clay content adding greater richness and deeper fruit aromas. Fully destemmed grapes underwent fermentation with indigenous yeats prior to 18 months of ageing in French oak barriques (25% new). Bottled without fining or filtration, this is a wine with great finesse and longevity, with expressive ripe plum, delicate spice and mineral undertones coming through the palate.
Jochen Dreissigacker was so impressed by the complexity achieved from relatively young vines (5-10 years old) that he has named this Rheinhessen Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) `Wunderwerk` which translated means 'wonder piece'. Jochen’s organic and biodynamic vineyard practices and low intervention approach in the cellar also contribute to this wonderfully pure expression of the Pinot Noir grape. Aged for two years in small oak barrels, one third of which are new, this is a scented, supple and lively wine with abundant cherry and strawberry aromas, hints of spicy cinnamon and great velvety tannins.
Franz Haas grows the Pinot Nero for this wine in the best plots of his vineyard in Montagna, Trentino Alto Adige. These plots, at 350-700 metres above sea level, have been carefully selected for their microclimate that particularly suits Pinot Nero. This Pinot Nero is elegant and subtle, with a bouquet with complex aromas of mixed berries, cherries and spicy notes of pepper and leather.
Domaine Chevalier, Ladoix Rouge 2018
This domaine's 15 hectares lie on south-easterly facing chalky-clay soils in Ladoix, right on the doorstep of Aloxe-Corton, in the north of the Côte de Beaune. The Ladoix Rouge is sourced from three parcels of vines averaging 45 years old and is aged in old oak barrels for 12 months. It displays lovely soft perfumes of red cherries and strawberries and wonderful depth of flavour.
The Sautereau family has been producing wine for nine generations in the village of Crézancy. The winery is now run by David Sautereau, whose careful and orderly approach is reflected in the purity of his wines, which offer excellent value. The harmonious profile of this Pinot Noir can be attributed to the iron-rich, chalky soils here. It has a bright, sappy character that is nicely rounded by supple tannins.
The inaugural release from the estate’s ‘Sauvage’ Vineyard, purchased in 2018, is a beautiful example of Pinot Noir from what is affectionately known as the ‘Golden Mile’ in Bannockburn. Richly textured with ripe black plums, cherries and spice. The vineyard, in the process of biodynamic certification, is located under hills once prized for gold in this region, now cloaked in wild thyme and rosehip.
Consistently ranked as one of New Zealand's best Pinot Noirs, only the oldest and most revered parcels of fruit from Ata Rangi’s Home Block in Martinborough are used in this limited release. The fabled Abel clone, allegedly smuggled from Burgundy in the mid-70s, makes up 40% of the blend and gives a complex, beautifully perfumed wine.
This is a superb value cool climate Pinot Noir, sourced from several vineyards in the Overberg region, just outside the Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge, as well as Elgin and Bottelary Hills. Layered aromas of pomegranate, hibiscus and redcurrant are punctuated by lively acidity and earthier tones of juniper and nutmeg.
The 2020 `Peter Max` is 40% whole bunch fermented and aged in 228 and 500 litre French oak barrels. Following in the full bodied footsteps of the 2019 vintage, this multi-vineyard blend displays notes of cranberry, rose and fynbos. Supple tannins with a hint of grip are tempered by the wine’s fresh acidity.
Les Larmes is a superb introduction to Littorai, sourced from selected vineyards across the Anderson Valley, including declassified fruit from Littorai's single vineyards. The 2019 has vivid aromas of blackberry, liquorice and red apple with hints of forest floor and opulent density on the mid-palate.
Surrounded by Carolinian forests and glacial ravines, the picturesque ‘Le Grand Clos’ vineyard parcel was originally selected for its cool climate and limestone-rich clay soils, resembling those of Burgundy’s Côte d’Or. This has layered aromas of pure raspberry and blueberry fruit, with hints of orange peel and spice.
From the coastal vineyards of Zapallar, located seven kilometres from the ocean, where Montes was the first producer to plant vines. This is an elegant Pinot Noir with a smooth palate, round tannins, alongside a fresh fruit character. Vibrant acidity gives the wine a bright and perfumed finish.
The red-clay loam soils of the Primavera vineyard play a critical role in the complex structure and pronounced perfume of this wine. Tight and polished, this Upper Yarra Pinot has beautiful finesse, length and a mouth-filling juiciness.