Since it can be such a pain in the butt to grow – often promising heaven and then putting winemakers through hell – pinot noir has earned a reputation as the heartbreak grape. Even when it has the home vineyard advantage – as it does in France’s Burgundy region – there’s no guarantee of a happy ending.
That said, this fickle piece of fruit has surprised many by warming up to wineries in less traditional cooler climate areas like those in New Zealand and North America.
While the movie Sideways may have you thinking California is the only state squeezing some amazing juice out of pinot, the grape is the signature red of its northern neighbour Oregon; with the Firesteed 2007 Oregon Pinot Noir ($17.95 - $22.99) uncorking flowing cherry aromas and relaxed, soft strawberry-infused flavours.
Pinot noir is a great warm weather red; matching with grilled chicken and meatier fish as well as it does laid-back summer menus.
Peter Rockwell is the everyman’s wine writer, working in the liquor industry for more than 25 years and travelling the globe looking for something to fill his glass and put into words.