Pinot Noir is a finicky grape, yet it produces beautiful, nuanced wine. Why is it finicky? Or difficult? Or challenging?
Pinot Noir grapes are thin skinned. They are more susceptible to frost, rot and fungus. The vineyard manager’s needy child. But when carefully cultivated, they create some of the most lovely wines. Recently, I was fortunate enough to sample two entirely different, entirely delicious, Pinot Noirs.
I’m going to start with a California Pinot from the Santa Lucia Highlands, Hahn SLH 2017 Pinot Noir. This wine is a rich, full-bodied Pinot with red, black and brambly fruit in front. A strong, earthy backbone gives this wine excellent structure. It’s decadently smooth with lovely soft tannins. It pairs well with dark chocolate, and drinks equally well on its own. The price can range from just under $20, an absolute steal, to $30.
The second Pinot, so completely different, is a classic style Pinot from the Willamette Valley in Oregon. The Willamette Vineyards 2016 Estate Pinot Noir. This wine has lifted flavors of bright red cherry, a touch of bittersweet chocolate and a touch of earth. This is an excellent pairing wine; if you’re eating it, this wine will complement it. Average price for this exquisite Pinot is $27.