Pinot Noir

“Cabernet is for doctors, lawyers and businessmen. Pinot Noir is for artists, and people who enjoy life.” So said Jean-Marie Fourrier, one of Gevrey-Chambertin’s top winemakers, when hosting a tasting of wines in the late 2000s. Ironically, prices of wines from Burgundy, Pinot Noir’s heartland, have rocketed over the past decade, making it more likely that only captains of industry, rather than aspiring Andy Warhols, will be able to afford it. But you can see what he was getting at with his tongue-in-cheek appraisal. Nothing compares with Burgundy’s synthesis of brambles, berries and cow shit. At its best it’s powerful yet weightless, rustic yet refined, as aromatic as lying under a hedge in a well-manicured garden with a bonfire close by. Early ripening with good acidity, thin skins and moderate tannins, it’s nicknamed the ‘heartbreak grape’ because of its sensitivity to poor growing conditions. Elsewhere, Pinot Noir is grown in Champagne, for use in blends as well as single varietal Blanc de Noirs, while Sancerre, Alsace, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and the USA all produce delicious wines. But once you have revelled in a perfect Vosne-Romanée, will anything compare again?