IF pinot noir grapes were teenage girls, they would constantly be told off by their mums.
They prefer cool, moderate conditions but they aren’t really dressed for it to be honest. Their skins are thin, like flimsy little cardies and at the first sign of bad weather all sorts of temper tantrums can be had, with many harvests damaged.
Saying that, these grapes are at the heart of some of the world’s best wines. Burgundy reds. German pinot noir – spätburgunder – can be a dream. Germany is the world’s third largest pinot noir grower.
The grapes are also cultivated in the New World. Molly-coddled might be a better word, as winegrowers take all care to pander to these grapes’ special needs. Teenage girls indeed.
It’s worth it though.
Because pinot noir grapes are thin-skinned, the tannins in the wines can be low – no gummy teeth-sticky dryness.
Young pinot noir can be full of strawberries, raspberries and cherries. Older wines can have earthy, savoury aromas. A damp, grassy puddle in the autumn. Herbs and wet wood.
Talk about a wine for all seasons – I enjoyed pinot noir with Crimbo dinner – but a couple of nights ago as the sun set it was a spätburgunder with me in the garden.
The wine which inspired this pinot reverie is Salwey Spätburgunder 2010 (£13.49 www.laithwaites.co.uk) made by Konrad Salwey, who I met in Baden.
“Most joy and attraction” he exclaimed. I’d presumed he meant his pinot, not me. But yes, it is. Spicy cherries, redcurrants, smooth, long-lasting velvety complexity.
Also in my glass