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Svelte and seductive Pinot Noirs

Doug Sloan

Often as light as a Rosé, Pinot Noir’s spiritual home is in France’s Burgundy. Sadly, good Burgundy doesn’t come cheap. But that doesn’t mean that exploring the many alternative subtleties of Pinot Noir has to be overlooked, under-appreciated or just plain misunderstood.

Start your explorations of ‘The Heartbreak Grape’ with a surprisingly silky and affordable local Pinot Noir.  Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery ‘Rock Wren’ Pinot Noir (39412) $11.29 overflows with bright strawberry and blackberry fruit notes and finishes with a delicate and quite delightful touch of cinnamon.

Our own B.C. winemakers are working with ripe fruit in a variety of different microclimates. Even sophisticated wine lovers – with international palates – are coming to realize how perfect our Okanagan Valley is for ripening Pinot Noir into a variety of different styles.

Grown on the Naramata Bench and actually crafted as a Rosé, Howling Bluff ‘Summa Quies’ Pinot Noir (758177) $18.99 is made from 100 per cent Pinot Noir. It offers delicate aromas and flavours of strawberry, raspberry and blackberry in a seductive medley that slides into a squirt of lemon peel citric flavours.  Don’t over chill this light wine… that will mute the delicate flavours.

Silky and seductively feminine in style Cassini Pinot Noir (167007) $19.10 comes from grapes grown on the Osoyoos East Bench located above the Osoyoos Lake. It is a lighter bodied red with delicate aromas of cherry, anise vanilla and blackcurrant with a nice fruity red berry and toffee finish. Sweet on first sip, it is seductively smooth as it slips over the tongue.

With its comparatively delicate layers of aroma and flavour from violets through berries and green vegetables and herbs into spices, leather, roasted meats and a mushroom and truffle kind of medley often described as “forest floor” – Pinot Noir is much more about subtlety than sheer power.

Pinot Noir is not only grown in Burgundy in France. Bertaine et Fils Pinot Noir (741330) $16.99 displays the regional characters of the Aude Valley in southwestern France in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains. Expect a light to medium bodied palate showing fruit driven flavours of ripe cherry, red currant and strawberry with a dash of peppery cinnamon spice and subtle oak on the nose.

Exposed as “The Heartbreak Grape” in Marq de Villiers’ 1994 study, Pinot Noir has long been considered difficult to grow successfully and just as challenging to turn into fine wine.

Much like our own winemakers experience here in British Columbia, New Zealand’s winemakers are discovering they, too, have winning ways when it comes to growing and making Pinot Noir.

The Riverlore label features a Taniwha. In New Zealand mythology, Taniwha are creatures that live in deep pools in rivers, dark caves, or in the sea, especially in places with dangerous currents or deceptive breakers.

A deeply flavoured light red wine, Riverlore Pinot Noir (459503) $18.50 shows aromas of dark fruits with flavours of cranberry, raspberry and strawberry and an earthy smoky oak finish.

And - of course – there are countless fine Pinot Noir wines being made in California.  With the sale of Meiomi (278937) $26.99 to Constellation Brands, Richard Wagner came up with a riper and more richly flavoured alternative.

Wagner’s Tuli Sonoma County Pinot Noir ((284521) $28.49 is a well-endowed red full of blackberry and black cherry aromas and flavours.

Outrageously rich on first sip, it has a graceful, lengthy finish of sweet candied cherries and a sprinkling of cloves and cinnamon.

And then there’s Burgundy! Beaune’s vineyards are the most extensive of the Côte de Beaune, between Savigny to the North, and Pommard to the South and include 36 Premiers Crus.

Needing an hour in a decanter to open up and strut its legendary stuff, Louis Jadot’s Beaune Grèves Premier Cru (877068) $75.65 shows a lush, plump medley of cherry, raspberry and blackberry fruit and light notes of vanilla, caramel and hazelnut in the silky finish.


North Island College’s Third Course Bistro Wine Festival is coming to Campbell River Nov. 18. Tickets to this gala event are $55 per person and are now available at the Merecroft Village Liquor store, Royal Coachman Liquor store, Gourmet Essentials, Metro Liquor stores at Timberline Village & Discovery Harbour – as well as at NIC`s Campbell River and Comox Valley campus bookstores.


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