You may be asking, why pinot? Did I choose that particular varietal because it sounded good with “Peep Toes”? Sure. But more importantly, and Paul Giamatti said it best in Sideways: “It’s a hard grape to grow.”
Pinot noir is thin-skinned and the grapes grow in tight clusters, making it a difficult varietal to pick and highly susceptible to rotting. Its vines have been known to develop powdery mildew. It’s what most would consider a “weak” grape.
It prefers colder climates and has a hard time withstanding the heat and wind like cabernet does. In fact, only very specific regions are able to grow pinot. In California, pinot is grown over a 500-mile coastal span from the Anderson Valley in Mendocino County (far north) to the Santa Ynez Valley (a little north of L.A.).
It seems anything but a survivor. Yet when it’s tended to by the right grower, it is the most enchanting wine.
To me, pinot noir is the woman who has had her heart broken many times yet still believes in love. She does not stay angry at those who have wronged her. Instead, she prays for another love. A better love. And patiently waits to be taken care of by the right person.
Pinot is an ancient grape. She’s seen and experienced a lot. She’s been neglected, left to survive a tough harvest without care. You would think she would have given up by now.
She is paler in color than most reds, but she’s extremely complex. She’s the sweet girl next door – cranberry and cherry and raspberry. But she’s secretly sexy, too – vanilla and clove and licorice. Tobacco, Coca-Cola, and caramel.
Winemaker Robert Mondavi said of her: “When it’s good, pinot noir doesn’t knock your socks off. It slips them off – slowly.”
Sure, she’s a tough grape to handle. She doesn’t trust easily. She’s been bruised. She needs to be nurtured. Only the most believing of growers can bring her to her full potential.
I find pinot noir to be an inspired wine. You would never know how difficult of a year pinot had after drinking a glass because it tastes like falling in love.