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  • Writer's pictureClaire @ fromthegrapevine

Why are you so into Pinot?

Updated: Aug 22, 2020

This was the question asked of Miles, in the famous scene in the film Sideways. If you haven't seen it, watch below as Miles describes the beauty and lovable quirks of the Pinot Noir grape.

August 18th is International Pinot Noir Day, so if - like Miles - you're a fan, here's my choice of 3 excellent bottles of Pinot Noir.

Wine One - Kumeu River Ray's Road (Hawke's Bay) Pinot Noir 2018

Picture of bottle of Kumeu River Pinot Noir

Mid-weight New Zealand pinot noir from Kumeu's new Hawke's Bay single vineyard, Ray's Road. With fine-grained tannins and a delicious mixture of sweet and savoury flavours, this is sure to please lovers of serious pinot.

The Brajkovich family own the highly regarded Kumeu River Estate near Auckland.

Michael Brajkovich, who was incidentally the first New Zealander to become a Master of Wine, has been the winemaker since 1982. His non-conformist and forward-thinking approach has been particularly successful in creating wines that show the hallmarks of New Zealand although there is a definite Old Word inspiration throughout. Michael’s brothers Milan and Paul look after the vineyards and sales respectively so it is all a real family effort. In 2017, the family acquired the Rays Road vineyards in Hawkes Bay, where their skills continue to shine!

Pinot noir here is restrained in structure and discreet of fruit and definitely more akin to Burgundy than New Zealand.

This wine is sold through the Wine Society at £21.00. It's at the top end of From the Grapevine's budget, but worth it.

Wine 2 - Edna Valley - California, Majestic Wine, £15.99 (£9.99 on a mix six)

Edna Valley lies between San Francisco and Los Angeles in California, and is just five miles form the coast. The climate here would ordinarily be too hot to grow grapes, let along Pinot Noir, which is a fussy grape that prefers a cooler climate. However, the Edna Valley lies east and west, meaning the cool pacific winds and early morning fogs get sucked inland over the vines to cool the grapes down and lengthen the ripening process.

The grapes are harvested in the cool hours of early morning and then the wine is aged in French oak barrels for 6-8 months.

We rolled out this wine for a wine tasting in Swindon to honour Pinot Noir Day in 2019 and the tasters loved this wine and were not surprised it was the priciest of the night. Many would be tempted to buy it again for a special occasion. They described this as "lovely", "best of the night" and it brought back memories for one couple who had honeymooned in California. They said this wine was very typical of the bottles they had consumed back then.

You can buy this wine in Majestic Wine (there are stores in Marlborough and Cirencester, but they also offer free delivery to Swindon when you buy more than 6 bottles). It's £15.99, or £9.99 on a mix six deal.

Wine 3 - Incanta, Romania, Majestic Wine, £7.99 (£6.49 on a mix six)

Picture of bottle of Incanta Pinot Noir

This wine is from the winery Cramele Recas, which was founded by Bristol born Philip Cox. He moved to Romania 30 years ago with his Romanian wife and started a boutique winery.

This business has now grown into the third largest wine producer in Romania where he churns out 65 different wines including Incanta Pinot Noir. Romania is off the beaten track in terms of wine production and this example would cost at least twice the price if Romania wasn’t still under the wine radar. Enjoy it before others discover it!!

I have had this wine blind tasted at two events so far. I was keen to get verdicts on whether people enjoyed it before they knew about the price tag. There was some criticism of the label, with a taster pointing out it made the wine look cheap, but on both occasions, this wine was a real hit with the tasters, bursting with flavours of redcurrants, raspberry and jam. They raved about the wine even before the price tag was revealed.

You can buy this wine in Majestic Wine (there are stores in Marlborough and Cirencester, but they also offer free delivery to Swindon when you buy more than 6 bottles). It's £7.99, or £6.49 on a mix six deal.


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