With this in mind, we’ve come up with some useful titbits which will impress your friends next time you’re out to dinner or doing the cellar door circuits.
Firstly, when pronouncing it remember to drop the ‘t’, so it sounds like ‘pee-no nwar’
Pinot Noir is a combination of two French words which literally translates to ‘Pine Black’, named for the skin of the tightly clustered grapes on the vines which look like pine cones, and the shade of the dark coloured fruit. Fun fact: Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio, also have pine shaped bunches, hence their names too.
Grapes used to make Pinot Noir are some of the most difficult variety to grow and suffer in changing weather and as susceptible to many diseases, so hats off to the vignerons that persist and conquer.
The Mornington Peninsula is famous for consistently delivering quality Pinot Noir as these vines prefer the region’s cool maritime climate to ripen slowly so they develop a soft rounded fruitiness.
Other areas internationally growing lots of Pinot include most notably Burgundy (France) and also Central Otago (NZ), California and Oregon (USA) - and the list goes on.
Where you find Pinot Noir you will usually find Chardonnay, and that’s certainly true with the Mornington Peninsula region. Why? It’s all to do with the origin of the grapes being related and therefore both varieties enjoying the same soil type and climate.
The six dominant flavours you’ll find across many Pinot Noirs are; cranberries, cherries, raspberries, plums, cloves and mushrooms making it versatile for pairing with food and depending on the maturity it will go well with so many dishes. Commonly it’s enjoyed with duck, mushrooms, salmon and Charcuterie with hams and other cold meats. What’s not to love?
Now that you have a deeper connection with this elegant drop, you’ll be wondering where to indulge in a few glasses (or bottles). Fortunately, the breezes from across Port Phillip Bay and Bass Straight coupled with expert winemakers means there is plenty ripe for the picking on the Mornington Peninsula. Since the 1970’s start of winemaking in the region there are now 50 cellar doors to discover, but here is just a handful of those which we suggest stopping by for some Pinot Noir.
Polperro by Even Keel
Find the traditional winemaking practice of hand-plunge Pinot Noir from three single vineyard sites – each with their own character. This process pushes the skins of the grapes down into the fermenting wine and winemaker Sam Coverdale believes it produces a better wine.
Single vineyard and reserve Pinot Noir with a classic Pinot palate of cherry and spice flavours opening up to reveal a nice juiciness and increasing flavour intensity.
Just released their milestone 30th vintage, and have come a long way since the small shed cellar door that they operated in the late ‘80’s.
Main Ridge Estate
Just 3 hectares in size, but regional pioneers in Pinot Noir. Huon Hooke’s team at ‘The Real Review’ nominate Main Ridge Estate as one of the top 100 wineries in Australia in 2018. Plus they have just announced that their ‘Half Acre’ Pinot Noir has again been recognised as ‘Outstanding’ in Langton’s Classification of the top 136 wines.
Merricks General Wine Store
Featuring Pinot from Baillieu vineyard (hand harvested, estate grown) and Elgee Park (oldest vineyard on the peninsula).
Single vineyard and single block release Pinot
Their Cri De Coeur Pinot Noir has been listed in the Top 10 Australian pinot Noirs in ‘James Suckling’s Top 100 Australian Wines for 2017’
Stumpy Gully Vineyard
A new release is available this Spring with wild yeast from the vineyard resulting in a very intense plum and strawberry aroma balanced with velvet cedary tannins from maturation in French oak barrels. Pinot Noir lovers will enjoy this drop now or cellar it for up to 6 years for an even more intense and aromatic flavour.
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