Pinot Noir, it seems, is the Machiavellian of the group. Often misunderstood and cast aside by the “Big Red” reviewers only to be discovered after hours at A-List parties. Pinot Noir swirls and lingers with the most refined of foods, seemingly indiscriminate in selecting a pairing opportunity. However, none of them seems to hang around long before the next course comes into view.
A Brief History of the Pinot Family Wines
Subtitle: Champagne Deconstructed
Pinot Meunier, mind you, is not damaged goods - used maybe, but aren’t we all? When left to his own fermentation, Pinot Meunier produces a very interesting and noteworthy wine. Usually a light garnet color, but with all the food friendly, mid-palate pleasure you could ask for. Endowed (naturally) with more acidity than Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier plays well with several food groups.
Let’s start the discussion with Pinot Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir. Things were more than fine way back when. They were “all in” Champagne even before Casablanca was popular. Looking back, they will always have Paris.
Pinot Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier held close together as they were “whole cluster pressed.” A close cousin, Pinot Noir, was also hanging around and from time to time it was a Ménage à trois. But all good things eventually come to an end as we can imagine from this quote “Riddle me no more, I am ready to be disgorged!”
As they traveled around the world, Pinot Chardonnay and Pinot Noir became the most famous. Pinot Meunier, while still a handsome variety in Champagne, did not travel well. Alas, fame and fortune has changed many successful relationships. As time went by, Pinot Chardonnay was looking to step out of the shadows and spread her wings.
She became quite well known as Chardonnay. There were several fermentation techniques including racy stainless steel. Perhaps new French oak would make a fine foil for her more supple charms. There was always the possibility of a malo-lactic fermentation, but you could never count on it.
Today’s Chardonnay is a beautiful and mischievous wine with passion fruit aromas and scintillating expressions of lemon grass and citrus. It is energetic and pure, a complete wine in her own right from start to finish. And that is why there will be no “Pinot” on the Chardonnay label.