From My Knowldege and Experiences

The Perfection Of “Pinot Noir”

Sunday, May 1, 2022
This issue we continue our exploration of the different “genres” of wines that are available to drink in Indonesia, moving on from the first review of Chardonnay. Our guest wine expert is the wonderful Ni Nyoman Kertawidyawati, SE Par, CHT, CHE Corporate Training and Development Manager at PT Hatten Bali but she is also Advisor of the Indonesia Sommelier Association Bali Chapter and Secretary of Asian Wine Producers Association – AWPA among her many other titles and awards. To her friends she is just Widya!

If you like the taste of strawberries, raspberries and cherries and prefer your wine with a light body, and very soft and light in tannin like I do, then you must like Pinot Noir! In my early stages of drinking wine, drinking red wine with soft tannin and good red fruit character helped me to enjoy the wine better. Intense tannin and black fruit flavour and acidity was not enjoyable for my Indonesia palate.

So let me introduce you to my early stage red wine: Pinot Noir! A red grape variety that is very sensitive to heat making the wine early maturing and since it ripenes under cool temperatures that makes the grape best to plant in moderate and cool climates. What happens if the the Pinot Noir grape grows in too cool temperature during ripening? The grapes are not be able to have their balance and true ripening of the grape will be difficult, creating a flavour like vegetables such as cabbage and wet leaves, the last thing that you would like to taste in your wine! But if the temperatures are too hot, the grapes lose their delicate red fruit flavour and become jammy flavour! This is the type of grape that needs to have extra babysitting during planting in the vineyard!

Most people think that red grapes make red wine and white grapes make white wine, it does seem logical doesn’t it, but the thin coloured skin of the Pinot Noir grapes is a very pale pink colour, meaning pinot noir could be produced as white wine, especially in the Champagne area as their compulsory ingredients (protected by law in Champagne) make it compulsory to use Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes.

It may ring a ring a bell to you if we associate Pinot Noir with one famous wine region in France, Burgundy aka Bourgogne, known as “red Burgundy” even in the Burgundy area each village show slightly different aspects and personality to their wines, so they are given their own appellations: a distinct identity of their wine region based on the location and that can be stated on the wine bottle as their unique characteristics that are already known by the market. Some famous villages are Gevrey- Chambertin, Nuits-Saint-George, Beaune and Pomard.

Pinot Noir is also one of the key grape varieties in Germany known as Spätburgunder especially in the southern region such as Pfalz and Baden, the cool climate created the light body but very aromatic red berry fruit wines with light in tannins. It’s also spread widely to the new world wine regionswhere there are some challenges with the temperature of growing making the wine not on its best quality. But some exceptional cool and moderate areas are creating very interesting wines from the new world wine region, for example; California especially Oregon in USA, where the influence of the cool breeze of the Pacific Ocean, or Marlborough and Central Otago in the cool climate areas of New Zealand, make Pinot Noir as the second most popular variety in the country (2012, The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson and Julia Harding).

In terms of the winemaking process, Pinot Noir is rarely blended as it is outstanding as a single grape variance, except in the production of Sparkling wine. Even a red burgundy has to be 100 % of Pinot Noir. Aging and maturing of the wine in oak barrels especially of premium quality are common but usually not using new oak barrels as it could overpower the delicate flavour of fruit. As the wine is a very delicate fruit, the complexity of the wine shows by the maturation process. In aging, the elegant flavour of truffle, leather, earth, some herbs and spices character the wines.

For my wine review of Pinot Noir, I would like to take you not to the Burgundy area but to other areas that provide you with interesting Pinot Noirs. First to Oregon, USA to try  Domaine Drouhin Dundee Hills Pinot Noir. It’s burgundy roots influenced the winery with exceptional terroir of moderate cool climate that allowed them to produce best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the region. Hence the expression: “French Soul, Oregon Soil” giving a result of superb elegant wines with a very tempting bouquet of raspberies, dark cherries and floral with plums, and sour cherries, balanced nice acidity and very soft and round tannin in the palate. I believe it is a wine with potential for aging, a wine that you could keep, of course in a good storage conditions, for more than 10 years.

The other interesting areas to explore are in New Zealand especially the Marlborough Region, try the Villa Maria The Cellar Selection Pinot Noir. An interesting tasting as we expected it to have the red fruit character of mixed berries, velvety tannins and delicious dried herbs of thyme and rosemary. I choose the Cellar Selection to taste the exceptional wine selected from their specific vineyard to able to taste what the best terroir is giving to the wine and to see how oak aging influence to the wines. For pure fruitiness you might want to try their Private Bin selection which is a totally different wine tasting experience compared to the wine from Oregon.

It’s a good idea if you want to see their documentary movie called “Vintage” while you enjoy their wine, it shows us the journey of their passion and the beautiful region on how they make world-class wine in New Zealand #VintagebyVillaMaria. What better experience to see their documentary movie while enjoying their hard work and passion in your glass!

The last review will be for your daily drinking as it offers you an affordable wine with fresh red fruit character, which is the showcase on how Pinot Noir is expected to taste: red fruit character, with mixed rich berries flavour, light in body and enjoyable light tannin. This is offered by Two Islands Pinot Noir by Hatten Winery, or you might also want to explore on how Pinot Noir in the form of the sparkling wine in the Two Islands Reserve  Chardonnay  and  Pinot  Noir, which are interesting refreshing bubbles made in the traditional method, with grapes sourced from the Adelaide Hill region.

Pinot Noirs are food friendly, easy for pairing, with classical pairings of Pinot Noir are Duck dishes but you could also pair it with a cheese platter and super easy pairing with rich Indonesian food with a lot of spice! For those who only drink red wine, Pinot Noir will be your answer to Indonesia food pairing. I enjoy my crispy duck with Balinese spices with the fresh fruit Pinot Noir, the wine and food just compliment each other giving a rich and excellent blend in my palate, something that you don’t want to miss…



WSET Certified Educator / Head of Hatten Education Center

Check  as Widya just recently launched the fun education card deck for easy and fun learning.

www.nowjakar | May-June 2021