An Argentinian wine merchant’s guide to Pinot Noir
Unlike many Argentinian red wine grapes, Pinot Noir isn’t a classic grape of Bordeaux, but a classic grape of Burgundy. Whereas the Cabernet Sauvignon needs relatively warm weather to flourish, the Pinot Noir is known as a cooler-climate grape, excelling in much milder conditions. It is a difficult and variable grape, demanding much of both the vine grower and winemaker. Further, it is much lighter than the other classic red varieties, so much so in fact, that it should be possible to see through a glass of Pinot Noir.
Pinot Noir is usually light in colour with generally lower levels of tannin than most other red varieties and a certain sweet fruitiness. In Argentina, the typical flavours are red cherry, strawberry, a little blackberry and vanilla from oak influence.
Famously, Pinot Noir divides opinion amongst wine lovers. Indeed, it is notorious amongst wine merchants as the wine which you either love or hate. In fact, I’ve been at tasting events showcasing Pinot Noir, and whereas some people taste it and say “Wow, this is the nicest Pinot Noir I’ve tasted in a long time”, others will try the same wine and find it much less to their taste.
As Pinot Noir is often a less weighty wine (though it is possible to get some with more body in them), it generally goes less well with red meat than either Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon. However, Pinot Noir is extremely versatile when it comes to food, going well with ham, turkey, chicken and duck, as well as with pasta and cheese dishes. Moreover, if you aren’t looking for a mealtime wine, Pinot Noir can be an extremely nice wine to drink on its own.
What to look for
Although Argentinian Pinot Noir may not be found at your local wine shop, for those determined to try the best Pinot Noir Argentina has to offer, you should look for wine from regions with cooler conditions. In particular, I would suggest that you look for quality wines from either Patagonia (Neuquen or Rio Negro) or the higher slopes of Mendoza (especially around Tupungato) as these areas are renowned for producing the country’s finest Pinot Noir.