best free wine tasting asheville, north carolina

Confessions of a Pinot Noir Addict

I was addicted to Pinot before that movie Sideways came out, and I don’t care that my Cab and Merlot drinking friends think I’m wimpy for drinking the stuff. My love affair with the grape began early in my career – in fact, it was a bottle of Van Duzer Pinot Noir in 1998 that was the first red wine that I ever liked. So what is it about this grape and the wine it produces that has such a hold on me?

In good Pinot Noir, there is always a sense of terroir, a French term that basically translates as “sense of place”. More simply, it means that a Pinot Noir from California is not going to taste the same as one from Burgundy because the soil, the weather and the exposure of the vine to the sun is not the same in each place. As a veteran “wine geek”, I find this concept to be completely captivating and engaging. It fuels me to try Pinot Noirs from all parts of the globe.

Pinot Noir is rarely a “big” wine like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Malbec tend to be. Don’t get me wrong, I like all of those grapes, but there is a sensual and seductive characteristic to Pinot Noir that the others often lack. Good Pinot should balance fresh, juicy fruit notes with more complex, savory, elegant earth nuances. These aromas and flavors are rarely obvious and require the drinker to do a little searching. In addition, good Pinot often possesses a silky and sensual texture that draws me back in for sip after sip. In a nutshell, Pinot Noir inspires contemplation, patience and attention, and this might be what captivates me the most.

My favorite spots for Pinot Noir include the Burgundy region of France, Oregon’s Willamette Valley and a few spots in California, most notably the Sonoma Coast, the Russian River Valley and Santa Barbara. All of these spots share the cool climate tendencies necessary to produce good Pinot Noir. This finicky grape is quite difficult to grow and demands a ton of TLC to reach its maximum potential. Thus, good Pinot Noir is rarely had for less than $20, but there are some exceptions.

So the only thing left to do is go home, roast a chicken and some root vegetables, and pop a bottle of Arterberry Maresh Pinot Noir. I encourage you to try the same combination sometime this fall. Cheers and happy eating and drinking in Asheville!