Pinot Noir, Beaujolais

Pinot Noir is a red grape that is one of the most challenging to grow in any part of the world. Due to its thin skin and tight bunches, it is susceptible to both mould and disease. However, when it is successful, it produces some of the most amazing wines in the world. Although its home is Burgundy, it has emerged as a popular variety in Australia. Representing only 1% of grapes crushed, it has built a high profile with a number of world-class, distinctly Australian wines being produced. The greatest examples coming from the cool climates of the Adelaide Hills, Tasmania, Mornington Peninsula, Geelong and the Yarra Valley.

Pinot Noir performs well on the deepish limestone based subsoils that are found on Burgundy's Côte d'Or. However, yields need to be kept in check. Pinot Noir's concentration and varietal characters disappear rapidly if yields are excessive. Some of the best and most expensive wines in the world are still found in Burgundy.

Pinot Noir also plays a key role in Champagne, being blended with Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. In the US, Oregon and Washington state are producing outstanding wines. In New Zealand, great Pinot Noirs are crafted in Martinborough and in Central Otago, New Zealand's only true continental climate.

The thin skins of Pinot Noir mean the wines are lighter in colour, body and tannins. However, the best wines have grippy tannins, fragrance and an intensity of fruit seldom found in wine from other grapes. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet, but as it matures, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouthfeel with the fruit flavours deepening and gamey nuances emerging.
Located just south of Burgundy, the French wine region of Beaujolais covers an impressive area of 22,000 hectares between Mâcon and Lyon. Although this wine region was famous for being associated with dull, diluted wine in the past, its reputation has since only improved, proving their worth to wine lovers all over the world with their endless variety of wines, ranging from fresh and light to refined and lush wines. 98 percent of the vineyards here are made up of the famous Gamay grapes, with the exception of a small amount of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir which are used to make white wines. Gamay grapes are known to make luscious red wines that have a light to medium body, moderate tannin, relatively low acidity and contain aromas of berries such as raspberry, tart cherry and cranberry. The region of Beaujolais is home to ten named village Crus: St Amour, Juliénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Chénas, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié (a Cru since 1988), Brouilly and Côte de Brouilly. When compared to most other Beaujolais wines, the Crus of this region are more concentrated and have much more character and can be kept for up to ten years.

Beaujolais is blessed with a temperate climate and shares its summer weather with the Mediterranean Sea due to its close proximity, but the location is also interior enough to experience cold dry weather from the Northeast. The soil of Beaujolais is an important component in defining the different styles of wines in the region. Towards the south of the town of Villefrance, the soil is made up of sandstone or clay and limestone. In the north, the soils are comprised of granite or crystalline rock on the upper slopes, and in the lower slopes they are made up of stone and clay soils.
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