Pinot’s price tag
Question from Hannah: I really love Pinot Noir, it’s my favourite tipple when it comes to wine! But why oh why does it have to be so expensive? It seems much more expensive than other red wine varieties. Could you please explain why?
In a nut shell – It’s true, Pinot Noir is one of the most expensive wine varieties because it’s a pain in the arse to grow and it’s not going to get cheaper any time soon.
In a clam shell – Pinot Noir is such a princess – if the conditions aren’t perfect it’ll crack the poos and throw the towel in. It only likes cool consistent climates which allow the grapes to ripen slowly. It loves a chilly night but a nice warm sunny afternoon (don’t we all?). It’s so damn fussy that any variable (too much rain, frost or heat) will ruin it. And the grape itself has very thin skin which adds to its sensitive nature including its susceptibility to diseases.
The actual bunch of grapes is rather small meaning Pinot Noir produces smaller quantities of wine than Shiraz for example. The bunches are also rather tightly packed meaning mold can grow between the grapes and cause diseases. Not to mention Pinot Noir requires a lot more attention and labour than most other grapes. And because it’s such a delicate grape it’s generally hand-picked from the vine and manually sorted to make sure each grape is perfect. That’s an expensive exercise!
Pinot Noir grapes need to be picked at just the right time too. If they’re picked too early (or the climate is too cold) the grapes won’t ripen and you’ll end up with wet leaves and cabbage and if they’re picked too late (or the climate is too hot) the delicate flavours will be lost and you’ll end up with a jammy mess.
Lastly, Pinot Noir is usually aged in French oak barrels which adds toast and vanilla flavours. These barrels are super expensive and only last a few vintages before they lose all their flavour.
It’s a sad story, the more you pay the better the drop but it’s worth the investment (I think so anyway)! Finding a perfect Pinot Noir that has just the right balance of red fruit flavours like strawberries, raspberries and cherries and a little mushroom/meat can fill you with as much joy as the birth of your first born (I would assume).
If you’re looking for the perfect drop stick to Pinots from Central Otago and Martinborough in New Zealand or Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula in Australia. And if you feel like a splurge go with a red Burgundy from Gevrey-Chambertin, Nuits-Saint-Georges, Beaune and Pommard in France.