Pinot Noir slips under the radar of many wine drinkers. That’s probably because it’s not a major feature of the sub-£10 market, which is mainly because it’s a notoriously tricky grape to grow successfully.
Times are changing though, as the likes of Chile, and plucky Romania, have shown that they can produce a credible PN at a more budget-friendly cost. There are signs too that the PN heavyweights, France and New Zealand, have spotted the trend and don’t want to miss out.
In case you’ve never tried a PN, one of the first things you notice in comparison to most other red wines is the transparency. The grapes have a very thin skin, which means that you can’t get so much colour out of them, or much tannin either for that matter (this is the stuff in red wine, and tea, that dries out your gums).
PN wines are appreciated principally for their flavours. Usually you’ll get red fruits, which can taste cooked or even jammy if the grapes were grown at the top end of their tolerated temperature range. Some PNs, usually those from the cooler regions, can display some heady, and for some people, addictive, savoury notes. The names put against these include gamey, mushroomey and even ‘forest floor’.
With only modest expectations, I took a punt on this oddly named example from the South of France. Normally priced at £6 something, but reduced to £5, this is a blatant attempt to compete with the keenly priced stuff from the New World. But it failed spectacularly.
Working my way through a small glass, I became increasingly conscious of, and troubled by, aggressive tannins. These don’t just tickle your gums, oh no. They mercilessly strip them of all moisture, and then sit there, still thirsty, looking for more.
I don’t know what the producer has done to make a wine like this from PN grapes (although I have theories). Whatever it is, it’s wrong. There isn’t even any length on the finish; as soon as you swallow, the flavours disappear, but those tannins…
Asda also sell Bradshaw PN, made in Romania. Usually priced at £6, but sometimes discounted to £4, I tried it a short while before starting this blog, and it’s much better than this Kiwi Cuvee. Simple, but honest, agreeable, and easily recognisable as a PN too. Also, the popular Cono Sur PN is only £5 at Asda. So why have they even bothered putting the Kiwi Cuvee on the shelf?