With Friday 18 August being National Pinot Noir Day, we take pleasure in focusing on this fascinating cultivar, tracing its history since the Roman era.
Did you know? Pinot Noir is one of the most ancient cultivars with the earliest mention recorded in 1375, but with evidence of its existence stretching back as far as the Roman era, circa 100 AD. Over time mutations have resulted in a large number of clones with distinctly varied attributes. This renders clonal selection a critical decision, as each clone has characteristics making it more or less suitable for the chosen terroir.
Two characteristics found to varying degrees in all Pinot Noir clones are thin skinned berries and small berry and bunch sizes. The smaller berries and bunches result in a lower yield, and while the potential for quality Pinot Noir generally increases at lower yields so does the cost of producing each bottle. This makes Pinot Noir a labour of love for many winemakers. The thin skins make the fruit susceptible to external influences – succumbing to mildew and rot in humid and wet conditions, while threatened by sunburn in extreme heat. A cooler climate with plenty of sunlight and good drainage combined with judicious clonal selections are key to the production of quality Pinot Noir. At Creation we’re blessed with all these conditions.
Pinot Noir is an early ripening grape and the cooler climate on the Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge results in ideal slow, even ripening. Since the thin skins are easily bruised during harvest, the Creation team adheres to hand-picking and a draconian selection process which precludes the need for sorting tables and additional handling. With the cellar situated right in the centre of the vineyards, the grapes enter the cellar just minutes after being picked.
What makes Pinot Noir even more precious is the fact that unlike other red wines, it cannot be corrected. When making a Merlot for instance, it is considered acceptable to blend in a small Cabernet Sauvignon component to add complexity or perhaps tannin. Pinot Noir however, is so delicate as to exclude the possibility of blending – rather than enhancing the wine it would destroy it.
With better grafting material available and as more and healthy vineyards on suitable sites reach maturity, South African Pinot Noir has been rising in stature, both locally and internationally. An additional reason for the increased demand has been the time and effort many local winemakers afford to the production of their Pinot.
Pinot Noir is regarded as one of the world’s most transparent and expressive cultivars. The indelible stamp of origin and the subtle hand of the winemaker can be read in a good Pinot Noir and this provenance and varietal character are becoming increasingly important to the wine lover.
“Pinot Noir has taken off around the world as a sought-after food pairing wine,” says Creation pairing fundi, Carolyn Martin. “If Chardonnay is the Queen of White Cultivars, Pinot Noir is the Prince of Reds,” she continues. “It is undoubtedly one of the most versatile and sought-after food wines – light enough for salmon and complex enough for richer pairings such as duck. Everyone should have a case or two in their home cellar.” Why does it pair so well with food? “The Creation Pinot Noir has natural acidity, a beautiful fruit profile, a gentle tannin structure and judicious oak.”
Click here to see what Andreas Larsson, Best Sommelier in the world take is on the Creation Reserve Pinot noir 2015.
When visiting Creation don’t miss out on the sensational Kiss and Tell Wine and Food Pairing. It celebrates the estate’s flagship cultivars, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, offering taste combinations made in heaven! The Creation (Estate) Pinot Noir is paired with Strawberry and Raspberry Soup, Tarragon and Za’atar Biscuit and a mix of Beetroot Shoots; the Creation Reserve Pinot Noir complements Duck Breast with Beetroot and Raspberry Mousse, Goat’s-Milk Cheese, Pomegranate and Beetroot Powder and Dried Raspberries; The Art of Creation Pinot Noir beautifully enhances the Springbok Loin, Braised Leek, King Oyster Mushroom, Cherry Jus and Sweet Violets. What a feast! Click here for the recipe of the scrumptious Springbok Loin dish.
Each Pinot Noir in the Creation range brims with attitude, style and that indefinable secret ingredient that Pinot aficionados find so irresistible. Since the first Creation Pinot release in 2010, many prestigious accolades and favourable reviews have borne testimony to the quality of the wines. Among these are the following:
Neal Martin – renowned UK wine critic and author, lead taster of Bordeaux, Burgundy and South African wines for Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate:
The 2015 The Art of Pinot Noir is a barrel selection of the Reserve Pinot Noir. It has a gutsy, quite intense bouquet with crushed strawberry, raspberry and cranberry fruit that blossoms in the glass. The palate neatly embraces the 40% whole bunch fruit, very structured and you could say, Morey-like in style. Grippy and more assertive with darker fruit than its Hemel-en-Aarde peers, there is a pleasant piquancy on the finish.
Giuseppe Lauria – editor-in-chief of the leading German wine publication, WEINWISSER:
I’m happy to tell you that some of your wines are amongst the best I tasted in South Africa.
(18.5/20 for the 2014 Creation The Art of Pinot Noir)
Mo Therese – Sommelier Café 99 and Unity Bar, Durban:
Seeing JC and Carolyn in their natural habitat: the olives … the Pebbles Project … one experienced a reality of not just an idea tasted at a trade show. One discovered just how exceptional and consistent their passion is and that goes into everything from planting virus-free vineyards to the consideration that goes into the selection of their barrels. The Kiss & Tell tasting is a brave, wonderful example of Creation’s innovation and it is stunning to taste these three Chardonnays and Pinot Noir with pairings side by side.