A Moment With Pinot. Noir, That Is.
Posted on December 18, 2014
The lights dim. The smoke swirls. Somewhere a random drum beats in a syncopated rhythm, announcing Pinot Noir as she approaches….no, not “approaches”…sashays towards us. Are we moving in slow motion or is she just that sexy? Her delicate, light neck flowing into a medium body, she displays a seductive label that looks painted on; as if it were made just for her… because it was. THIS is Pinot Noir at her finest. The most coquettish of the traditional “big six” varietals, the wines that make up about 80% of all other wines- she is Goldilocks and needs to feel just right.
Fun Fact #1: Pinot Noir, though beautiful, is a “mutant” grape. By 1990, there were over 46 different variations, clones, and blends of Pinot Noir. Heard of Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Meunier? Yup. Deviants. We won’t bring that up, though. What woman wants to be called a mutant?
Heads turn to follow as she makes her way towards us. What an entrance. We are instantly transfixed.
GG: So you are Pinot Noir….
Pinot Noir: Perhaps. (Pure-haps)
A French accent enhanced by a slightly husky voice. Of course.
GG: So how are things?
Pinot Noir: Très Bien. However, I am warm…
Potential disaster. We know how particular Pinot Noir is about her temperature. She doesn’t tolerate weather extremes. From sunburn and mildew when too hot, to forming misshapen grapes when too cold. We signal for a waiter. He, in turn, begins fanning Pinot Noir as if she were the second coming of Cleopatra. And you know what? Maybe she is…
GG: Is that better?
Pinot Noir: For now.
She’s a fickle one, this Pinot Noir–
or “pine black” as the literal translation suggests. She grows in a conical form, her fruits are tight and clustered. She requires her own space. She is thin-skinned and delicate, but demands to be heard. Even her name sounds like some sort of release, pee-noh nwah…
In a nutshell, she is who we want to be when we grow up.
GG: We’ve been fans of yours for-EVER.
GG: Did you know that your first known wines date back to the first century AD? Apparently the Romans uncovered it in Gaul, which is really just an old way of discussing modern-day France.
Pinot Noir: Ah you calling me old?
Her eyes flash danger. We seek to abort the mission. May Day, may day. Grape Girls calling.
GG: Gross! NO! We are calling you Helen of Troy, but for wine.
Fun Fact #2: Pinot Noir was sanctioned by the Catholic monks as the choice varietal for the holy sacraments. This divine support resulted in Burgundian monks (monks in the Burgundy region of France) establishing vineyards devoted entirely to Pinot Noir.
Fun Fact #3: After the French revolution in 1789, vineyards were taken from the church and redistributed among local families. The common people began cultivating their own Pinot Noir and variations as well as their own independent vineyards.
GG: …and IF you have had work done, which we don’t think you have, but IF you have- It. Is. Fantastic.
And ladies and gentlemen- here’s the other thing about Pinot Noir. Because of her wine’s general easygoing nature, she is delicious with everything. Ironic that such a wine can come from such a temperamental grape.
We, the Grape Girls, want to understand why she can be so…difficult, but how to broach such a touchy subject?
GG: Why is there…why do you…. How come people think…
Pinot Noir: You want to know why I am difficult? (She pronounces it “dee-fee-coolt”)
She smirks and sits back, lighting a cigarette. We smell clove.
Pinot Noir: Eet iz not my fault. I am, ‘ow you say? Grown dat way. *she sighs* I um cold now.
With a lazy wave she dismisses the fanning waiter, now red and puffing from his efforts.
We don’t know if it’s the accent or the buzz or the smell of clove, but suddenly everything makes sense. Her thin skin is the reason for all of the issue. She is a difficult little fruit, but highly prized when grown properly. Due to her genetic makeup, she is not a high-yield grape when she is grown solely for consumption as a Pinot Noir, however, grow her with the intent to blend and voilà! Insta-crop. Now wouldn’t that make you ever so fussy?
GG: You’re right. It isn’t your fault. Everybody wants a piece of you. Practically every country has its own version of you. The list goes on. The question becomes who are you in the midst of all of the chaos?
She thinks. Exhales smoke. A perfect “O”.
Pinot Noir: I am the one that gives to those I feel are worthy. I do not grow for everyone because I do not want to. The people that come to me for their wine know what it is that I can offer, so I am pampered and revered. I can give you everything you desire. Fruit-forward if I’m feeling youthful, earthier when wiser. They come to me because I CAN be perfect and I reward them by being simply… ‘ow you say…. me.
Oui,oui Pinot Noir. She teases us for another hour as the conversation swirls and opens up. We uncover something new, living in each lush, medium-bodied moment. As we say our farewells, we thank Pinot Noir for allowing us to uncover the beauty queen of wines, the true perfect 10. She leaves us wishing that we could have one more moment…
And that’s when we know. The allure is in creating the art of longing- of making just as grand an exit, leaving your audience wanting more. She’s not a fickle grape, she is a focused grape. Like Elizabeth Taylor, she is definitely worth the trouble.
We settle in to contemplate our encounter only to realize, minds blown, that The Grape Girls just became Grape Women and that The Grape Women never settle for less than diamonds.