The best Pinot wines are a startling ruby red. The bouquet of Pinot Noir wines displays an incomparable finesse, dominated by blackcurrant and raspberry, sometimes with a touch of smoke; Cherry, Morello cherry to be precise, is also typical of this variety. Like all the great varieties It loves oak aging, which often adds to its complexity.
Pinot wines are passionate, generous, and bursting with bouquet, at once delicate and solid.
Outside Burgundy, Pinot Noir can be found in Alsace, where it is one of the few red varieties grown, and in certain vineyards in the centre of France. Pinot Noir is also well established in Germany, in the Geneva, Switzerland area, and in Burgenland, Austria. It gives spectacular results in California and Oregon, USA, and is currently developing well in New Zealand.
So if you knew nothing of Pinot Noir (save for the fact it was popularized by the film Sideways) in that short segment you’ve learned a great deal. Of key importance, at least as far as Le Nez du Vin is concerned, you’ve learned the characteristic aromas of Pinot Noir. While Pinot Noir from New Zealand, California, and Burgundy do have variations, these basic aroma characteristics will remain the same.
Let’s assume, for now, you don’t have the opportunity to smell much fresh fruit, and you can’t really recall the scent of raspberry. Maybe you’re not even sure what blackcurrant is or what it smells like, but you know you want to improve your wine recognition and vocabulary. So you pick up the illustrated card key (presented by family, such as “fruity,” “floral,” “vegetal,” “animal,” and “roasted). You look under “fruity” until you find the aromas that match Pinot Noir, namely Raspberry (card 13) and Blackcurrant (card 15).
You pull these cards from the deck and read more about them. Additional information about these aromas is also available in the back of the book. Then open the vials and smell them. Try contrasting the blackcurrant with redcurrant and note the differences. Then try contrasting the vials containing the blackcurrant aroma with that of strawberry, raspberry, and other fruits.
Many educators use Le Nez du Vin in the classroom to help students map what they smell in the glass to specific fruits or other aromas so they can better describe the wines to customers or others. Roddy Kirshenman, general manager of Oceanaire Seafood Room in Indianapolis, first learned about Le Nez du Vin when taking a wine class led by a sommelier a few years back. “We would smell the aromas, try to identify them, and discuss them among ourselves. I found it so helpful I plan to implement this training with my own staff. It’s important for the servers to have the ability to communicate wine accurately to our customers.”