Pinot Noir, the world’s most popular, bright ruby-coloured wine, loved for its red berry fruits, vanilla, and warm oak aromas, is celebrated every year on August 18th. Celebrating Pinot Noir Day gives us the opportunity to broaden our palate and indulge in our favourite variety of red wine from one of the world’s best terroirs: Marlborough, New Zealand.
Until the 1970s, the conventional wisdom held that the South Island was too cold to grow grapes, but Brancott Estate’s founder, Frank Yukich went against the grain and the first plantings of the variety in Marlborough took place as far back as 1973. This decision proved to be an inspired one, setting the scene for a global phenomenon unprecedented in the wine world, with the release in 1979 of the first Marlborough Pinot Noir.
Brancott Estate Pinot Noir is a regional blend capturing the essence of Marlborough and highlighting the personality of the three sub-regions (Awatere valley, Wairau valley, and southern valleys). After harvesting, the Pinot Noir grapes are crushed into temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks; fermented with daily tasting and irrigated with juice pump-overs to extract colour and flavour. After pressing, the wine is matured on a selection of French oak with malolactic fermentation to soften the acidity. The components are then blended to achieve a harmonious and fruit-driven wine that is bursting with flavour.
Over the years, I have travelled to various wineries and wine regions in Australia and New Zealand to meet the grape growers and winemakers, and to get a deep understanding of the grapes, the vineyards, the winemaking processes, the wines and the brands. It was in 2018, that I first experienced the Brancott Estate Pinot Noir, at the Brancott Estate winery itself, in Marlborough, New Zealand. It was at a special tasting hosted by Global Winemaker Patrick Materman. Getting to know the Marlborough terroir while sipping on the wine was a surreal experience. I specifically love the balance between the fruit-forwardness and the spicy undertones of this light, elegant wine. This wine presents aromas of warm spicy oak, blackberries and truffles. Lively plum, cherry, and raspberry notes are balanced by a savoury core with hints of nutmeg. This is also perfect with Indian cuisine where moderate alcohol, and silky tannins don’t enhance the heat or spiciness of the dishes. It is ideal to pair Pinot Noir with duck dishes, creamy cheeses like Brie, barbequed meats with a hint of smoke, and mushroom or green herb-based pasta dishes.
Pinot Noir has always been one of my favourite picks when it comes to red grape varieties; simply because of its elegance. It’s uniquely complex and delicate at the same time, and never really overpowers your palate. Two Indian dishes that I relish with Pinot Noir are Tandoori Garlic Chicken Tikka and ‘Matar’ Mushroom with crispy ‘Parantha’!
Marlborough is the largest of New Zealand’s 11 wine regions and accounts for over 50 percent of the annual Pinot Noir harvest. Brancott Estate has estate vineyards in all three sub-regions enabling a wide blending options and consistency, vintage to vintage.
(A wine enthusiast, educator, and sommelier, Abhinav Dewan serves as the Brand Ambassador for wines at Pernod Ricard India. Born and brought up in New Delhi, Abhinav spent two years in Adelaide, the wine capital of Australia for his Master’s degree in Wine Business before joining Pernod Ricard Winemakers in Sydney in January 2018. Prior to moving back to Delhi in December 2019, Abhinav hosted wine tastings and dinners in over nine countries and now is working towards building a vibrant wine culture in India. He is a WSET Level 3 in Wines and an Introductory Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers. He’s also worked a wine vintage with Jacob’s Creek and St. Hugo Wines, 2018 in Barossa, South Australia)
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