Friday Tasting: Why I like drinking F***ing Pinot.

Do you think that light red wine is the drink of the sophisti-cat? Of the refined drinker? Possibly the answer is yes. Or at least it was yes for a couple of years. And it all started in a movie…

It was Sideways who started it all. Set in California in the summer of 2004, two guys take a wine road-trip up to Santa Barbara on a Stag-do week. One of the friends is wine crazed, depressive Miles, the other,  life-loving laddish stag Jack. Halfway through, after snagging a double date, Miles freaks out, and gives a stroke of grace to the heavy reds of California.

“And if they want to drink Merlot, we’re drinking Merlot” says Jack outside the restaurant.

“No, if anyone orders Merlot I’m leaving. I am NOT DRINKING ANY FUCKING MERLOT.” replies Miles as he shakes his vessel of Xanax.

Little did the writers know, that this and another poignant speech later in the movie where Miles describes the delicate and vulnerable Pinot Noir vine (thinly disguised as an analogy of his character),would spin what was to be known as “The Sideways-effect”. Even the University of Davies, the most important wine research centre of the US spent some time analysing it. SO it has to be true.

The totally wine snobbish outrage on everything but Pinot Noir made this grape varietal soar in all ways. Winemakers started actually re-grafting their plantations of Merlot or Cabernet to Pinot. And sales were skyrocketing for quite a while. Then, after a while all fashions die. And everyone began drinking fuller style reds again, and Pinot went back to it’s modest position.

Pinot Noir was perfected by the monks of Burgundy for centuries until – after generations of stict clonal selection – it became as we know it today. It’s thin-skinned, just as Miles said, aromatic, and refined. It can also be fruit driven, thin, and 2 dimensional, dependant completely to the grower and the climate. Pinot Noir famously yields only small volumes, so it often isn’t found under £15.  So is it worthy of it’s accolades, however fictional? On Borough Market we are going to open a bottle from the Loire Valley, from the winery of Poiron Dabin.

Come by and make up your own mind.

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