Pinot Noir – the ultimate wine

Apr 17th
Posted by shambo  as Wine

Louis XIII De Remy Martin Cognac

Let me say this about that.

I like drinking wine.  It is an elegant endeavor steeped in history, tradition, and ceremony while producing a pleasant euphoria and creating a great platform for bonding with friends and sharing thought-provoking conversation.

My experience with wine, however, had a genesis not so aristocratic.  In the late sixties, I was dating a young hippie flower-child who had a developed an appreciation for smoking hash.  She often poured herself a glass of ‘Boone’s Farm Apple Wine’ while she packed her hash pipe because she claimed it soothed the harshness of inhaling the smoke.  On occasion, I would join her on her trip to ‘the happy place’.  However in my case, I smoked the hash to kill the taste of the ‘Boone’s Farm Apple Wine’.

Nearly half a century later, my taste in wine has blossomed into an obsession expensive enough to fund a Harvard education for the average kid.  I think I hit my peak some years ago when…    I was invited to dinner by a wealthy Chinese friend.  After dinner she asked if I would like a sip of cognac.  I knew she had great taste in wine so I happily said yes and watched while she opened a walnut case containing a $2,300 bottle of Louis XIII De Remy Martin Cognac.  It was then that I learned the true meaning of ….. “the rich are different from the rest of us” ….. when she sat an iced tea glass in front of me and filled it with the most expensive drink I have ever had.

Although there are exceptions (such as the aforementioned cognac), I have had enough experience with wine to learn that quality is not necessarily proportionate to price – a lesson that all of us ex-wine snobs eventually learn.  Once the exclusive domain of the French, excellent wines are now being produced in such unlikely places as South Africa, Chile, Australia, and yes – even South Carolina.

Anyone can order the most expensive wine from the ‘liste de vin’, but to order the ‘best’ wine, you have to know what you are doing.  This knowledge cannot be garnered from books or the classroom.  It must be done one sip at a time.  Beginning with that first bottle of ‘Boone’s Farm Apple Wine’ I estimate I have had approximately 1/4 million sips of wine in the last half century.  Do anything a quarter of a million times and you get pretty good at it.

There are hundreds of varieties of wine available to the average American consumer, and in my life-quest to find ‘the ultimate wine’  I have the happy duty to report that I have found it.

Pinot Noir


Pinot Noir is classified as a ‘red wine’, only by the uninitiated double-wide dwellers who reside in the Mississippi Delta region.  Pinot Noir is in a class by itself which defies the Joe Six-Pack classifications of ‘Red’, ‘White’, and ‘Blush’ wines.  After all, what other single wine can be served with salmon, roast beef, lamb, chicken, and duck?  Pinot Noir is full bodied and rich without being heavy.  It is high in alcohol content, yet neither acidic nor tannic.

The most descriptive adjective used to describe Pinot Noir is – ‘Delicate’.  This description fits because Pinot Noir grapes are extremely difficult to grow.  They are susceptible to every disease and insect known in viticulture.  The grapes are very sensitive to temperature change and irrigation processes.  Harvest them just a few days too early or too late, and they wouldn’t make the cut at the ‘Smuckers’ factory.  And, if you get all this just right, vintners are faced with a horrific fermentation process hindered by the presence of eighteen different amino acids.  This characteristic causes a violent fermentation process that sometimes results in the crush boiling up and out of the fermentation container, causing the entire process to spin out of control.

Assuming the wine is gently bottled, aged for three of four years, transported to your table without undue agitation or temperature excursions in transit, you get to experience the ultimate definition of  – ‘Delicate’.   A sip of  fine Pinot Noir produces an experience not unlike the gossamer light first kiss of your 14 year-old high school sweetheart.  If anything goes awry in the complex journey from vineyard to wine glass, this halcyon experience quickly degrades into the wine drinkers equivalent of being anally penetrated by an angry 800-pound Silver-back Gorilla.

So intrepid connoisseurs, begin your journey of a quarter million sips and you will arrive at the same place I have – sipping a glass of Pinot Noir.

And, that’s all I have to say about that.







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