You might have tried a glass before. Maybe you even have a bottle tucked away in a pantry or kitchen cabinet. If so, then this Friday is the day to dust it off, because August 18 is International Pinot Noir Day, and Argentina is as good a country as any to celebrate the occasion.
True to its name, pinot noir is derived from a black grape whose color is so deep that it nearly resembles a blueberry. Although the wine originated in the Burgundy region of France, it’s cultivated all over the world, from the Pacific Northwest of the United States to Walker Bay in South Africa to the Yarra Valley in Australia. Pinot noir is produced across Argentina, but most notably in Mendoza and Patagonia, whose cool climates are ideal for the temperamental fruit.
“The best bottles come from Burgundy,” says Martín Andrés Narrizano, who runs the online wine club, Indagando Vinos. “But there are very good pinot noirs in the south of Argentina, where the altitudes are much higher.”
While every pinot noir is distinct, the strain is generally drier and more acidic, with lower levels of sugar than other reds because it’s fermented over a longer period of time. The wine also has a much lighter tint than one might expect owing to the delicacy of the grape’s skin. (In Alexander Payne’s 2004 dramedy Sideways, Miles, played by Paul Giamatti, offers a moving soliloquy to the fruit’s beauty and fragility.)
“Pinot noir is very distinct from other red wines,” explains Freddy Morales, a sommelier at the Aurelia Cantina Mexicana in Palermo. “It comes from a very delicate grape, so the wine is more elegant and refined.”
“The pinot noirs from Patagonia have the scent of certain Jamaican flowers,” Morales continues. “You can really detect the notes of dried hibiscus. By contrast, the pinot noirs from Mendoza are much fruitier and easier to drink, and you can combine them with a lot more foods.”
How to enjoy a pinot fino on the cheap
As with any wine, you get what you pay for. Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a pinot noir on a tight budget — a reality that Argentines are facing more and more as the value of the peso continues to plummet.
“The difference isn’t so much in quality. All pinot noirs are good,” says Andrés Narrizano. “It’s the experience that’s distinct. More economical wines have a fruitier bouquet, while the expensive ones taste more of earth, mushrooms, and truffles.”
For his part, Morales recommends La Poderosa and the Saurus Reserve pinot noirs of the Schroeder family bodega, which cost approximately ARS$10,000 and $13,000, respectively.
If you’re looking for something more affordable, you’re in luck. Beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday, the Frappe wine store will be welcoming its customers with a complimentary glass of Fin del Mundo Pinot Noir Single Vineyard at each of its 19 outlets in Buenos Aires and greater Buenos Aires. The chain will also be offering a 30% discount on all of its pinot noirs, which include Bodega Sin Reglas’ Mil Demonios Pinot Noir (~AR$7000) and Bodega Colosso Wines’ Indomable Pinot Noir Chardonnay de Colosso Wines (~AR$5600).
Whatever your price range, there’s sure to be a pinot noir for you. So raise a glass. It’s as good an opportunity as any to stop and smell the flowers (and fruits and spices).