Darkness and Light


No wines stimulate the emotions like those wrought from two-faced, duplicitous pinot noir. A rapscallion of a grape, pinot possesses crazy-making tendencies: it mutates freely, rots rampantly, ripens haphazardly, and delights in frustrating growers and winemakers. Not for nothing is it known as the heartbreak grape. But of course, heartbreak is a product of heightened expectation, and heightened expectation is the trouble with-and glory of-pinot noir. At its best, it embodies ethereal lightness and haunting depth.

True to its troublemaker personality, pinot noir eschews an easy growing environment. Its greatest incarnations are born of struggle, of clinging to life in chilly extremes where vines barely survive, relaying into a glass each drop of rain, gust of wind, heat wave, or hailstorm it endures. One of the great joys of wine is ferreting out next-wave pinots from the fringe: whether the extremities of Tasmania or the Okanagan’s night-cooled desert. Our 10th annual wine awards logged 17 winning pinots from around the world, like the Faiveley Bourgogne Paulée 2010. From pinot noir’s homeland, this charming bourgogne is made by a venerable house that’s recently (and boldly) changed its style, producing fruitier, fresher, rounder Burgundies.