At Helen & Joey Estate, we love Pinot noir.
We have around 16 hectares planted and spend a lot of time in the vineyard and winery ensuring this capricious little grape performs well. Widely regarded as one of the most difficult grape varieties to work with, Pinot noir has had a long history of giving both utter joy and absolute frustration to winemakers and consumers alike.
Pinot noir is a very old grape variety with some evidence that it existed in Burgundy in the 1st century AD.
Due to its old genetic material, Pinot noir has a habit of mutating to produce new varieties such as Pinot blanc and Pinot Gris, as well as undergoing smaller genetic degenerations to produce a huge number of clones.
In France, there are 50 recognised clones of Pinot noir. Globally, there are 60,000 hectares of Pinot noir planted with 25,000 of these in France (equally split between Burgundy and Champagne). In Australia, we have around 4,500 hectares planted, mostly in cooler areas.
Pinot noir is an early budding variety which means it is susceptible to spring frosts which can occur in the cooler winemaking regions of the world. It prefers a limestone soil and, according to the Burgundians, is one of the most site-specific varieties in the world. In fact, many Burgundians argue that the grape variety is merely a vehicle to express the specific terroirs in Burgundy!
As a wine, Pinot noir is generally lower in tannin than most red grape varieties and the tannins are often described as silky. It is usually light to medium bodied and has red berry fruit characteristics such as strawberry, raspberry and cherry as well as some earthy spice such as liquorice. As it ages, Pinot noir takes on forest floor aromas and can also have game and barnyard flavours. Most Pinot noirs are designed to be drunk young or in the medium term. However, a few wines are able to age for decades to produce seductive, silky wines.
At Helen & Joey Estate, our 16 hectares of Pinot noir are spread over a number of blocks. Our yellow/grey loam soils, high in iron, are perfect for growing premium quality grapes as they offer the right balance between nutrition and drainage. Helen & Joey Estate are currently producing two Pinot’s, our mid-range Layla and our premium Alena.