Brett Jackson, chief winemaker at Chilean producer Viña Valdivieso, recalls his very own “Pinot moment” and its impact on his own ambitions with this grape variety.
Brett Jackson, chief winemaker at Valdivieso
What factors in your view make a Pinot Noir great?
To achieve great Pinot is to first utilise a great vineyard, which must be impeccably managed. Vigour and fruit must be balanced so that the fruit is adequately protected from the sun, but not be overly vegetative. A cooler site is also needed to permit the development of its unique aromatic and flavour profile. Be careful not to over stress the vines, which will result in excessive astringency appearing in the fruit.
How has your own approach to getting the best from Pinot Noir changed over the years?
I am trying extremely hard to capture the unique expression each site offers me by harvesting earlier where the fruit expression is fresher and a better reflection of the vineyard. I’m fermenting cooler to retain this unique expression and not become a generic Pinot Noir. There’s also less use of new oak, so as to maintain the pureness of the vineyard.
What sort of evolution in the style and popularity of Pinot Noir are you currently seeing in Chile?
We are collectively moving towards styles where we are working to express a more complex array of fruit, flavours and textures. We’re starting to go away from the more extremely concentrated styles, which can be very one dimensional.
What is it about Pinot Noir that gives it such global appeal?
I think there is a Pinot moment for nearly everyone who drinks wine. There is that occasion when you drink a Pinot and you experience this mix of complex aromas, and flavours. The wine is supple, full-bodied and has lots of flavour, yet at the same time is crisp and refreshing. Once experienced it is never forgotten.
Is there a winemaker or wine whose expression of Pinot Noir inspires you?
This would be when I had my Pinot Noir moment, some years ago travelling in Burgundy I drank some Gevrey-Chambertin (I cannot remember today who the producer was), and was overwhelmed by the sheer complexity, elegance and uniqueness of the wine. I can only hope I may be able to one day produce a wine that so uniquely and elegantly captures the expression of its origin.
the drinks business Global Pinot Noir Masters 2013 takes place in February. Presided over by a panel of Masters of Wine and Master Sommeliers, each Pinot Noir is assessed by style and price rather than being judged by country. For more information, click here.