Thursday 28 November 2019

Something not quite riot...

Ah, pinot noir. The wine described with adjectives such as “elegant”, “delicate” and “graceful”. The “thin-skinned, temperamental” grape loved by Miles in the movie Sideways. The grape of red Burgundy. And who was the pretentious fellow who once described a fine example of a Burgundy as tasting “like choral evensong”? Oh, that was me.

So where does “ugliness” fit into this? Here, I’m afraid; a Pinot Noir with an ugly name, an ugly label; and, if the Oxford definition of “ugly” as “unpleasing or repulsive to sight or hearing” can be extended to the other senses, then an ugly flavour too.

There are, I suppose, wines which might conceivably have some kind of association with a riot. A bruiser of a shiraz, perhaps, up for a fight. Something with a high enough alcohol content to suffice for comrade Molotov. Or one of those nasty acidic wines whose very fumes have the room-clearing potential of tear gas.

None of these qualities would seem particularly strong selling points. A Shiraz Cosh, anyone? Burnt-out Bordeaux? Cabernet Sauvignon ‘CS’ Gas? And… a Pinot Riot?

Well. There are rowdy, aggressive Pinot Noir drinkers – like the “roomful of buzzed alpha males” which Jay McInerney wrote about. But they bray and brag about the cost of the wines they drink, and are unlikely to trouble the supermarket shelves for this £7 trifle. And as McInerney also writes, “The new generation of Pinotphiles favour adjectives like “restraint” and “delicacy”.

So the very name, Pinot Riot, is something of an oxymoron. Pinot Noir is simply not a loud, boisterous wine.

And the label description contains a further contradiction in terms. This wine supposedly offers “an abundance of intense yet delicate flavours”. It makes you wonder about their understanding of the terms “intense” and “delicate”. Perhaps they like colours which are black yet white.

Nothing restrained or delicate about their label, either. A hideous melange, reminiscent only of a particularly ugly BBC2 ident. Are they dinosaurs? Monsters? Eyeballs in snot? Would anyone want this on their table? Would anyone want this in their house?

But Sediment took it in, and drank it, so that you wouldn’t have to. A rubbery bouquet heralds an astringent, bitter flavour – but thin, weedy, a shallow, diluted experience. Not, by any measure, a riot of flavours. And certainly not a soaring choral evensong; more a muted cough. By halfway through the first glass there is little but alcohol left; no bouquet, no fruit, no point. And, as they themselves state on their label, no future.

Of course the know-it-alls will say that you can’t possibly produce a good Pinot Noir for £7 a bottle. And they are probably right. But think, on the other hand, of the know-nothings. For they may buy and drink this, and believe that they have tasted Pinot Noir. Once, and probably never again.

If the apocalypse comes, and people are stripping the shops of essentials, I don’t think they’ll be too picky between cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir. They certainly won’t be rioting to get their hands on this. Only, perhaps, to get their money back.



  1. Why riot? Could someone have tried to find an anagram and then decided that nobody would notice if it was one letter wrong?

  2. Having myself matured in the late 70s, I'm tempted to hear the refrain '... pinot riot, a riot of my own'. I'm also tempted to think that if this is what you want, why not just stick to the brothers Gallo? Actually, just read a review on Sainsbury's website which said it was 'adorably gluggable'. So why not just stick to etc...

    1. As far as "stick" is concerned, my only role with this wine is to give it some.

  3. This stuff is awful, there really isn't anything else to say except the only true thing written on the bottle are the words 'no future' your £7 and perhaps add a couple more pounds and get a bottle of pinot noir you can trust.

  4. Well I like it. But if this means I won’t have to sit in the same room as you pretentious tossers, that’s a Win Win.


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