In traditional wine circles, duck and pinot was considered a classic, unassailable pairing. Circa 2018, pinot and pizza is the Kim and Kanye of food-and-wine-matching.
While pinot noir and good – or even sort-of-good – pizza are perfectly fine on their own, the juicy red fruit of the former and the cheese and tomato one-two of the latter bring out the very best in each other.
In April, Cottesloe pizzeria Canteen Pizza launches its weekly Pizza & Pinot nights to celebrate this happy union. Every Monday, guests will get enjoy 25 percent off any bottle of pinot noir tucked away in the restaurant's wine racks. If buying and drinking habits of customers are anything to go by, restaurant manager Mark Rutter and his team can expect to move plenty of lo-fi, minimal intervention - see also: "natural" - wines.
“It reinforces that putting sustainable winemaking practices first is of the utmost importance,” says Rutter. “I have never sold as many fun and interesting wines than I have at Canteen.”
Although pinot noir is available in a diverse range of expressions, the genre’s most pizza-friendly expressions share similar DNA.
“Whatever wine you serve with pizza has to have good structure, acid and tenacity,” says Rutter. “Regions such as Mornington [Peninsula] in Victoria and Coal River in Tasmania that are slightly cooler with richer, more complex soil profiles are what I’m thirsty for at the moment.”
These are five of the wines Rutter might open when the occasion calls for pizza.
Warramate Pinot Noir 2017
Sarah Crowe has been at the helm of Yarra Yering for the past five years and was named Winemaker of the Year by [influential Australian wine authority] James Halliday in 2017. Year after year, Warramate – Yarra Yering’s little side project, – produces one of my favourite affordable pinots. This smacks of young blueberries and cherries with a hint of candy.
Lethbridge ‘Menage a Noir’ 2016
I feel we don’t see enough pinot out of Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula [in Victoria]. This is a perfect little example of the region’s wines. Dense ruby in the glass with crunchy tannin, bruised berries and a pretty hint of stalkiness that reins it all in.
Akitu A2 Pinot Noir 2015
Central Otago is one of my favourite pinot regions. The juice these guys produce comes from one of the highest altitude vineyards in the valley and is vibrant, rich yet restrained with lots of fresh cherries, subtle herb and savoury elements.
The Wanderer Upper Yarra Pinot Noir 2015
Andrew Marks, the man that moonlights as a distiller at Melbourne Gin Company, does it again. A smack of bright cherry, cranberry and dried spice is complemented with fresh forest floor. This fresh, lively number features whole bunch, some wild ferment funk [both winemaking techniques used to build complexity in wines, particularly in pinot noirs] and a whole lot of love.
Tolpuddle Pinot Noir 2016
Not all pinot noir is light and elegant, this Tasmanian-produced wine a case in point. Look for firm tannins with voluptuous cherry and berry flavours, a hint of smoked allspice. A pinot that just goes on and on and on.
Canteen Pizza hosts Pizza & Pinot every Monday night starting April 2.