Australian distillery Bass & Flinders is attempting to harness the capricious character of the Pinot Noir grape in its new Heartbreak Gin.
Developed by Holly Klintworth, Bass & Flinders’ head distiller and managing director, and Dan Calvert, production manager and former winemaker, the gin is designed to be ‘food-focused’ and to showcase the qualities lent by the grapes.
In some circles Pinot Noir has been nicknamed the ‘heartbreak’ grape – so called for the trouble that this fickle, delicate fruit can cause winemakers, and the passionate dedication it can inspire in them.
“Pinot [Noir] is climatically grown best on the fringe of where quality grape growing should be possible. Growers face constant uphill battles every season grappling with too much sun, not enough heat, forever racing the change of seasons for phenolic and sugar ripeness before the leaves fall off, or worse, all is lost to bunch rot,” said Calvert.
“Finesse and grace are its strengths, leaving zero tolerance for mistakes, allowing them to be laid bare for all to see. Examining a glass of Pinot is like examining the region, the terroir, the grower and the maker all at once.”
To make Heartbreak Gin, the distillery fortified its own naturally fermented Pinot Noir with juniper spirit. A combination of classic and native Australian botanicals was selected for distillation to enhance the character of the grapes.
According to the Bass & Flinders team, Heartbreak Gin (38% ABV) is best served with dishes that would traditionally match a Pinot Noir, such as lamb or duck.
The distillery in Dromana, Victoria uses a Shiraz grape-based spirit for its gins and one made with Chardonnay for its brandy. Previous releases include Angry Ant Gin, made with ant pheromones, and a Cuvée blend of Cognac and brandy developed with French Cognac house Normandin-Mercier.