Pinot Noir

Grown and enjoyed all over the world but thrives in cooler climates.

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History of the Pinot Noir grape

Grape varieties were historically given straightforward literal names. The word Pinot in Pinot Noir refers to the pine cone shape bunches that grow on Pinot Noir vines. The word noir is French for black, therefore Pinot Noir literally means black pine cone shaped. Cistercian monks in Burgundy were the first to start growing Pinot Noir vines and dedicated a lot of work and time to creating wines of high quality. Duke Philip in 1395 ordered that Pinot Noir should be the only variety allowed to grow in the region and that’s how Pinot Noir gained the title, 'King of Grapes' in Burgundy.

Key Wine Information

Location

The Pinot Noir grape is grown all over the globe, but is most popularly grown in France. Famous French growing regions include Burgundy, Champagne, Alsace, and The Loire. Outside these regions, quality Pinot Noir wines are successfully produced in Germany, Austria and Eastern Europe but also in the USA, Argentina and New Zealand.

Grapes

Pinot Noir is one of the oldest varieties currently planted and is well known for being difficult to grow as it’s very susceptible to changes in climate, the quality of soil, and pests. Pinot Noir grapes grow in very tight bunches and are thin-skinned and low in phenolic compounds making wines that are lightly coloured, light to medium bodied and low in tannins.

Wine

When young, Pinot Noir wines have flavours of strawberries, raspberries and cherries, but as they age they develop vegetable flavours, sometimes described as 'barnyard aromas' that contribute to its complexity. A range of bouquets, flavours and textures can be achieved with this grape which often confuses tasters. Traditional Burgundian wines show more savoury and barnyard notes, whereas Pinot Noir from the 'New World' tend to produce wines that are sometimes closer to Syrah or Malbec in character which are more fruit forward and alcoholic.

Styles of Pinot Noir wine

There is no closer connection between terroir, grape and wine produced than with Pinot Noir. They are capable of achieving the world’s best wines but also the worst. This is a grape that best expresses the soil and climate of its origin. Due to this fact the terms Premier Cru and Grand Cru were created as they denote the places that have the best growing conditions.

Since it’s a very thin-skinned grape it can also be used to produce white wines called Vin Gris as well as sparkling wine such as Champagne and rosé in a style that is similar to Beaujolais Nouveau.

Good wines made of Pinot Noir have an excellent capability for aging.

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