Pinot Noir - the grape known and loved by wine drinkers everywhere. It is the 10th most grown wine grape in the world and it's been around for centuries, with evidence dating back to Roman times.
The Many Grapes of Pinot Noir
Did you know? Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris are actually color mutations of Pinot Noir. DNA analysis reveals all 3 to be genetically identical. What's more, because of its genetic instability, there are thousands of clones of Pinot Noir.
Pinot Noir is also closely related to Chardonnay (a cross between Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc), which is why they're commonly grown in the same regions.
The Many Places of Pinot Noir
Perhaps one of the reasons Pinot Noir is so popular all over the world is because the grape tends to express the aromas from the the region it's grown in - Pinot Noir is the embodiment of terroir.
France - Most known wines come from Burgundy, though Pinot Noir can be found in several regions of France. When selecting a bottle from France, its character is usually more earthy and floral with flavors of black currant and mushroom. Some examples (like the sub-region Pommard) can be very strong and intense versions of Pinot, with stronger tannins and notes of cocoa.
The US - Oregon - Pinot Noir is by far Oregon's most important grape. Oregon Pinots are comparable to Burgundy's style. More tart than a California Pinot, Oregon showcases flavors of bing cherry, truffle mushroom, and sometimes dandelion stem. A beautifully rustic and earthy expression of Pinot Noir.
California - Highest volume of growth outside of France, California Pinot Noirs are usually much more lush and fruit-forward than other examples. Notes of cherry, hibiscus, and vanilla spice are the standard.
Germany - Known here as Spätburgunder, 65% of vines in Germany are dedicated to Pinot Noir. Germany is the 3rd largest Pinot Noir-producing country in the world. Undoubtedly a cool climate pinot noir, flavors of cranberry, pomegranate, and pronounced notes of minerality can be found in these wines.
Pinot Noir can also be commonly found in New Zealand, Italy, and Australia.
A Sparkling Personality: The Many Expressions of Pinot Noir
As a standard, Pinot Noir can be expected to display flavors of raspberry, hibiscus, cherry, mushroom, vanilla, with color usually a pale ruby due to the thin skins of the grape - tannin levels are usually lower because of this. However, aged Pinot Noir develops rich earthy tones of truffle, rich potting soil, and herbs.
Pinot Noir can be made into white wine, rosé, and is a main grape used for sparkling wine. One of only 3 grapes permitted to be made into Champagne, Pinot Noir provides body to the mix, as well as depth of flavor; if you've ever detected notes of strawberry and raspberry in your bubbly, you have Pinot to thank for that.
We hope you've enjoyed this dive into the world of Pinot Noir. With its diversity of flavors, origins, and mutations, you'll be sure to find an expression that makes your palate sing. Cheers!