Pinot Noir is one of the most prized grape varieties worldwide. Still, it holds a ninth place in hectares planted. Unlike grapes with similar popularity like Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, Pinot Noir doesn’t grow everywhere; it needs unique climatic conditions to thrive.
The finicky grape is the source of some of the most respected labels on earth from the Old and New World. Still, the Burgundian examples of Pinot Noir cause the most excitement between wine lovers and collectors. Pinot Noir’s silken palate and delicate bouquet are easy to love. Here’s all you need to know about Pinot Noir.
The History of the Pinot Noir Grape Variety
Pinot Noir is an ancient variety and was probably grown first in the wild — it might be amongst the first domesticated wild grapevines in history. Pinot Noir gained prominence during the Middle Ages when Cistercian monks tended Burgundy’s vineyards under the rule of the Pinot-loving dukes of Burgundy.
Burgundian wine became a coveted commodity around Europe, with Pinot Noir behind its success. The vineyards were classified, giving birth to the famous Premier and Grand Crus.
Pinot Noir clippings from the finest vineyards in Burgundy found their way to every corner of the earth. And although the grape needs specific growing conditions, it found a new home in select, cold-climate vineyards of the New World.
The grape is prone to mutation, which led to the spontaneous creation of Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris. The French government recognises over 50 Pinot Noir clones as authentic Pinot Noir. The Burgundian red grape has a notable offspring as well, including the ubiquitous Chardonnay and the generous Gamay.
Pinot Noir is a synonym with Burgundy, where the grape shares the throne with the equally cherished Chardonnay. Although the world’s most expensive and coveted Pinot examples come from the French region, Burgundy produces Pinot in all quality levels at all price points, and the quality is overall high.
Pommard, Beaune and Gevrey-Chambertin are only a few appellations associated with fine Pinot Noir, but the red grape also shines in Champagne, particularly in Blanc de Noir examples. One can also find extraordinary Pinot Noir in Sancerre, in the Loire Valley. It is the most important red grape in Alsace, and you can find a few good values in Languedoc-Roussillon.
Northern Italy is also an excellent source for Pinot Noir, where it’s called Pinot Nero, and it’s the most planted red grape in Germany, where it’s called Spätburgunder. The New World also opened its doors for the prestigious Burgundian grape, and it thrives in Coastal California, Oregon and New York in the United States. The grape is also comfortable in Coastal Chile, high-altitude vineyards in Argentina, and cold regions in Australia and New Zealand.
Although every winemaker dreams of making Pinot Noir wine, only a few lucky wine regions have the right conditions to grow the noble varietal.
Wine Styles & Tasting Notes
Pinot Noir is known for displaying a pale colour and can be translucent. Still, this doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an immense bouquet of complex scents, often reminiscent of cherries, damp earth, oak spices and vanilla.
Pinot Noir often has little to no noticeable tannins and sharp acidity. It will show a ripe fruit aroma from warm regions and vintages and tart fruit when sourced from colder vineyards and growing seasons.
Pinot Noir is always straightforward but rewarding. It is often more complex than its appearance suggests, so it’s often a pleasant surprise — it never disappoints. Despite being low in tannins, Pinot has excellent age-worthiness, and the best examples evolve in the cellar for many years.
Light Pinot Noir is a fantastic pairing for charcuterie, dry-cured meat, patés and terrines. If the wine is riper and more fruit-forward, it’s fantastic with duck, roasted quail, char siu pork and sweet & savoury stir-fries.
Pinot Noir is one of the few red wines that can be paired with oily fish, like mackerel, salmon and tuna. When concentrated and more sophisticated, it can match the flavour of mushroom-based dishes and roasted white meat. Pinot Noir’s affinity with truffles is also astounding.
From feathered game to dishes of Asian inspiration, Pinot Noir has one of the broadest food pairing ranges in the French wine repertoire. Enjoy a bottle of Pinot from Hourlier Wines Selection and fall in love with the famed grape!.