Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir Wine

Pinot Noir originated in Burgundy but is now grown all over the world including regions such as Western Germany, Northern Italy, South Africa, Chile, Australia, Oregon, California and New Zealand. Pinot Noir is revered for its fragrant aroma of cherry and strawberry and hints of forest floor. The aroma can range from fresh red cherries to stewed black cherries. Warmer harvests tend to mimic the Syrah flavor spectrum with notes of violets and leather.
How Did Pinot Noir get its name?

Pinot means cone in French. Some theorists believe these bunches of grapes resemble pine cones and that is how they got their name. Others believe that Pinot Noir originated in the region of Pinos or Pingols (in Auvergne) where Pinot has existed since the middle ages.

DNA profiling revealed that Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Précoce (Frühburgunder), Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and other popular varieties of Pinot do not belong to a ‘Pinot Family’ as was believed. Pinot grapes have mutated and can be considered as clones of a common grape variety. This is why bunches of Pinot may sometimes have stripes or even vary in color. ENTRAV-INRA, a French Government agency has classified over forty clones of Pinot.

Pinot has existed for over two thousand years. Its ability to mutate is believed to be linked to its age. Pinot is regarded as the parent or ancestor of varieties such as Aligoté, Chardonnay, Gouais Blanc and, Gamay Noir.

Growing the Perfect Pinot Noir
Pinot varies in expression and wine enthusiasts are often on a permanent quest to discover the true expression of Pinot Noir. For example Pinot Noir produced in Santenay is hugely different from wine produced in Central Otago. There is not question that both regions are producing Pinot Noir but the notes and expression vary. Great care is taken during the manufacturing process to create the powerful fragrance associated with Pinot Noir. What can sometimes seem like acidic, candy water transforms into one of the most richly perfumed wines on earth under the skill of passionate wine makers.

When growing Pinot Noir in Burgundy, the original home of Pinot Noir, traditional viticulturists pay careful attention to the climate and soil rather than on the quality of the Pinot Noir. The smallest changes in soil composition and climate can make a significant difference to the expression of the wine produced there. Not surprisingly, there are notable distinctions between wine produced in Pommard and wine produced in Volnay although the villages are quite close to each other.

The impact of the natural terrain on wine characteristics isn’t something that happens only in Burgundy. Every region has its own unique soil and climate which reflects in the wine. However Pinot Noir is even more sensitive than other grape varieties to its terrain. Burgundy, however, remains every Pinot Noir winemaker’s dream. Although winemakers in regions such as Washington, New Zealand, California and Oregon try their best to emulate the conditions in Burgundy, their wine has its own distinctive expression.

Is Oak Important in Pinot Noir Winemaking?
Oak barrels are a key component in Pinot Noir winemaking. Some of the questions raised by winemakers include:
  • How long should wine be stored in Oak barrels?
  • How much new oak is needed?
  • What size barrels should be used?
  • How long should the fermentation period be?
  • Is pre-fermentation an option when making Pinot Noir?
When considering the latter, remember that colder temperatures results in fresher fruit flavors. Warmer temperatures result in wines with a rich tannic structure and stronger flavor. As a way of retaining the Pinot character, many winemakers have gone back to the Burgundy roots by choosing organic viticulture since most commercial fertilizers tend to disrupt the chemical balance of the soil which in turn disrupts the chemical balance of the Pinot Noir.

Despite being revered for its brilliant red color, Pinot Noir is also a key ingredient in the production of sparkling white wines. It may be used on its own to make Blanc de Noirs or it can be blended with Chardonnay, and other Pinot varieties. Examples of blends are Pinot Blanc in Franciacorta and Pinot Meunier in Champagne. One of the most successful blends is the Pinot – Chardonnay which is a firm favorite in North and South America, Europe, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

Pinot Noir is also known as Pinot Nero, Pinot Negro, Spätburgunder, Blauburgunder.

The best foods to pair with Pinot Noir are:
  • Pappardelle pasta with a porcini ragu;
  • Roasted duck breast with plum sauce and,
  • Seared chicken livers on toast. 
Mostly used in below countries:

France 55%
USA 29%
New Zealand 4%
Italy 3%
Germany 3%
Australia 2%
Chile 1%
Other 3%