Guide to Pinot Noir
It’s the key grape in France’s red Burgundy, produces high-quality, sought-after wines in California and Oregon, and is used in sparkling wine, rosé, and red and white wine production in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. It’s no wonder the versatile Pinot Noir grape is so beloved!
What do you know about the world’s 10th most planted varietal?
Fast Facts about Pinot Noir
- Pinot Noir is believed to have originated in France, which currently has the highest number of Pinot Noir plantings. It is primarily produced in Burgundy (Bourgogne).
- The name is derived from the French words for “pine” and “black.” The name “pine” describes the tightly packed grapes within a cluster, which resembles a pine cone.
- Pinot Noir enjoys a moderate climate with cool temperatures.
- Pinot’s tightly clustered grapes make it susceptible to rot. This (plus its affinity for cool climates) makes it notoriously difficult to grow.
- The U.S. is the second-highest Pinot producer. Some of its well-known Pinot-producing regions are the Willamette Valley in Oregon and California’s Carneros, Central Coast, Sonoma Coast, and Russian River AVAs.
- The third and fourth highest Pinot-producing countries are Germany and Moldova.
- The Pinot Noir grape mutates easily. These mutations have given us Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris.
- Pinot Noir is not only made into a red table wine but is also used for sparkling wine (it is one of only three grapes allowed in Champagne). It can also be pressed and fermented without skin contact to create a white Pinot Noir.
- New Zealand is quickly gaining a reputation for producing high-quality Pinot Noir.
Old World vs. New World Pinot Noir
Because it is grown in so many locations and produced under varying styles, it can be difficult to describe Pinot Noir’s flavor profile. In general, it is easiest to think of Pinot Noir as having a lighter body, higher acidity (making it incredibly food-friendly), and being lower in tannins. Its fruits are brighter as opposed to the deep, mature, and ripe fruits of other varietals.