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Grape Varietals

Pinot Noir





Pinot Noir is a black wine grape variety and may also refer to wines created predominantly from Pinot noir grapes. The name is derived from the French words for "pine" and "black" alluding to the grape variety's tightly clustered dark purple pine-cone shaped bunches of fruit. Pinot noir is almost certainly a very ancient variety that may be only one or two generations removed from the wild Vitis Sylvestris vines with a great possibility of it (Pinot Noir) being its direct domestication. Its origins are nevertheless unclear with a similar grape variety finding mentions in Burgundy during the 1st century AD.

Pinot noir grapes are grown around the world, mostly in the cooler regions, but the grape is chiefly associated with the Burgundy region of France, particularly Côte-d'Or. From the New World regions, USA and New Zealand are major producers of good quality Pinots.

 Pinot Noir Wines

Considered to produce some of the finest wines in the world, is a difficult variety to cultivate and transform into wine. These grapes are very sensitive to wind, frost, dew, pruning techniques, soil types, cropping levels, bunch rot and leaf viruses.

Highly reflective of the terroir with different regions producing very different wines, Pinots show a tremendously broad range of bouquets, flavours, textures and impressions, sometimes confusing tasters. In the broadest terms, the wine tends to be of light to medium body with an aroma of black and / or red cherry, raspberry, currant and many other small red and black berry fruits. Simple, inexpensive Pinots are show a lot of fruit but the expensive ones are complex and show flavours of earth, smoke and violets. Traditional red Burgundy is famous for its savoury fleshiness and 'farmyard' aromas. But changing fashions, modern winemaking techniques, and new easier-to-grow clones have favoured a lighter, more fruit-prominent, cleaner style. The wine's colour when young is garnet, frequently being much lighter than that of other red wines as Pinot Noir has a lower skin anthocyanin (colouring matter) content than most other classical red / black varieties. However, an emerging, increasingly evident, style from California and New Zealand highlights a more powerful, fruit forward and darker wine that can tend toward Syrah (or even new world Malbec) in depth, extract, and alcoholic content.

Pinot noir is also used in the production of Champagne along with Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. In addition to being used for the production of sparkling and still red wine, Pinot noir is also sometimes used for rosé still wines, and even vin gris (white wines) because its juice is uncoloured.

Some of the most famous Pinots come from Gevrey-Chambertin and Nuits-Saint-Georges in Burgundy, France. From the New World Regions, Willamette Valley in Oregon, California's Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast and New Zealand’s Martinborough, Marlborough, Waipara and Central Otago regions produce some great Pinots.

Food Pairing

Pinot Noir wine goes well with lighter flavoured foods that are grilled, roasted or sautéed. Pair it with red meats like duck, ham, quail or beef in mildly flavoured sauces like basil, butter, lavender, mustard, red wine and thyme. It also tastes fantastic with distinctly flavoured fish like tuna and salmon and veggies like mushroom, cabbage and potato.

Interesting Facts

In 1925 Pinot noir was crossed in South Africa with the Cinsaut grape (known locally by the misnomer 'Hermitage') to create a unique variety called Pinotage.

During 2004 and the beginning of 2005, Pinot noir wine became considerably more popular among consumers in America, Australia, New Zealand and Asia possibly because of the movie ‘Sideways’.

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