Pinot noir is a red wine grape variety of the species Vitis vinifera. Derived from the French words for “pine” and “black” (French: pino nwaʁ) alluding to the varietals’ tightly clustered dark purple pine cone shaped bunches of fruit.
In recent years Pinot Nior has become one of the worlds most popular wines and is grown in many contries including Australia, Austria, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Moldova, New Zealand, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, United States and many other countries.
Grown in cooler climates Pinot Noir is a fickle grape requiring optimum growing conditions, demanding warm days consistently supported by cool evenings. With a thin skin Pinot Noir is often described as being a “difficult” grape, to grow, to deal with in the winery and for this reason it's know as a real “Wine makers Wine”
Pinot Noir has a rich and long history from it's roots in France's Burgundy region, particularly in Côte-d'Or.Catholic monks from the region enhanced its awareness by using it in their sacraments and over many years with lots of experimentation and even more patience they refinded their Pinot Noir and by the sixth century barrels of Pinot Noir were being sent to the pope. This was disrupted in 1789 because of the French revolution, at this point the vineyards were seized and redistributed to surviving family members and are independently run.
The flavours, textures and impressions that Pinot Noir produces is tremendously broad, but tends to be of light to medium body with a variety of complex aromas. Here are a few example of things to look for in your taisting of Pinot Noir.
Medium Ruby, Dark Ruby,
Black Cherry, Berries, Currant, Plum, Strawberry, Raspberry, Ripe tomato
Rose petal, Violet
Vanilla, Coconut, Sweet wood, Smoke, Toast, Tar
Rhubarb, Beet, Oregano, Green tomato, Green tea, Black Olive, Dried Herb
Weighty, Rich, Silky, Velvety, Soft and Smooth Tannins, Long Finish
Produced in many parts of Australia with the cooler parts of the country now producing some fine example of this great wine. The most notable areas include Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Yarra Valley, Geelong, Bellarine Peninsula, Beechworth, South Gippsland, Sunbury, Macedon Ranges, Adelaide Hills in South Australia, Great Southern Wine Region in Western Australia, all Tasmania, and the Canberra District in the ACT.
Sometimes called Blauburgunder (Blue Burgundy) in Austria. The best Pinot Noir is grown in the areas of Neusiedlersee and Blaufraenkischland, (Burgenland) and Thermenregion (Lower Austria). They produce dry red wines similar in character to the red wines of Burgundy, mostly aged in French barriques.
The cool climat of Canada produces some high quality Pinor Noir, notable areas include Niagara-on-the-Lake and Short Hills Bench wine regions, north shore of Lake Erie, Okanagan, Lower Mainland, and Vancouver Island wine regions of British Columbia, Annapolis Valley region of Nova Scotia and the Lanaudière region of Quebec.
Not a big grower of Pinot Noir but the vines are being increasingly being planted in the U.K, they are mostly used for blends of sparkling wines such as Nyetimber and some lighter red and rose wines.
France is the birth place on Pinot Noir and is still home of the large panted areas with well over 20,000 acres on Pinot vines. Burgandy is know for Pinot Noir more then any area on earth with many people refuring to some of the best wines from around the world as “burgundian sytle”. Côte d’Or area of Burgundy has about 4,500 hectares (11,000 acres) of Pinot noir with most of the fines wines being produced in this area. Jura département, across the river valley from Burgundy, the wines made from Pinot noir are lighter.
In Champagne it used in blending with Chardonnay and Pinot meunier. It can also appear unblended, in which case it may be labeled blanc de noirs. The Champagne appellation has more Pinot planted than any other area of France and in Sancerre it is used to make red and rosé wines.
In Germany it is called Spätburgunder (lit. “Late Burgundian”), and is now the most widely planted red grape. In year gone by the Pinot Noir produces in Germany was much more pale, almost rose like due to over-cropping and bunch-rotting, however in recent years some darker, richer reds have been produced in the regions of Baden, Palatinate (Pfalz) and Ahr.
Know as Pinot nero in Italy it has traditionally been produced in South Tyrol, the Collio Goriziano, Oltrepò Pavese and Trentino regions to produce Burgundian Sytle red wines.
Large amounts of Pinot were planted in central Moldova during the 19th century, but much was lost to the ravages of phylloxera; Soviet control of Moldova from 1940 to 1991 also reduced the productivity of vineyards. Quality is somewhat variable; Moldovan Pinot can be overoaked and rather rough.
Pinot has become a very important grape variaty in New Zealand although when first grown did not look promising. Since the 1970's high quality clones and much-improved viticulture and winemaking has seen Pinot noir from New Zealand win numerous international awards and accolades. From Martinborough in the north to Central Otago in the south and Canterbury, Martinborough, Hawkes Bay between just to name a few amzing areas producing some of the finest Pinot Noir in the world.
In Slovenia, the pinot noir is produced especially in the Slovenian Littoral, particularly in the Goriška Brda sub-region. In smaller amounts, the pinot noir is also produced in Slovenian Styria. The wine is usually called Modri Pinot (Blue Pinot) or also Modri Burgundec (Blue Burgundy).
Pinot noir has recently been produced in small amounts in Lleida province, Catalonia, under the appellation “Costers del Segre”. It is also being produced in small amounts in Ronda (province Malaga, Andalusia) by Cortijo Los Aguilares. It got a Great Golden Medal at the Pinot Noir Competition, in Sierre (Valais, Switzerland), this year.
Pinot noir is a popular grape variety all over Switzerland. In German speaking regions of Switzerland it is often called Blauburgunder. Pinot noir wines are produced in Neuchâtel, Schaffhausen, St. Gallen and Bündner Herrschaft. In Valais, Pinot noir is also blended with Gamay to produce the well known Dôle.
By volume most Pinot noir in America is grown in California with Oregon coming in second. Other regions are the states of Washington, Oregon, Michigan, and New York. David Lett of Eyrie Vineyards is widely credited for first having planted Pinot noir in Oregon in 1965 however Richard Sommers of Hillcrest Vineyards should be regarded as the first to plant and produce Pinot noir with both men pioneers for Pinot in the US.