noir The name 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
noir grapes are grown around the world, mostly in the cooler
regions, but the grape is chiefly associated with the Burgundy
region of France. It is widely considered to produce some
of the finest wines in the world, but is a difficult variety
to cultivate and transform into wine.
of berry skin
tannins, Strawberry, raspberry, cherry, mushroom, meaty
Duck, Quail, Coq au Vin
Champagne, California (Russian River Valley), Marlborough,
Central Otago, Oregon, Casablanca Valley
thrives in France's Burgundy region, particularly on the Cote-d'Or
which has produced some of the world's most celebrated wines for
centuries. It is also planted in Austria, Argentina, Australia,
Canada, Chile, north parts of Croatia, the Republic of Georgia,
Germany, Italy, Hungary, the Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Romania,
New Zealand, South Africa, Serbia, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Czech
Republic, United States, Uruguay, Ukraine and Slovakia. The United
States has increasingly become a major Pinot noir producer, with
some of the best regarded coming from the Willamette Valley in
Oregon and California's Sonoma County with its Russian River Valley
and Sonoma Coast appellations. Lesser known appellations can be
found in Mendocino County's Anderson Valley as well as the Central
Coast's Santa Lucia Highlands appellation and the Sta. Rita Hills
American Viticultural Area in Santa Barbara County. In New Zealand,
it is grown in Martinborough, Marlborough, Waipara and Central
of Pinot noir are generally smaller than those of Cabernet
Sauvignon, but larger than those of Syrah.
The grape cluster is small and cylindrical, vaguely shaped like
a pine cone. Some viticultural historians believe this shape may
have given rise to the name. Pinot
noir tends to produce narrow trunks and branches. In the vineyard
it is sensitive to light exposure, cropping levels (it must be
low yielding), soil types and pruning techniques. In the winery
it is sensitive to fermentation methods, yeast strains and is
highly reflective of its terroir with different regions
producing very different wines. Its thin skin makes it highly
susceptible to bunch rot and other fungal diseases. The vines
themselves are prone to downy mildew, leaf roll, and fanleaf.
These complications have given the grape the reputation of being
difficult to grow: Jancis Robinson calls Pinot a "minx of a vine"
and Andre Tchelistcheff declared that "God made Cabernet Sauvignon
whereas the devil made Pinot noir."
wines are among the most popular in the world. Joel Fleischman
of Vanity Fair describes Pinot noir as "the most romantic of wines,
with so voluptuous a perfume, so sweet an edge, and so powerful
a punch that, like falling in love, they make the blood run hot
and the soul wax embarrassingly poetic." Master
Sommelier Madeline Triffon calls pinot "sex in a glass". Peter
Richardsson of OenoStyle christened it "a seductive yet fickle
broad range of bouquets, flavors, textures and impressions that
Pinot noir can produce sometimes confuses tasters.
In the broadest terms, the wine tends to be of light to medium
body with an aroma reminiscent of black cherry, raspberry or currant.
Traditional red Burgundy is famous for its fleshy, 'farmyard'
aromas, but changing fashions and new easier-to-grow clones have
favoured a lighter, fruitier style. The grape's color when young,
often compared to that of garnet, is often much lighter than that
of other red wines. However, an emerging style from California
and New Zealand highlights a more powerful, fruit forward and
darker wine that can approach syrah in depth.
It is also
used in the production of Champagne (usually along with Chardonnay
and Pinot meunier) and is planted in most of the world's wine
growing regions for use in both still and sparkling wines. Pinot
noir grown for dry table wines is generally low-yielding and often
difficult to grow well. Pinot noir grown for use in sparkling
wines (e.g. Champagne) is generally higher yielding.
to being used for the production of sparkling and still red wine,
Pinot noir is also sometimes used for rose still wines, and even
vin gris white wines.
mutants and clones
is an ancient variety that may be only one or two generations
removed from wild vines. The origins
of the variety are unclear: In De re rustica, Columella
describes a grape variety similar to Pinot noir in Burgundy during
the 1st century AD,
however, vines have grown wild as far north as Belgium in the
days before phylloxera, and it is possible that Pinot represents
an independent domestication of Vitis vinifera. The vines
of southern France may represent Caucasian stock transported by
the ancient Greeks.
Regner has proposed
that Pinot noir is a cross between Pinot meunier (Schwarzriesling)
and Traminer, but this work has not been replicated.
In fact Pinot meunier appears to be a Pinot noir with a
mutation in the epidermal cells which makes the shoot tips hairy
and the vine a little smaller.
This means that Pinot meunier is a chimera with two tissue layers
of different genetic makeup, one of which is identical to Pinot
noir. As such, Pinot meunier cannot be the parent of Pinot noir.
is a bud sport of Pinot noir, presumably representing a somatic
mutation in either the VvMYBA1 or VvMYBA2 genes that control grape
colour. Pinot blanc may represent a further mutation of Pinot
gris. The DNA profiles of both Pinot gris and blanc are identical
to Pinot noir; the other two major
Pinots, Pinot moure and Pinot teinturier, are also
genetically very similar.
(pronounced "ruttum") Pinot is an English variety with
white hairs on the upper surface of the leaves, and is particularly
resistant to disease. Edward Hyams of Oxted Viticultural Research
Station was alerted to a strange vine growing against a cottage
wall in Wrotham in Kent, which local lore said was descended from
vines brought over by the Romans. An experimental Blanc de Noir
was made at Oxted, and in 1980 Richard Peterson took cuttings
to California, where he now makes a pink sparkling Wrotham Pinot. Wrotham Pinot is sometimes
regarded as a synonym of Pinot meunier, but it has a higher natural
sugar content and ripens two weeks earlier.
appears to be particularly prone to mutation (suggesting it has
active transposable elements, and has a long history in cultivation,
so there are hundreds of different clones such as Pinot Fin and
Pinot Tordu. More than 50 are officially recognized in France
compared to only 25 of the much more widely planted cabernet sauvignon.
The French Etablissement National Technique pour lâ€™Amelioration
de la Viticulture (ENTAV) has set up a programme to select the
best clones of Pinot. This program has succeeded admirably in
increasing the number of quality clones available to growers.
Nonetheless, in the new world, particularly in Oregon, wines of
extraordinary quality continue to be made from the earlier Pommard
and Wadensvil clones.
is an early-ripening clone of Pinot noir. It is used mostly in
California but is also seen in New Zealand.
It was brought to California by Paul Masson. is an early-ripening
grape that is thought to be a clone of Pinot noir
- it's possible that the two are the same mutant.
2007, French researchers announced the sequencing of the genome
of Pinot noir.
It is the first fruit crop to be sequenced, and only the fourth
In the Middle
Ages, the nobility and church of northeast France grew some form
of Pinot in favoured plots, while peasants grew a large amount
of Gouais Blanc. Much cross-pollination usually resulted from
such close proximity, and the genetic distance between the two
parents imparted hybrid vigour leading to many desirable offspring.
These include Chardonnay, AligotÃ©, Auxerrois, Gamay, Melon and
In 1925 Pinot
noir was crossed in South Africa with the Cinsaut grape (known
locally as Hermitage) to create a unique variety called Pinotage.
is produced in several wine growing areas of Australia, notably
in the Yarra Valley, Geelong, the Bellarine Peninsula, Beechworth,
South Gippsland, Sunbury, Macedon Ranges and Mornington Peninsula
in Victoria, Adelaide Hills in South Australia, Great Southern
Wine Region in Western Australia all Tasmania and Canberra District
Pinot noir is sometimes called Blauburgunder (literally
Blue Burgundy) and produced in Burgenland and Lower Austria. Austrian
Pinot noir wines are dry red wines similar in character to the
red wines of Burgundy, mostly aged in French barriques. Some of
the best Austrian Pinots come from Neusiedlersee and Blaufraenkischland,
(Burgenland) and Thermenregion (Lower Austria).
noir has been grown in Ontario for some time in the Niagara Peninsula
and especially the Short Hills Bench wine region, as well as in
Prince Edward County and on the north shore of Lake Erie. It has
also been grown recently in the Okanagan, Lower Mainland, and
Vancouver Island wine regions of British Columbia and the Annapolis
Valley region of Nova Scotia.
is increasingly being planted in the U.K., mostly for use in sparkling
wine blends such as Nyetimber. It is sometimes made into a fairly
light still red or rose wine, in the style of Alsace; Chapel Down
are particular keen on it. The U.K. can claim an indigenous Pinot
variety in the Wrotham Pinot (see above).
has made France's Burgundy appellation famous, and vice-versa.
Many wine historians, including John Winthrop Haeger and Roger
Dion, believe that the association between pinot and Burgundy
was the explicit strategy of Burgundy's Valois dukes. Roger Dion,
in his thesis regarding Philip the Bold's role in promoting the
spread of Pinot noir, holds that the reputation of Beaune wines
as "the finest in the world" was a propaganda triumph of Burgundy's
Valois dukes. In
any event, the worldwide archetype for Pinot noir is that grown
in Burgundy where it has been cultivated since AD100.
Pinot noir produces great wines which can age very well in good
years, developing floral flavours as they age, often reaching
peak 15 or 20 years after the vintage. Many of the wines are produced
in very small quantities and can be very expensive. Today, the
celebrated Cote d'Or area of Burgundy has about 4,500 hectares
(11,000 acres) of Pinot noir. Most of the region's finest wines
are produced from this area. The Cote Chalonnaise and Maconnais
regions in southern Burgundy have another 4,000 hectares (10,000
In Jura departement,
across the river valley from Burgundy, the wines made from Pinot
noir are lighter.
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.
it is used to make red and rosÃ© wines, much lighter in style
that those of Burgundy, refreshing served chilled, especially
in warmer years when they are less thin.
it is generally used to make rose wines. However, it is also used
to make genuine red wines usually called Pinot noir rouge, which
are similar in character to red Burgundy and Beaujolais wines
but are consumed chilled. Prominent examples are Rouge de Barr
and Rouge d'Ottrott. Pinot noir rouge is the only red wine produced
it is called SpÃ¤tburgunder (lit. "Late Burgundian"),
and is now the most widely planted red grape.
Historically much German wine produced from Pinot noir was pale,
often rose like the red wines of Alsace. However recently, despite
the northerly climate, darker, richer reds have been produced,
often barrel (barrique) aged, in regions such as Baden, Palatinate
(Pfalz) and Ahr. These are rarely exported and are often very
expensive in Germany for the better examples. As "Rhenish", German
Pinot noir is mentioned several times in Shakesperean plays as
a highly prized wine.
There is also
a smaller-berried, early ripening, lower yield variety called
Freburgunder (Pinot noir , lit. "Early Burgundian") which
is grown in Rheinhessen and Ahr area and can produce very good
where Pinot noir is known as Pinot nero, it has traditionally
been cultivated in the Alto Adige, Collio Goriziano, OltrepÃ²
Pavese and Trentino regions to produce Burgundy-style red wines.
Cultivation of Pinot noir in other regions of Italy, mostly since
the 1980s, has been challenging due to climate and soil conditions.
Adige (called also SÃ¼dtirol or historically
Tirol) the variety is first noted 1838 as "Bourgoigne noir" in
an grape wine buy list of the "k.u.k. Landwirtschafts-Gesellschaft
von Tirol und Vorarlberg, Niederlassung Bozen" and later called
"Blauburgunder" like in Austria. The first analytical descriptions
are from Edmund Mach (founder of Ist. Agr. San Michele a.A.) in
the year 1894: Friedrich Boscarolli - Rametz/Meran - Rametzer
Burgunder 1890, Chorherrenstift Neustift - Blauburgunder 1890,
R.v.Bressendorf - Vernaun/Meran - Burgunder 1890, C.Frank - Rebhof
Gries Bozen - Burgunder 1889, Fr. Tschurtschenthaler - Bozen -
Burgunder 1890 & 1891, Fr. Tschurtschenthaler - Bozen - Kreuzbichler
1889 & 1891 & 1887. Today very small quantities
from certain micro-zones (Mazon/Neumarkt, Buchholz, Eppan Berg,
Vinschgau) are regularly on the top of Italian Pinot nero degustations.
See for example the Pinot nero days
is a grape variety whose importance in New Zealand is greater
than the weight of planting. Early in the modern wine industry
(late 1970s early 1980s), the comparatively low annual sunshine
hours to be found in NZ discouraged the planting of red varieties.
But even at this time great hopes were had for Pinot noir (see
Romeo Bragato). Initial results were not promising for several
reasons, including the mistaken planting of Gamay, and the limited
number of Pinot noir clones available for planting. However in
recent years Pinot noir from Martinborough and Central Otago has
won numerous international awards and accolades making it one
of New Zealand's most sought-after varieties.
one notable exception was the St Helena 1984 Pinot noir from the
Canterbury region. This led to the belief for a time that Canterbury
might become the natural home for Pinot noir in New Zealand. While
the early excitement passed, the Canterbury region has witnessed
the development of Pinot noir as the dominant red variety. The
next region to excel with Pinot noir was Martinborough on the
southern end of the North Island. The moderate climate and long
growing season gives wines of great intensity and complexity.
In the 2000s, other sub-regions in the Wairarapa have been developed
to the north of Martinborough.
this time the first plantings of Pinot noir in the Central Otago
wine region occurred in the Kawarau Gorge near Bannockburn. Central
Otago had a long (for New Zealand) history as a producer of quality
stone fruit and particularly cherries. Significantly further south
than all other wine regions in New Zealand, it had been overlooked
despite a long history of grape growing. However, it benefited
from being surrounded by mountain ranges which increased its temperature
variations both between seasons and between night and day making
the climate unusual in the typically maritime conditions in New
vines were planted using holes blasted out of the north facing
schist slopes of the region, creating difficult, highly marginal
conditions. The first results coming in the mid to late 1990s
excited the interest of British wine commentators, including Jancis
Robinson and Oz Clarke. The latest sub-region appears to be Waitaki,
on the border between Otago and Canterbury.
A recent blind
tasting of New Zealand Pinot noir featured in Cuisine magazine
(issue 119), Michael Cooper reported that of the top ten wines,
five came from Central Otago, four from Marlborough and one from
Waipara. This compares with all top ten wines coming from Marlborough
in an equivalent blind tasting from last year. Cooper suggests
that this has to do with more Central Otago production becoming
available in commercial quantities, than the relative qualities
of the regions' Pinot noir. In addition, as the industry has matured,
many of the country's top producers have made the decision to
no longer submit their wines to reviews or shows.
As is the
case for other New Zealand wine, New Zealand Pinot noir is fruit-driven,
forward and early maturing in the bottle. It tends to be quite
full bodied (for the variety), very approachable and oak maturation
tends to be restrained. High quality examples of New Zealand Pinot
noir, particularly from the Martinborough region, are distinguished
by savoury, earthy flavours with a greater complexity.
has recently been produced in small amounts in Lleida province,
Catalonia, under the appellation "Costers del Segre" DO.
is recently 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),
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 NeuchÃ¢tel, Schaffhausen, St. Gallen
and BÃ¼ndner Herrschaft. NeuchÃ¢tel, across the border from Burgundy,
is renowned for its Pinot noir, a full bodied dry red wine. In
Valais, Pinot noir is blended with Gamay to produce the well known
most Pinot noir in America is grown in California with Oregon
coming in second. Other regions are Washington State, Michigan
and New York.
wine regions known for producing Pinot noir are:
River Valley AVA
- Sta. Rita
County / Santa Lucia Highlands
- Santa Cruz
District of Napa and Sonoma
- San Luis
Obispo County / Arroyo Grande Valley, Edna Valley
wine regions known for producing Pinot noir:
Pinot noir pioneer David Lett of Eyrie Vineyards is widely credited
for first having planted Pinot noir in Oregon in 1965, Richard
Sommers of Hillcrest Vineyards should be regarded as the first
to plant and produce Pinot noir. He planted the variety in 1959
at his vineyards in the Umpqua Valley and produced wine from those
vineyards in the early 1960s. In the 1970s several
other growers followed suit. In 1979, David Lett took his wines
to a competition in Paris, known in English as the Wine Olympics,
and they placed third among pinots. In a 1980 rematch arranged
by French wine magnate Robert Drouhin, the Eyrie vintage improved
to second place. The competition established Oregon as a world
class Pinot noir producing region.
Valley of Oregon is at the same latitude as the Burgundy region
of France, and has a similar climate in which the finicky Pinot
noir grapes thrive. In 1987, Drouhin purchased land in the Willamette
Valley, and in 1989 built Domaine Drouhin Oregon, a state-of-the-art,
gravity-fed winery. Throughout the 1980s, the Oregon wine industry
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the Acids in Wine
(Tannins) in Wine
The Basic Wine Pairing
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a Wine Sommelier
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Dipoli, Michela Carlotto: Mazon und sein Blauburgunder
(in italian: Mazzon e il suo Pinot nero), Verschnerungsverein
Neumarkt, Fotolito Varesco, Auer, 2009 -
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