Pinot Noir - A Guide to the Basics (2023)

Pinot Noir inspires more passion in its ardent fans than any other grape variety. Makes sense: Pinot's history can be traced back nearly a millenniumBurgundy, where even today the great Grand Crus of the region fetch some of the highest prices in the entire wine world. It also thrives in the New World, producing modern classics from Oregon toNew Zealand. And although it is much more difficult to grow in the vineyard thanCabernet Sauvignon, for example, Pinot Noir is worth it. In the right soil and the coolest, most perfect climate, wines produced from Pinot Noir are capable of greatness. It's even a key ingredient in itchampagne!

Pinot Noir - A Guide to the Basics (1)

What is Pinot Noir wine?

Pinot Noir is a wine made from the grape variety of the same name. Most Pinot Noir wines are reds, but they can also be used to make great rosés (look forInman Family "Endless Crush" OGV Estate Roséfor a happy and complicated example).Pinot Noirit is also one of the three main grape varieties in Champagne, along with Pinot Meunier andChardonnay. But it's the red Pinot Noir that gets the most attention, and from the cheapest, most fertile examples to the kind of bottles that make collectors and their accountants break out in a cold sweat, Pinot Noir can do it all.

Where does Pinot Noir wine come from?

Pinot Noir is most famously associated with Burgundy, where for nearly a millennium it was the source of some of the region's best wines. Even today, the Côte d'Or's iconic Grand Cru vineyards are synonymous with greatness: appellations such as Romanée-Conti, La Tâche, Richebourg, Le Chambertin and others line the limestone-rich mountain range. However the wonderful Pinot Noir can also be found in Champagne in the north where it is often blended with Pinot Meunier andChardonnay, or even alone for Blanc de Noir bottlings. Bollinger's excellent PN VZ16 goes one step further: this is a rare champagne made exclusively from Pinot Noir grown in the unique village of Verzenay.

In the United States, Pinot Noir thrives in California, especially Sonoma County, where the Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast, and Alexander Valley grow beautifully. Santa Barbara County is also the source of the best Pinot Noir. Up north in Oregon, the Willamette Valley has become a hot spot for world-class Pinot Noir, and the recent split into AVA components has made the region even more exciting.

In the southern hemisphere, Chile and New Zealand have become Pinot Noir hotspots. Patagonian Pinot Noir is an increasingly interesting category, and the top examples from New Zealand's south central Otago are absolutely stunning. When it comes to Pinot Noir, despite all the challenges it presents in the vineyard and in the cellar, the rewards are worth it all over the world.

Why should you drink Pinot Noir wine?

Depending on where it's grown and how it's produced, Pinot Noir can be light, fruity, and perfect for everyday use.clamp, or able to age for decades. In addition to its use in rosé and champagne (and rosé champagne!), red Pinot Noir can be found in a wide variety of styles and at varying price points. In general though, a good Pinot Noir costs a little more than its Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah counterparts, often as a result of the challenges it presents in the vineyard. In general, Pinot Noir is louderacidityand more moderatetannins(After all, it is a cooler climate variety), which makes it suitable both for drinking on its own and accompanying a variety of foods.

Pinot Noir is actually one of those wines that belies the old adage that red wine goes best with meat. After all, a good bottle of Pinot Noir goes very wellsalmon, whose fleshy texture blends well with the weight of a red, but doesn't overwhelm the wine itself. Pinot Noir is also great with mushrooms and game. Pinot andethey are a classic couple andpork filletalongside a great Pinot will elevate any dinner into the stratosphere.

Pinot Noir can be produced in a style that is best enjoyed once the bottle is purchased, but also in forms that are expected to age for years – decades in some cases! Many people invest in Pinot Noir for their collections, and given the premium prices of Burgundy's most famous and valuable red wine bottlings - Grand Crus by Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Comte de Voguë, Georges Roumier and others - they are becoming increasingly more they are used primarily as investments. But even these bottles are meant to be opened and enjoyed. Besides, it's still wine!

What does Pinot Noir taste like?

Pinot Noir thrives in cooler climates. Its best springs around the world — Burgundy, the Sonoma Coast, Oregon's Willamette Valley, New Zealand's Central Otago and others — aren't necessarily the kinds of places that tend to get extremely hot in the summer. It should therefore come as no surprise that Pinot Noir is a relatively more acidic grape variety, structured more by these acids than by particularly strong tannins. Flavors of berries and cherries are common, as well as a counterpoint of subtle floral aromas and a more earthy base note reminiscent of mushrooms or the forest floor. Even tips forocan be experienced. Of course, there are many bottlings that feature darker fruits and spices.

Due to its freshness, Pinot Noir is best enjoyed slightly above cellar temperature. Room temperature Pinot Noir is not recommended. Keep in mind that “ambient temperature” should be thought of more like a sunken castle or farmhouse in Europe 500 years ago, not the 70 degrees Fahrenheit of most modern thermostats. If your Pinot bottle is at room temperature, place it in the fridge for 20 minutes, which will help bring out its freshness and energy.

Pinot Noir is best enjoyed in a Pinot Noir glass, which slopes most dramatically from the widest part of the bowl to the rim, forming a roughly triangular shape. But a good bottle of Pinot Noir will also outshine a glass of all-purpose wine.

Five good Pinot Noir wines

There are countless excellent Pinot Noir wines on the market today. Listed alphabetically, these five producers are a perfect way to start exploring all that Pinot Noir has to offer.

Dutton Goldfield

Respecting its single vineyard Pinot Noirs, Dutton Goldfield has achieved success with Dutton Ranch - Emerald Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir 2019 from Vale Verde do Rio Russo Valley. A beautifully lifted nose of red cherries and rosewater precedes an energetic palate that vibrates with cherries, cranberries, pomegranates and blackberries. Light and concentrated minerality and acidity stand out, as well as a touch of roasted spices and forest floor before the floral and mineral finish.

sea ​​smoke

The 2019 Sea Smoke Pinot Noir and Chardonnay releases represent the renowned producer's 20th anniversary, but don't miss out on past vintages: 2017 Pinot Noir “Southing”, from the estate's biodynamic vineyard in Sta. Rita Hills offers incredibly pure cherry and a hint of raspberry black complicated by subtle notes of licorice, cracked pepper and candied rose petals. Sweet spices permeate the long finish.


From his base in Amity, Oregon, Nicholas Keeler produces an exciting and reliable lineup of Pinots and Chardonnays, vintage after vintage. Eola Springs Vineyard Heritage '72 Block Pinot Noir 2016 Eola-Amity Hills is a delicious example of her talent with red plums, rose petals and cola spice dissected by flavors of sarsaparilla, dried porcini, oolong tea and vivid cherries.

rugged mountain range

The Craggy Range is one of New Zealand's best known producers, offering a range of Pinot Noir and Saugivnon Blanc. Martinborough's 2018 Te Muna Road Pinot Noir is a tangy, tangy bottle with lots of tamarind paste and sour cherries.

Louis Jadot

One of Burgundy's best-known names, Jadot produces a wide range of wines that span all price ranges. Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Boudots 1er Cru Domaine Gagey 2018 is elegant and very well structured, the silky palate carries flavors of red and black cherry, pomegranate, cardamom and red tea, all framed by juicy tannins and energetic acidity that promises another decade of development.


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