Guide to Wine

Guide to Pinot Noir Wines

Pinot Noir Grapes
Pinot Noir Grapes
Wines made with Pinot Noir [Pee-no-nwarh] are known for their elegance and refinement. They often possess an exotic bouquet along with a velvety, mouth-filling texture. Pinot Noir exhibits flavors of ripe red fruit, cherry, chocolate, toast and spices. Most famous in Burgundy, where it is the only grape permitted in producing the famous red wines of the Côte d’Or, Pinot Noir thrives in cooler climates. Other fine, well-structured examples of Pinot Noir can be found in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and California’s Carneros and Russian River Valley.

 

Aromas

  • Red Fruit – Cherry, Strawberry, Raspberry, Currant
  • Oak – Oak, Cedar, Smoke, Vanilla, Spice, Pepper
  • Complex – Chocolate, Coffee, Tobacco, Earth, Herb

Flavors

  • Red Fruit – Cherry, Strawberry, Raspberry, Currant
  • Oak – Oak, Cedar, Smoke, Vanilla, Spice, Pepper
  • Complex – Chocolate, Coffee, Tobacco, Earth, Herb

Styles

  • Fresh Fruit/Easy Drinking – Fruit forward and easy drinking
  • Intense Fruit/Ripe Tannins – Great fruit flavors and medium bodied with detectable tannins
  • Elegant – Medium to full bodied with succulent fruit flavors, complexity and refined tannins

Food

  • Fresh Fruit/Easy Drinking – Aperitifs, Light Cheese
  • Intense Fruit/Ripe Tannins – Game dishes
  • Elegant – Salmon, Pork, Veal

Regions

Pinot Noir is considered the most sensual, seductive red wine with its exotic, inviting, perfumed, spicy, earthy, vividly fruity flavors. If Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are the structured, conservative buttoned-down wines, then Pinot Noir is the lavish, artistic, sensual wine.

The reference point for Pinot Noir is in Burgundy’s Côte d’Or, where the grape has been cultivated and recognized for its quality for a thousand years. Winemakers in California, Oregon and Australia emulate the top domaines in Burgundy and the results, while mixed even 10 years ago, have been dramatic. California’s best success with Pinot Noir has been the cooler climate areas of Carneros and the Russian River Valley. Oregon has prevailed, especially in the Willamette Valley with soils and temperatures most similar to those in Burgundy.

Pinot Noir is experiencing a golden age, but this is a grape variety legendary for its difficulty. Thin-skinned, late ripening, prone to rot and easily damaged by rough handling in the vineyard and winery, Pinot Noir is notoriously tough to make into good wine. The reason winegrowers continue to put up with its fickleness is that when their efforts are successful, the resulting wine can be extraordinary. Great Pinot Noir is a decadent experience, a life-long memory.

Frankly, the results used to be bad more often than good. But hard work and cooperation among Pinot Noir producers regardless of nationality have combined to reverse that trend. Pinot Noir is the source of more delicious, memorable wine than ever before.

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