A Bit About Pinot Noir

Posted By Don Sumner on Jun 23, 2014 |

Pinot Noir’s home is in France’s Burgundy region, particularly in Côte-d’Or, and its name comes from the French words for “pine” and “black”; the pine alluding to the grape’s having tightly clustered, pine cone-shaped bunches of fruit.

Pinot Noir produces some of the finest wines in the world, but is a prima donna when it comes to cultivation and transformation into wine. It is “sensitive to wind and frost, cropping levels (it must be low yielding for production of quality wines), soil types and pruning techniques.

Janis Robinson calls Pinot a ‘minx of a vine’.

This is because in the winery it is sensitive to fermentation methods, yeast strains, and is highly reflective of its terroir with different regions producing sometimes very different wines. Burgundy is all about ‘terroir’, that symbiosis of grape, soil, climate, vineyard placement, and the human touch. Its thin skin makes it susceptible to bunch rot and similar fungal diseases of the bunch and the vines themselves are susceptible to powdery mildew. These complications have given the grape a reputation for being difficult to grow:André Tchelistcheff declared that ‘God made Cabernet Sauvignon whereas the devil made Pinot Noir.’ It is much less tolerant of hard, windy, hot and dry, harsh vineyard conditions than Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, or Grenache.”

But successful cultivation and winemaking creates a wine that is beloved around the world.

Joel Fleischman of Vanity Fair describes Pinot Noir as “the most romantic of wine, with so voluptuous a perfume, so sweet an edge, and so powerful a punch that, like falling in love, it makes the blood run hot and the soul wax embarrassingly poetic.”

More prosaically, Pinot tends to be light- to medium-bodied with an aroma reminiscent of black or red cherries, raspberries, and red currents. Traditional red Burgundy is famous for its sturdy, rich character and ‘farmyard’ aromas. Alternatively, California styles can highlight a more powerful, fruit forward and darker wine that is expressive and complex…or as Master Sommelier Madeline Triffon says: “it’s sex in a glass”.

Excerpts from Wikipedia