Pinot Noir is the world’s most popular light-bodied red wine. It’s loved for its red fruit, flower, and spice aromas that are accentuated by a long, smooth finish.
- Medium Body
- Medium Low Tannin
- Medium-High Acidity
- 11.5–13.5% ABV
A very versatile food pairing wine given it's higher high acidity and lower tannin. Pinot Noir pairs particularly well with duck, chicken, pork, and mushrooms.
Fun Facts About Pinot Noir
- Pinot Noir likely originated in Burgundy, France. (Robinson et al. 808)
- Mark your calendar! August 18th is Pinot Noir Day.
- Pinot Noir enjoys the same climate as Chardonnay. You’ll often find these two grapes planted close by.
- Blanc de Noirs Champagne uses Pinot Noir (and Pinot Meunier) as its base grape.
- Pinot Noir is one of the few red grapes that’s commonly made into red, rosé, white, and sparkling wine!
- DNA analysis has revealed that Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Blanc are simply mutations of the same grape! (Regner et al. 2000b)
Pinot Noir vines tend to prefer more intermediate climates with long, cool growing seasons. For this reason, you’ll often find Pinot Noir growing in protected valleys or near large bodies of water.
French Pinot Noir
Flavors: Cherry, Hibiscus, Rose Petal, Mushroom, Potting Soil
Pinot Noir wines are made in a few places throughout France but the most famous region – by far – is Burgundy (aka “Bourgogne.”)
The world’s most coveted Pinot Noir vines grow on a narrow, east-facing slope just South of Dijon. Burgundy is a very old wine region and was first tended by Cistercian monks in the Middle Ages.
When tasting French Pinot Noir, you may note its more earthy and floral style. This is part of Burgundy’s terroir. In fact, many fine winemakers here choose to ferment with whole grape clusters to increase tannin in their Pinot Noir wines. This effort may result in bitterness early on, but results in wines that age 20+ years.
California Pinot Noir
Flavors: Cherry, Raspberry, Allspice, Darjeeling Tea, Vanilla
The United States is very diverse. That said, the lion’s share of American Pinot Noir wines come from California. While California might otherwise be too warm for this grape, you’ll find Pinot Noir excels in places that receive cooling breezes (and morning fog) from the Pacific Ocean. The ocean moderates the temperatures in places like Sonoma, Southern Napa Valley, and the Central Coast (including Santa Barbara.)
California Pinot Noir is typically rich, fruity, and lush in style. The ample sun and controlled temperatures make it easy for winemakers to pick at the perfect moment when ripeness is optimal. Besides brooding rich fruit flavors, many of these wines have subtle allspice undertones from aging in imported French oak barrels.
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