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Wine Spectator School

Class 3: International Varieties

pinot noir

The Grape

Pinot Noir is a notoriously finicky grape.

  • It prefers well-drained limestone soils.
  • It buds early but prefers cool climates, making it susceptible to frost.
  • The delicate, thin-skinned grapes rot easily. On the other hand, Pinot Noir has the ability to clearly reflect the specific location where it is grown.


The Wine

At its best, Pinot Noir attains an ethereal balance; it is simultaneously delicate, like fine porcelain, and powerful, with concentrated red and black fruit flavors and complex, earthy, exotic notes.

As a rule, Pinot Noir is lighter in color and not as full-bodied or tannic as Cabernet Sauvignon, but the flavors can be just as complex, offering strawberry, raspberry and cherry flavors along with notes of moist earth, mushroom and exotic spices.

Grapes grown in slightly...

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