Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir
(Andrew and Carrie Purcell)

[PEE-no nwar]

Characteristics

This popular red grape originated in Burgundy but has spread across the New World. Like its white Burgundian counterpart Chardonnay, Pinot Noir is early-budding, early-ripening and thin-skinned. The sites where it tends to thrive can experience tough growing conditions, which lead to more rigorous fruit selection and lower yields. This is one of the reasons that high-quality Pinot Noir often carries a higher price tag than other wines.

The variety enjoys cool climates and grows best in calcareous soils, marl and loam. Pinot Noir is known for its bright red fruit flavors of cherry, strawberry and raspberry, as well as floral notes. Its structure is friendly to many wine lovers: light in body, low in tannins, with good acidity. Pronounced earthiness can be found in Old World versions, like those of red Burgundy, whereas riper fruit-forward flavors are typical of New World styles, which are found in cool pockets of California and Oregon. The wines are juicy and approachable in their youth, but the best versions can develop elegant complexity as they age.

Where it's grown

A map of the world with France, Oregon, California, Australia, Germany, Italy and South Africa highlighted
Map by Henry Eng
France: Burgundy; Alsace; Loire Valley’s Sancerre
California: Sonoma, Santa Barbara, Mendocino
Australia: Yarra Valley, Tasmania
New Zealand: Central Otago
Italy: Friuli Venezia-Giulia, Trentino Alto-Adige

Pinot Noir icons

  • Burgundy: Domaines Leroy, Romanée-Conti, Roumier, Armand Rousseau
  • California: Brewer-Clifton, Kosta Browne, Marcassin, Williams Selyem
  • Oregon: Adelsheim, Beaux Frères, Domaine Serene
  • New Zealand: Escarpment, Felton Road

Suggested food pairings

  • California: roast duck
  • Burgundy: coq au vin

Pinot Noir fans may also like

  • Gamay
  • Frappato
  • Mencía
Know Your Grapes Red Wines Pinot Noir Burgundy California France Oregon

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