Pinot noir is the 10th most planted wine grape variety in the world. Wines made with pinot noir have cultivated a massive following of hardcore wine enthusiasts.
Average prices for pinot noir tend to be higher than other grapes. So what is it about this grape that is so darn special to enthusiasts? Let’s look at 5 facts about pinot noir.
Pinot noir ranks with some of the oldest grapes in the world. Grapes that have been around since the Roman times also include muscat blanc, timorasso, a rare white grape with only 50 acres around Piedmont in Italy, and nearly extinct gouais blanc, which supposedly was “the grape” of the middle ages in Europe.
Wine writers Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding, and José Vouillamoz of the book Wine Grapes claim that pinot gris/grigio and pinot blanc are simply colour mutations of pinot noir. Each grape’s DNA was analyzed only to find out they are identical. So, if you like pinot noir, start drinking all the pinots!
Germany is the 3rd largest producer of pinot noir after France and the US. Pinot noir is commonly called Spätburgunder in Germany. The wines from the Baden (in the Kaiserstuhl district), Pfalz (‘faults’), and the Nahe (‘nah-ha’) are all worth finding and drinking.
Chardonnay is related to pinot noir. It’s a natural crossing of pinot noir and gouais blanc (the near-extinct variety mentioned above!). This is why chardonnay and pinot noir always seem to grow together (like in Burgundy, France).
Pinot noir has a natural ability to be lighter than other red wines and have low tannin. However, a recent tasting of Grand Cru Burgundy showed that pinot noir could have a hell of a lot more tannin.
How do winemakers do this? Well, besides reducing yields in the vineyards to make concentrated grapes, many wine producers use a technique called whole cluster fermentation. Whole cluster fermentation is when the entire grape bunch, including the stems, goes into the crusher and fermenter. This technique is rare in wine varieties other than pinot. The stems add tannin (which you can taste on the front of your mouth as a drying and astringent sensation). The tannin adds a longer runway of life for the wines to age.
Finally, if you’re serious about pinot noir, you might start looking for a “proper” pinot noir glass. There are no rules as to what exactly to buy, but here’s what makes a great pinot noir glass:
(Source: Wine Folly)