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Grape Varieties: Pinot Noir

Gamay Wines 

Pinot Noir Wines

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Nuits St George

 

All about Pinot Noir Wine

Pinot Noir wine is made from the great red grape of Burgundy: Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir is a tricky customer as it has a thin skin, is susceptible to rot, frequently damaged by hailstorms, particularly in its Burgundian spiritual home and tricky to get properly ripe.  However, when managed properly and given the opportunity to fully ripen Pinot Noir wines have an unmatchable silkiness, perfume and delicate opulence. Pinot Noir is the only grape variety permitted for red wine in Burgundy (with the exception of Beaujolais) and it makes super wines when all the conditions are right, the trouble is that this doesn't seem to happen very often! When young, good Pinot Noir wine has notes of fresh red fruits (particularly strawberries) with a more vegetal character emerging with age.

Pinot Noir is also a key ingredient in Champagne to which it lends weight and depth.  There are plantings of Pinot Noir elsewhere in France, but not many.  Xavier Guillaume produces Pinot Noir wine in Franche Comte to the east of Burgundy and frequently wines prizes with his examples at a wide range of wine competitions. Elsewhere in France Pinot Noir wine can be found in the form of red and rose wines of Sancerre and the red wines of Alsace.

Pinot Noir wine is made throughout much of the rest of the world but it is probably in New Zealand where the best non-French Pinot Noir wine is to be found.  Pinot Noir thrives in the cooler climate of New Zealand where its perfumed characteristics are frequently fully developed. Watch out for New Zealand Pinot Noir wine from Martinborough, Marlborough and Central Otago especially. Chilean Pinot Noir wine is also worth watching out for but is at its best from the cooler regions.

Whilst the quality of Pinot Noir wine is generally increasing around the rest of the world Pinot Noir is occasionally being planted in vineyards where the climate is too hot and the resulting Pinot Noir wines can frequently taste cooked and jammy and seem to lack the enchanting bouquet that shows Pinot Noir wines at their best. Australia and California can be particularly guilty here, though there are some good examples from cooler areas.

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