10 Things You Want To Know About Pinot Noir

Stuart Brown
Author – Stuart Brown

Pinot Noir is an interesting little grape. It might be one of the easiest of the red wine varieties to drink. At the same time it’s one of the most difficult to grow. The fact that it’s so hard to grow leads to a devotion not seen with other red grapes from both winemakers and enthusiasts.

In honour of Pinot Noir day, apart from cracking open a couple of chilled bottles at VWHQ, and maybe watching Sideways. We’re going to present to you 10 things you might not have known about this popular grape.

  • It’s one of the oldest varieties in the world.

Pinot Noir has been around since the Roman times. Over 1,000 years before Cabernet Sauvignon was widely planted. Monks cultivated the grape first in Burgundy and many of the old monasteries still stand.

  • It’s widely used in Champagne production.

It might be a red grape, but it’s often blended into Champagne. Dom Pérignon himself is credited with pioneering the introduction of Pinot Noir into sparkling wines back in the late 17th Century.

  • Pinot Grigio, I am your father.

In the book Wine Grapes authors Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding and José Vouillamoz claim that Pinot Grigio, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris have identical DNA to Pinot Noir. They are simply colour mutations of the Pinot Noir grape. So, if you like Noir maybe you should also be trying some Grigio, Gris and Blanc!

  • France is the #1 producer.

Ahead of Germany (3rd place) and the USA (2nd place) – France is the world’s biggest Pinot Noir producer. The variety is produced all over the world and is currently the 10th most planted grape variety in the world.

  • It’s REALLY food-friendly.

Cheeses, pasta dishes, chicken, duck, lamb, beef, pork, pizza, shellfish….. this wonderful variety just goes with everything. As with most high-acidity wines; cheeses, breads and rich-creamy sauces are the best pairings.

a picture of two women enjoying a glass of red wine in the sun

  • Hong Kong Fandom.

The demand from Hong Kong for Pinot Noir has sky-rocketed in the past few years. But not just any Pinot Noir – Hong Kong residents are specifically obsessed with the most famously grown Pinot Noir from the Dijon region in France.

  • It’s all about Terroir.

The people of Hong Kong are on to something though. The Pinot’s of Burgundy are revered as the best and are the most sought after. In 2013 12 bottles of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti was sold at auction for $476,280. The most ever paid for a Pinot Noir. Warm days and cold nights are the ideal conditions to grow Pinot Noir in. Which leaves only very specific sites around the world as ripe for Pinot production.

  • Pine Black.

Yep, that’s where the name comes from. Bunches of Pinot Noir grapes resemble pine cones, and the ‘Noir’ comes from the deep purple colour. Simple as that.

  • It ages very well.

A favourite of wine collectors due to its high mineral content and acidity, Pinot Noir ages excellently for decades. A bottle of the 1990 Romanee-Conti DRC will set you back $28k – yep, that’s twenty eight thousand dollars. So, probably best to buy something affordable this year and cellar it yourself.

  • It’s delicious served chilled.

Had she reached the legal drinking age in fairy-tale land, Goldilocks would have found Pinot Noir a tricky customer. Too warm and it can start to taste too smoky and earthy, too cold and you’re going to lose the berry, black cheery and plum flavours. It’s got to be served just right – around 55°F / 12℃.

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