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Pinot noir

Wines made from these small to medium-sized grapes are considered to be the “kings of red wines”. Pinot noir has the status of “cépages noble”, a French term denoting the most noble of grape varieties. It is the principal grape variety in red Burgundies and the main grape used to make Champagne.
It is very fussy about conditions where it is grown. Red wines vinified from the Pinot noir grape take a long time to mature before they unfold their prized bouquet. The vine’s dark blue grapes are tightly clustered in pine cone-shaped clusters. This may even have given rise to its name as it is thought that “pinot” derives from the French word for pine. Swirled in a glass, the colour of this noble wine is either a dark blueberry hue or a fiery ruby red.
Pinot Noir ist die Haupt-Rebsorte für roten Pinot noir is the principal grape variety in red Burgundies and the main grape used to make Champagne.und bildet die Grundkomponente für Champagner.

Cultivating Pinot noir takes a lot of skill

In all likelihood this noble grape was already being cultivated by the Romans over 2,000 years ago in what is now Burgundy.
Pinot noir is not an easy grape to grow and is challenging both for winegrowers and cellar masters. The small, thin-skinned berries ripen late, are vulnerable to frost in the spring and rot in the autumn. The vine thrives best on limestone soils in a cool climate.

Characteristics of Pinot noir wine

Pinot noir is one of the few grape varieties that is usually vinified as a pure varietal. However, it is also used in superior blends. In Switzerland, it is blended with Gamay to create the famous Valais speciality Dôle.
The quality and flavour of a Pinot noir wine greatly depends on terroir. In general Pinot noirs are fruity. This fruitiness can be subtle or more marked. Supple and mouth-filling are further typical attributes. Many display aromas of berries, cherries or figs. When fully matured, their complex character can be enhanced by nuanced notes of almonds, herbs or wood. Many winemakers like to age Pinot noir in barriques.
With food, the fruit-driven full-bodied wine is excellent for enjoying with white poultry meats and seafood and also with dark meats such as roast beef or game.

Global growing regions: Pinot noir wine is in demand the world over

If it is to produce a quality wine, this demanding grape variety requires yield control and very careful vinification. Despite this, it is grown all over the world. Within just a few decades, global production saw a threefold increase, making Pinot noir one of the most planted varieties of all. Local variants, a variety of terroirs and different clones have created a highly nuanced palette.

France: Pinot noir wines from the ancestral homeland

The most famous, best, most sophisticated and also most expensive Pinot noir wines all come from the grape’s ancestral home, Burgundy. As far back as the 10th century the Benedictine monastery of Cluny was instrumental in encouraging the cultivation of Pinot noir grapes. Cluny is still central to Burgundy grape production today as it is surrounded by some of the best Grand Cru terroir. Similarly pre-eminent is the Côte d’Or region in the heart of Burgundy. The Burgundy wines Musigny, Chambertin, Volnay and Pommard are made from 100% Pinot noir grapes. Pinot noir is frequently encountered in Alsace and Champagne too, where the grape is vinified without skins for blending in Champagne. Individual pockets are also cultivated in the Jura region and the Loire Valley.

Noble Pinot noir dominates Swiss wine production

Pinot noir dominates the viticultural landscape in Switzerland where it is produced both as a varietal and as a blending wine. Valais winemakers most often blend it with Gamay to create the highly aromatic Dôle blend. Valais is one of the main growing regions of Pinot noir, and every year prizes are awarded to the best wines during the Pinot Mondial. The local Valais wines are also enthusiastically complimented by international wine connoisseurs here. Wines from eastern Switzerland are no less popular. The canton of Schaffhausen takes pride in styling itself “Blauburgunderland” – the land of Pinot noir. Other important growing regions can be found in the cantons of Geneva and Neuchâtel.

The Pinot noir variety in Germany

The foremost vineyards for this red grape are found in Baden, on the Ahr river and in the Palatinate. There is also a scattering of plantings in Rheinhessen and on the shores of Lake Constance. Wines from here labelled Clevner, Spätburgunder or Blauburgunder generally indicate top-quality, extract-rich wines. The grape is usually vinified dry in Germany with a lengthy maceration contact time. Many also go on to be perfected by barrique-ageing. In the Rheingau, superior-quality Beerenauslese wines are a rarity that fetch high prices.

Italian variants

Pinot nero – as it is called in Italian – is especially popular in South Tyrol, Piedmont, Lombardy and the Aosta Valley. These regions also produce many first-rate wines that regularly score well in competitions.

Pinot noir wines from Austria

Burgenland is the Austrian capital of Pinot noir winemaking. In particular the vineyards in the Lake Neusiedl and Mittelburgenland winegrowing regions are notable. The Thermenregion in Lower Austria has plantings as well. Austrian Blauburgunder – as the grape is called there – tends to be dry and is often barrique-aged.

Pinot noir wines from Moldova

The Moldovan wine region has potential. Moldovans began cultivating Pinot noir already in the 19th century. However, Pinot noir has yet to regain the former levels of quality there. Its oaky notes are often overly prominent.

Pinot noir wines made in the USA

The USA is a rising star in the production of Pinot noir wines. The grape now covers a total of some 16,676 hectares. It is the most planted grape variety in California by a long margin, and the trend is still upwards. The demanding grape thrives there thanks to the mild climate.

New Zealand vineyards

Pinot noir is also increasingly finding fans on the other side of the world. It is one of the few grape varieties suited to cooler regions such as those found in New Zealand. The winemakers of Central Otago, Canterbury, Martinborough and Marlborough in particular have capitalized on this.The global diversity on offer is huge. Keen to try some out? Buy Pinot noir wines from all over the world at Mondovino’s online shop or in our Coop stores.