Pinot Noir is a red wine with a relatively light body and is commonly pale in colour. Its fruit-led profile is often dominated by fresh cherry and raspberry flavours with subtle savoury spice when aged in oak. Even though it is deeply rooted in its home in Burgundy, new world winemakers in Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa and the US are producing superb Pinots.
What is Pinot Noir about?
The one word that describes Pinot Noir best is “delicacy.” Not only regarding its flavours, poise and character but also for being somewhat fragile and difficult to grow.
Pinot Noir grapes have a thin skin that makes them particularly sensitive to climate and soil conditions. On the one hand, it is an early ripening, so it is unsuitable for heat and intense sun exposure. On the other hand, it struggles with autumn rains. Most winegrowers will agree Pinot is not easy to handle, but it is still worth the effort.
Did you know? Where there’s Pinot Noir, there’s Chardonnay.
Chardonnay is genetically related to Pinot Noir, and similarly, they benefit from cool climates like Burgundy, Oregon, and New Zealand.
What does Pinot taste like?
Pinot Noir is often light to medium-bodied, with moderate to high bright acidity and fine-grained tannins. Also, it is one of the most perfumed red grapes, delivering a wide range of aromatics, from freshly picked red berries (raspberry, strawberry) to ripe cherries and black fruit. Also, it often shows floral notes, with hints of roses and violets.
Planted in cool regions that enable a slow ripening, it can develop a herbal and minty character. The fruit profile is more generous and ripe in sunnier conditions, often delivering overripe dark berries and even a jammy profile in the hottest climates.
Different winemaking techniques can also affect the wine profile. While hands-off winemakers aim for fruit purity, refined tannins and delicacy, other producers might rely on whole bunch inclusion, more extractive winemaking and toasted oak to deliver richer, bolder styles.
As Pinot matures in the bottle, tannins soften, and its texture gets silkier. The tertiary character could add extra layers of mushrooms, undergrowth, and leather.
Pinot Noir and food
Pinot Noir is a rather gastronomic wine, matching an infinity of dishes. Have you ever heard that rule about white wines going with fish and red wines going with reds? Pinot Noir is the right wine to prove it wrong. It is light-bodied and bright on the palate so it can go great with fish like salmon. At the same time, it is complex and layered enough to hold up to some richer meat and heavier dishes. Its versatility makes it the perfect restaurant wine to make every guest happy.
Need more pairing ideas for Pinot Noir?
Think of Duck! The acidity in Pinot will cut through Duck’s fat and gamey flavours, making up for the perfect combination. If cooking something mushroomy, like risotto or portobello burgers, their earthiness will always balance the freshness and fruitiness of Pinot. If ordering white Pizza, expect the bright acidity to match the cheese’s creaminess and the dough’s yeasty flavours.