10 Essential Facts on Pinot Noir

“Pinot Noir, you're a star. Listen to Tom Beren-gar. Pinot Noir. Roseanne Barr,” and so sings Titus Andromedon in one the most memorable moments from the Netflix series “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” Exactly what this has to do with iconic grape variety, I cannot tell you. Yet, one thing is for certain: few grapes captivate the imagination of wine lovers quite like Pinot. It’s the ultimate wine geek’s wine – its intellectual ability to transport a drinker to the precise terroir from which it is born is uncanny. From Burgundy to the Sonoma Coast , Pinot Noir is indeed “a star.” Fall in love with the world’s 10th most planted grape variety through these ten essential facts. 1. According to the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation, Pinot Noir is the 10th most planted wine grape, and the 6th among reds. Particularly prosperous in cooler climates, Pinot Noir can be found growing everywhere from Oltrepò Pavese in Italy’s Lombardy and Germany’s Ahr Valley to Australia’s island of Tasmania and New Zealand’s Central Otago . 2. Pinot Noir is one of the most ancient grape varieties, so much so that its parentage and exact origins remain unknown. Some refer to Pinot as a “founder” variety, one of a handful of grapes so prolific, almost every other variety can trace its ancestry back to this group. Pinot’s descendants include such beloved grapes as Chardonnay , Gamay , Syrah , Chenin Blanc , and Grüner Veltliner . Even Cabernet Sauvignon is believed to be a great-grandchild of Pinot. 3. The etymology of the name “Pinot Noir” conjures debate. Most argue the name derives from “black pine,” as Pinot Noir’s tight clusters to some eyes resemble pinecones. Others have suggested that “Pinot” may stem from the French town “Pignols,” where vine cuttings of Pinot might have been harvested to plant royal vineyards in Medieval times. 4. Pinot Noir? Pinot Meunier ? Pinot Blanc ? Pinot Gris ? Geneticists have discovered that all of these Pinots are actually the same grape variety, simply clonal mutations of one another. This can be observed in the vineyard, when a single Pinot vine can sometimes yield a select few berries whose colors don’t match the rest. 5. The preeminent twentieth century California winemaker André Tchelistcheff once quipped, “God made Cabernet Sauvignon, whereas the Devil made Pinot Noir.” While Pinot Noir enchants with elegantly delicate and complex wines, in the vineyard it is notoriously a total pain – earning the epithet “the heartbreak grape.” Pinot’s small clusters and thin skins make the grape susceptible to a number of vineyard ailments from sunburn to rot. It also doesn’t help that Pinot Noir best grows in marginal climates, where hail and frost can further bring the grape’s growing cycle to a disastrous halt. 6. Pinot Noir finds its spiritual home in Burgundy, the fabled region in Eastern France whose limestone vineyards rank among the wine world’s most hallowed ground. Pinot Noir achieves its apex in the Côte d’Or , where breathtaking wines can command astronomical prices. In fact, according to Cult Wines, the UK wine investment firm, the most expensive bottle of wine on earth is a red Burgundy, Domaine de la Romanée Conti’s Romanée-Conti Grand Cru. Its 1990 vintage reportedly sells for an average £15,702 per bottle. 7. Pinot Noir holds a special place in the hearts of wine lovers for its transcendent ability to communicate a sense of place in its wines. Nowhere is this talent more embraced than Burgundy, where over the course of centuries vignerons have partitioned the region into 1,247 terroirs each with a distinct character as displayed through Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. These “climats” were recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015. 8. Pinot Noir has a second great home in France: Champagne . Along with Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir provides one of the three critical ingredients to the world’s most famous sparkling wine, particularly thriving on the Montagne de Reims. While a key contributor to rosé Champagne , when its grapes are pressed without any further time to macerate on their skins, Pinot Noir can be vinified into a white Champagne. White Champagnes made entirely from red grapes are labeled “Blanc de Noirs.” 9. Pinot Noir can be found in a nearly continuous sweep up California’s coast, from Santa Barbara’s Sta. Rita Hills to Sonoma’s Russian River Valley to Mendocino’s Anderson Valley . The Golden State has proven particularly Pinot crazed in the last two decades, with many pointing to the 2004 film “Sideways” as a catalyst for the grape’s growth. In the years since Paul Giamatti’s character championed the variety, California’s annual tonnage of Pinot crushed has jumped almost fourfold. 10. The United States’ other famous Pinot Noirs grow just north in Oregon. Pinot Noir has driven the Beaver State’s wine boom, ever since David Lett of Eyrie Vineyards first brought the grape to the Willamette Valley in 1965. The French have caught onto Oregon’s potential, with several Burgundy producers investing in Willamette projects, beginning with Maison Joseph Drouhin’s US outlet Domaine Drouhin in 1987. — Bryce Wiatrak Have you ever been captivated by a glass of Pinot Noir? We can’t wait to see you’ve been drinking! Scan the label or search by name to add your tasting notes on Delectable.

Domaine Armand Rousseau

Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru Pinot Noir 2012

Brett Zimmerman
9.2

Tightly wound, but concentrated and full of life. Cinnamon and nutmeg with layers of cherry and raspberry - bien. — 3 years ago

John, Michael and 9 others liked this

Pierre Paillard

Les Maillerettes Acte 1 Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Pinot Noir 2010

Excellent grower Champagne. 100% Pinot Noir grapes exclusively grown on the Paillard family plot in Bouzy. A great combination of freshness and nutiness with an almost creamy mouthfeel. — 2 years ago

Daniel, David and 7 others liked this

Nicolas Jay

Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2015

Comprised of grapes sourced from seven vineyards throughout the Willamette Valley, 35% of which is from the winery's own Bishop Creek Vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA—the 2015 Nicolas Jay Pinot Noir strikes a balance between power and elegance. More red fruited than black, the nose is perfumed with rose hips, underbrush, damp soil, and crushed stone. Texturally, I love what the acid does in this wine, as it builds and crescendos, fanning out towards a finish of nuanced white pepper and mineral splendor. 13.0% ABV | Sample — 2 years ago

A, David and 16 others liked this

Rivers-Marie

Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2016

Shay A
9.3

Another bottle that fell victim to experiment. Couldn’t resist after seeing @Patrick Derdeyn review earlier this week. This is actually my first Rivers-Marie Sonoma Coast Pinot.

I see tons of reviews of people claiming this to be the best QPR Pinot coming out of Cali. Wow, are those people SPOT ON. In the glass at pop and pour, it was very berry focused and acidic. After about 30mins, this was a knockout. Upfront, raspberry/cherry/black cherry on the nose but it fades to almost a meaty/beef jerky note. Never gotten that on a pinot. Great acidity. Orange cream on the palate, alongside cedar, lavender, raspberries and spices. I’ve only got 1 left...crap.
— a year ago

Mark Flesher
with Mark
David, P and 43 others liked this
Shay A

Shay A Influencer Badge Premium Badge

@Patrick Derdeyn : Indeed! It was my first time getting access to purchasing RM pinots, so I bought 1-2 of each to decide how to purchase next year. Easy choice on this one next time!
Isaac Pirolo

Isaac Pirolo Influencer Badge Premium Badge

You’ve got to f’n kidding me... this is your first RMPNSC?!?
Welcome to the show... 😉 😂
TheSkip

TheSkip

I believe one of those people was me 😇

Domaine Michel Lafarge

Volnay Pinot Noir 2012

The 2012 Volnay is in a beautiful state of development where its showing both youthfulness and development; starting of with pronounced primary and charming aromas of crushed strawberries and rose petal aromas, before justifying its origin with the tell tale sobouis characters and finishing of with a defined rocky mineralitiy. Palate is well balanced with fine, velvety, tannins and a broad but fresh midpalate and a long, vibrant finish. — a year ago

Severn liked this

Rhys Vineyards

Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2015

The force is strong with this one. Gravity defying ethereality relative to the immense density of flavor and a mouthfeel that pushes 1,000 thread count. Opens with a wild fruit arrangement of cherry, strawberry, and raspberry that comes through in perfect harmony, followed by grilled tangerine peel and baking spices with an earthy bent. The background is filled with a menagerie of orchard fruit, wildflowers, faint smoke, black tea, and rose hip. The balance and weightlessness are a deceptive precursor to the echo of a noticeably lengthy finish. — 2 years ago

Daniel, P and 19 others liked this

Sandhi Wines

Sanford & Benedict Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2012

2012 vintage. Beautiful nose smells of cherry blossom, and spice box, Volnay like. The mid palate is strikingly fresh, and pure offering tart cherry, candied orange peel, and cranberry. The wine has power and finesse in perfect unison. The fruit tones are very fine tune on the long finish. This is the art of balance. — 4 years ago

Eric liked this

Domaine Berthaut-Gerbet

Vosne-Romanée Pinot Noir 2015

Aromas of bubble gum and violets. Very fresh with lots of acidity. A summery Vosne-Romanée in a side by side comparison with the 2015 Mugneret-Gibourg village. — a year ago

Michael
with Michael

Laurent-Perrier

Cuvée Rosé Brut Champagne Pinot Noir

David T
9.2

Our second favorite NV Rosé Champagne. Nice slightly liqueured black cherries, cherries, ripe strawberries, a blend of black raspberries & raspberries, watermelon, pomegranate juice, pink roses, just the right amount and intensity of chalkiness, saline and baguette with perfect acidity and rich long finish. Not the fruit extraction of Ruinart Rosé and not the sharp fine powdery chalkiness of Billecart-Salmon. Rides the fence of both. Photos of; their beautiful estate, underground cellar (you gotta love those moldy walls & bottles), A-frame racks in the cellar and meticulously manicured vines. Beautiful property! — 2 years ago

Anthony, Shay and 18 others liked this

Failla

Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013

Savory and noteworthy. Dark reddish purple in the glass. Whiffs of bright and fresh berries, coffee and oak accents. Follows through with bright acidity on the sip with concentrated berry flavors and dark cherry. Firm tannic structure for a full ripe finish. — 3 years ago

Anthony, Chris and 9 others liked this
Jeff Dunn

Jeff Dunn

Wonderful place to visit! They do a phenomenal job.