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Grape Varietals: The Allure of Pinot Noir

Grape Varietals


Find out everything you need to know about this charismatic grape.

pinot noir

Find out everything you need to know about this charismatic grape.

Find out everything you need to know about this charismatic grape.

To celebrate the upcoming National Pinot Noir Day on the 18th of August, we've put together a simple guide on this grape, from its origins and taste to the best food to enjoy with it.

Pinot Noir [Pee-noh N'wahr]

Origin: Burgundy, France

Berry Skin Colour: Almost black, with blue hues.

Taste: Fruit forward - Forest fruits, Cherry, Strawberry, Redcurrants. Other Notes - Vanilla, Forest floor, Clove, Liquorice, Gamey.

Five Facts about Pinot Noir

  • The name Pinot Noir comes from the French words for pine and black. The word pine refers to the grape clusters which are pine cone-shaped, and noir means black.

  • Pinot Noir is one of the oldest varieties of grapes world wide - it was first planted by monks in Roman times (over 1,000 years before Cabernet Sauvignon was widely planted!)

  • Pinot Noir grapes are notoriously difficult to grow because of their thin skins and tight bunches. Their thin skin makes them more susceptible to temperature fluctuation and sunburn, and the tight-knit bunches make them prone to mildew and disease in humid conditions.

  • It might be a red grape, but it is the main grape varietal used in making Champagne and sparkling wines!

  • Pinot Gris/Grigio and Pinot Blanc are simply colour mutations of the Pinot Noir Grape.

What is Pinot Noir?

Pinot Noir is widely considered to produce some of the finest wines and Champagnes in the world, and is often referred to as the holy grail of grapes. Although its roots lie in the traditional wine-making region of Burgundy, this grape is now grown all over the world. Pinot Noir reaches its highest peak of expression in cooler climates, and therefore flourishes in its Burgundian home, particularly the Cote D'or region, and the Gevrey-Chambertin and Nuits-Saint-Georges communes. Depending on the characteristics of the soil, climate and terroir, Pinot Noir can take on a myriad of styles - it is known as a wine that can take on a true reflection of the place in which it is grown. For example, traditional Burgundian Pinot Noir's tend to be lighter in colour with more earthy undertones of mushrooms and wet leaves than their counterparts from the New World. Pinot Noirs from Australia, New Zealand and the USA have a fruitier direction with less acidity and higher alcohol. The most famous regions known for production of reputable Pinot Noir wines include Cote D'or in Burgundy, the Willamette Valley in Oregon, Marlborough in New Zealand, Elgin and Walker Bay in South Africa and the Adelaide Hills and Yarra Valley in Australia.

Most importantly, how does it taste?

Pinot Noir is one of the most compelling wines worldwide, seducing both the novice and well-versed of wine enthusiasts whilst capturing the attention of global winemakers with its graceful, layered character. It is one of the most fickle wines, developing a number of flavour profiles depending on where it is grown and the vintage - perhaps this is part of its charm. It is heavily perfumed and carries a variety of sensual aromas based on red berry characters (raspberry, cherry) and tinged with herbaceous, earthy and warm spice such as clove. As Pinot Noir matures in the bottle it evolves into a bouquet reminiscent of truffles, game and liquorice and develops an attractive silky texture.

Food Pairings

Pinot Noir is one of the food-friendliest red wines due to its versatility.

Light bodied Pinot Noir wines pair well with charcuterie, delicate cheeses, mushrooms and spring vegetables. 

Fruitier Pinot Noir wines pair well with salmon (or other fatty fish), roasted chicken, barbecues and pasta dishes.

Rich and fuller bodied Pinot Noir wines pair well with beef, lamb, game such as venison and duck, and typically rustic dishes like cassoulet and beef bourguignon.

Eilidh Jack

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