Wine of Royalty: Pinot Noir
One of the world’s noblest varieties, Pinot Noir makes the great red Burgundies of France and recently has taken the world by storm from regions such as Oregon, California’s cooler regions, New Zealand, and other cooler regions of the world. The problems with Pinot Noir are numerous, including the fact that it is a difficult variety to ripen properly, and is best in colder regions, where it struggles. But when it is made from great fruit, the wine is a stellar and dramatic accompaniment to lighter meat dishes and seems to age nicely for 10-20 years.
Plant Pinot Noir in:
This is an early to mid-season ripener. When it is picked late, the varietal character dissipates.
Best Climate Regions:
Cool to cold.
The vine is moderately vigorous and at its best is a modest producer.
Pinot Noir Clusters:
Can be very erratic; some older vines give large clusters, but most recent clones give smaller bunches with varying berry sizes.
Countries where Pinot Noir grows well:
Burgundy is the No. 1 place in the world and its best wines are sublime and take a long time in the cellar to develop. It also does well in all cold regions. Northern California, Oregon, and New Zealand produce world-class examples of this wine.
Importance to the world scene:
The impact of Pinot Noir is huge. It is rated to be the wine of kings and is highly prized. The best are usually made in tiny amounts.
Medium to lighter in weight (Côtes de Nuits from France are a bit darker and weightier than are the wines of the Côtes de Beaune).
Style of wine made recently (non-classic versions):
Far too many new world producers are making alcoholic, heavier and somewhat more forceful Pinot Noirs.
Mainly it is region-based. Wine from Santa Lucia Highlands is usually so well-regarded that even mediocre examples can sell. Russian River Valley and the Sonoma Coast in northern California are also highly prized growing regions.
Aging of Pinot Noir:
There is huge potential for 4-8 years from the vintage. But few wines are made to last more than 20 years.