Varietal 3: Pinot Noir| Part A: Background

Categories:  Dry and Dirty, Fresh and Fruity

Ask any farmer or winemaker which varietal gives them both the biggest headache and the biggest pleasure, and it’s likely you will get Pinot Noir as the answer.  WIth thin, dark skin, this grape is highly susceptible to damage from climates that are too cold or too warm and is an easy target for rot and sunburn.  On the flip side, Pinot Noir is known for creating highly complex wines with great variety and expression of location.  Even for red wine lovers, Pinot Noir can be highly divisive – people either love it or hate it!

Creating paler than typical red wines with garnet tones, typical Pinot Noirs are bright with higher acidity and lower alcohol and bring ripe red fruits from strawberries and raspberries to red cherries.  The grape’s dark skin imparts color yet lower tannin making the varietal extremely food friendly across a broad range of cuisines from seafood to red meat.  Undertones of earthiness, mushrooms and composted leaves add another layer of depths to PInot Noirs from the best locations which often leverage the aging process to create complex, soft and layered wines. 

Unlike Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, Pinot Noir is rarely blended, leveraging the best expression of the varietal to define the wine’s style.  Pinot Noir, as a single varietal wine, is capable of creating tremendously unique styles with a broad variety of flavor and aroma.  We discussed the 3 biggest influences on wine in Module 1 and Pinot Noir is perhaps the best wine to experience these influences.  In addition to the grape variety itself,  “Location, Location, Location” influences are more expressive in Pinot Noir than any other grape varietal DOMSOM will cover.