In celebration of International Pinot Noir Day we are exploring the story of this charismatic grape variety, showcasing its exceptional diversity and spotlighting the rich variety of wines that it can produce...
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. It is one of the oldest grape varieties and takes its name from the French words ‘pine’, which indicates the conic shape of the clusters of grapes, and ‘black’, which refers to the dark colour of the fruit. The Burgundy region in France is home to this grape variety, however the origins of Pinot Noir are traced back to the Ancient Romans, considered among the first to start cultivating and producing Pinot Noir. Currently, Pinot Noir is grown worldwide with major Pinot Noir wine producers located in many countries around the globe.
Pinot Noir’s distinctive feature is its mutating nature, due to its age. The grapes are believed to have been existing for more than 2000 years, resulting in Pinot Noir altering over the centuries. Currently, there are sixteen known Pinot Noir grape varieties; for instance, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris are two variations of Pinot Noir. Additionally, Pinot Noir is highly challenging to grow and produce, and its flavour is highly dependent on the different locations, climates and soils in which it is grown. These elements have an impressive influence on the final liquid which 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.
Pinot Noir is peculiar as it is used for the production of many wine varieties, including red, sparkling and even white wines. The versatility of Pinot Noir is undoubtedly what makes it 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 - this is part of its charm
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. While the ideal climate for Pinot Noir is cool and dry weather and stony soil, typical of the Burgundy region, this grape variety is one of the most planted in the world and can be grown in areas characterised by cooler climates, with sun rather than heat.
As well as climate and location, cultivation is significantly challenging when it comes to Pinot Noir. The conic shape of grapes results in tight clusters that are very exposed to viticultural hazards, like wind and hail. Pinot Noir is known among wine producers to be extremely susceptible to wine diseases and fungus, therefore extraordinary care is needed throughout the growing process of grapes.
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. The most expensive and popular Pinot Noir is found in it's natural home of Burgundy, with top wine producers including legendary names such as Domaine Romanee Conti, Henri Jayer, Roumier and Leroy. In fact, Burgundian Pinot Noir has pinched the top three spots on Wine-Seacher's "Most Expensive Wines Of The World" list at the time of writing. Pinot Noir from the US is typically characterised by a higher intensity and alcohol percentage while New Zealand expressions are ordered for their light and fresh flavoured Pinot Noir wines. The maritime Australian climate is ideal for slow ripening and rich, fruity and high alcohol Pinot Noir.
Pinot Noir is one of the most coveted and collected wine varietals the world over due to its broad spectrum of flavours and varieties, making it the ideal wine for any occasion. Our monthly auctions regularly feature a stunning selection of diverse Pinot Noir expressions to be explored.