Pinot Noir is strongly associated with Burgundy, but the roots of this grape variety are found in north-eastern France. The excellent red wines made in Burgundy from Pinot Noir grapes have contributed strongly to the region’s fame throughout the world.
Bunches of Pinot Noir grapes are small and compact; they resemble a pine cone, and that is how the variety got its name. Fine and light, with subtle aromas, wines made from Pinot Noir grapes have a clear, luminous robe. The vast aromatic palette of this grape expresses all the richness of its terroir: young red fruit aromas (black currant, cherry, etc.) and spices (pepper, cinnamon) as well as riper animal notes (leather, fur) and hints of undergrowth (mushrooms, truffles).
The soft, well-defined tannins in this wine seduce the palate instead of besieging it. Pinot Noir provides a perfect balance between power and finesse. Lively and delicate, it pairs wonderfully with elegant fish dishes.
It is not surprising that Pinot Noir flourishes in Burgundy: the local climate provides ideal conditions for cultivating a grape variety with a late and long growing cycle. It can thus perfectly espouse the terroir in which it is planted and bring out all its qualities.
Different expressions of Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir’s development is inextricably linked to human history: Romans were the first to cultivate the grapes they found growing wild; the vineyards of Burgundy and the Champagne region were laid out in the Middle Ages by the monks of Cluny; and the last four dukes of Burgundy helped make Pinot Noir great.
As early as the 15th century, Pinot Noir was planted in regions with a Germanic influence (Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Alsace, Romania, Belgium, etc.) where it expressed itself differently. In Germany, a light, easy-to-drink Pinot Noir with subtle red fruit and spice notes, and a perfect balance between sweetness and acidity, is much appreciated. Emigration from Germanic countries was in fact what first took Pinot Noir to young wine-producing countries such as Australia and the United States.
Photo credits: BIVB