The great grape of red burgundy, now producing wonderful wines across Australia, New Zealand and the USA amongst others. A winemaker’s nightmare, when Pinot is on form no variety can match that combinataion of elegance, perfume and finesse.
Pinot Noir is one of the toughest grape varieties to grow. It is also one of the oldest grapes grown for wine making purposes. The Romans called this variety as Helvenacia Minor and it was made into wine in the first century AD. This grape is native to Burgundy, France but it is cultivated in different wine growing regions of the world such as in Australia, Canada, Brazil, UK, Germany, Italy and New Zealand.
The name Pinot Noir means 'pine' and 'black' respectively due to its tight cluster of dark purple grapes. It is the main component in some of the best wines the world over, despite the fact that it is quite hard to cultivate and turn into wine. This grape is closely associated to the finest wines from Burgundy particularly in the hills of Côte d'Or (Slope of Gold) which consistently produce the wine.
The grape variety is very unstable. The grapes from the parent vine usually differ from the grapes produced by its offspring. The difference is mainly noted in the shape, size, flavours, produce and aroma of the berries. There are around 46 genetic variants of the grape in Dijon France alone. The estimated clones are said to be around 200 to 1,000. In comparison, more stable grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon only produce 12 clones. This is the reason why it is hard to attain consistency in all Pinot Noir wines.
Diseases also plague the grapevine, making the cultivation even more difficult. If the berries are not picked immediately once they ripen, they will dry out quickly and shrink leading to raisining and producing a bland taste.
Fermenting of the wine also poses a problem. The 18 amino acids cause it to boil up and spread out of the container. Pinot is also susceptible to acetification which strips off its flavours and scents. It however, contains up to four times higher number of resveratrol which draws health-conscious people to it.
Despite the difficulties, Pinot Noir is greatly sought after due to its distinctive taste which is liken to liquid silk. It caresses the palate and leaves a lasting impression. Its scent can be intense and complex. It is full-bodied and has high alcohol content.