Pinot Noir is the red grape variety par excellence of Burgundy France. In fact, Pinot Noir has made this French wine region one of the most famous in the world of wine.
Nowadays, Pinot Noir is one of the varieties that have traveled the most outside its original borders. Thus, it is adapted in different wine regions, especially in the cold ones.
The Pinot Noir grape
Pinot Noir is one of the star varieties worldwide and its best examples are mainly found in Burgundy, although it can also be found in continental regions, at high altitudes or cold regions with maritime influences.
It is a very versatile grape variety, as it is one of the few red grapes used not only in red wine, but also in rosé, white and sparkling wine.
With a thin skin and low tannin content, this grape variety offers elegant and light wines, with a soft ruby color and very easy to drink.
Characteristics of the Pinot Noir grape
The best examples of Pinot Noir, made mainly in Burgundy, show different characteristics depending on the terroir from which the grape originates. Its early ripening means that only the cooler regions can provide a long enough growing season to produce interesting wines.
Pinot Noir grapes have early budding and ripening, which makes them susceptible to spring frosts and acariosis. It adapts well to temperate climates and clay-limestone soils. In warm climates, Pinot Noir ripens very quickly and sensitive berries tend to be subject to sunburn.
It is recommended to restrict yields and fertility, especially when clones are productive.
Pinot Noir tends to produce many small clusters, is delicate and susceptible to powdery mildew, downy mildew, botrytis cinerea, cicadellid insects and grapevine short internode virus (xiphinema index and closterovirus).
Where are Pinot Noir wine produced?
Away from Burgundy, the most reputed regions for the successful production of Pinot Noir wines are: continental (Jura, parts of Germany, Switzerland and Canada); low latitude (New Zealand, Tasmania and Patagonia); high altitude (Alto Adige); or cold with maritime influences (Oregon, Sonoma, Carneros, Monterey, the Central Coast of California, the emerging Chilean coastal regions and sub zones of Victoria and Tasmania in Australia).
Spain is a very hot country for growing delicate Pinot Noir. Some interesting examples come from high altitude vineyards such as Escoda Sanahuja in Conca de Barberà.
Pinot Noir wines
Pinot Noir grapes are lightly pressed to produce a pale pink juice with an absence of aggressive tannins. In this sense, unlike the aggressive tannins of Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir wines are relatively soft, fruity and easy to please.
Burgundy's excellent Grand Cru red wines can be harsh in their youth and need a decade or two to develop complexity but, in general, they are wines to fall in love with.
When Pinot Noir wines are young, they can taste of cherries, raspberries and a wide range of red fruits. As the wines age we find aromas of compost, moss, truffle and mushrooms, but always with an underlying and appealing sweetness.
Other types of wines can also be made with Pinot Noir, such as sparkling wines: in Champagne, Pinot Noir (along with Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay) is a key ingredient. In fact, in the Champagne region there are more Pinot Noir plantations cultivated than in Burgundy.
Spanish Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir originates from Burgundy and although it has proliferated in many countries.
In the vineyards, Pinot Noir is sensitive to wind, frost, the level of bud break (it must have low yields to produce a quality wine), soil type and pruning techniques.
In winemaking, it is sensitive to fermentation methods, yeast strains and reflects very well the terroir in which it is found, producing very different wines depending on the region.
Its thin skin makes it susceptible to rot (botrytis cinerea) and similar fungal bunch diseases. The vines are susceptible to downy mildew and, in Burgundy (and elsewhere), to leaf rust and fanlief infection.
These complications have given this grape the reputation of being difficult to cultivate, a reputation that has been hard earned, as testimonies from many winemakers from different areas of our country agree on its difficulty.
However, some have been brave and have produced single varietals that reach a more than correct and optimum level in many cases. Some wineries have also taken risks and have created magnificent red blends with Spanish grapes such as Tempranillo.
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