A Wine Cellar guide to Pinot Noir
Made well, Pinot Noir is one of the most captivating and complex of wines. Growing this fickle, low-cropping variety is extremely challenging, even infuriating, as the thin skins are particularly sensitive to temperature fluctuation and the grapes are susceptible to sunburn, rot, fungus and mildew.
Burgundy is home to the world’s best Pinot Noirs. The region’s cool climate and limestone-based soils are perfectly suited to the production of Pinot and the best examples have grip, complexity and intense, pure fruit. Typically lighter in colour and tannins with fresh acidity, Pinots are loaded with red fruits such as raspberries and cherries, often developing savoury notes of wild mushroom, cured meats and forest floor as they age. Many New World regions are also capable of producing quality Pinots, including Central Otago, Oregon and California. South Africa’s finest bottlings tend to be produced in cooler climate regions such as Hemel en Aarde and Elgin.
As well as producing profound still wines, Pinot Noir is also important in the production of Champagne and sparkling wines. Though it can be bottled alone as a blanc de noirs, it is frequently blended with Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier.