Native to France, Pinot Noir thrives in cool climates and chalky or clay soils. Pinot buds and ripens early, making it susceptible to frost early in the season and not well-suited for warmer climates. Pinot Noir is prolific, in that it is estimated to have upwards of 1,000 clones and several mutations, with Pinot Gris/Grigio and Pinot Blanc being perhaps the most popular.
Out of the bottle, Pinot Noir can fall somewhere between a lighter-bodied wine exhibiting simple fruit flavors and a complex wine that presents silky, supple tannins and a multitude of flavor profiles including organic (mushroom, earth, “barnyard”), fruit (strawberry, cherry, plum), or exotic spices and woods.
Like that fiery redhead you met on your spring break trip after your sophomore year of college, Pinot Noir is a fickle mistress. There’s usually something to like about it, but if it doesn’t come together right, it’ll put a hurtin’ on you. Between the varietal’s growing and fermentation needs, it is perhaps the most difficult wine to master. Aside from Burgundy, world-class Pinot Noir is also being made in California and Oregon.