We look into the history of pinot noir, including its origins, taste & where to find the best pinot noir wines, and the regions and countries that produce the best examples... Detours on Vosne-Romanée, Gevrey-Chambertin, Chambolle-Musigny, New Zealand pinot, Sonoma pinot, and more!
Learn how to identify pinot noir and the best ways to buy pinot noir...
Hello, bonjour, and welcome to your new Bonner Private Wines video. Today, we're continuing our exploration of the best wine types in the world to give you some more essential wine knowledge that will allow you to navigate the wine aisles of your local wine shop with great ease. So let's go on with one of my personal favorites, and I'm sure many of you love it too, we're going to be talking about Pinot Noir. So let's dig in and learn a little more about this grape of French origins. Let's go.
My fellow wine loving friends, Julian here. Before we get started with the video, there is something that you have to know about. This video was made possible by the Bonner Private Wine Partnership. And the reason I work with them is not just because it's been called the most unique wine club in America, but because they truly love the wines that they choose for you.
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But for now, back to your video. With such a French sounding name, Pinot Noir, I'm sure you've guessed, though, we are talking here about a grape coming from where I live, France. Yes, that's correct. By the way, a couple of details before we dig deeper, just to make sure you are confident with the way you say Pinot Noir.
How do you say Pinot Noir correctly? Well, in French we say Pinot Noir, but it's fine in English or American, obviously, to say just simply Pinot noir, as long as you do not pronounce the T at the end of Pinot. So do not say Pinot Noir for sure. Then yes, Pinot Noir is a type of grape that the wine is made from.
And this type of grape came from France, where it was selected, refined, perfected in the Burgundy wine region of France. You have to know and remember that again, Burgundy is a rather cold area, one of the coldest wine regions in France. In fact, almost as cold as champagne, where, yes, pinot noir is grown as well. But we will get back to this in a minute when we talk about where the best wines from Pinot Noir are made all around the world.
Pinot Noir, you have to remember, it grows under those relatively cool elements, unlike merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, that like warmer weather for those grapes. So in Burgundy, it was the Benedictine monks who perfected the grape. They were religious people and they used the wine for their rituals. And they adored, absolutely adored Pinot Noir. We are talking of the origin of Pinot Noir somewhere roughly around the year 1000 A.C., deep into the Middle Ages.
So we're talking here about one of the most ancient type of wine grapes that is still in use today. Cabernet Sauvignon, as a comparison, didn't came about until the 17th century or so. Back then, the monks went to great lengths to find the absolute best vineyard sites in Burgundy, the grand crus and premiere crus. And that's because for centuries, Pinot Noir was served to the Kings of France or even the pope when he was in France, in Avignon.
So Pinot Noir is an ancient and very noble grape, but what does it actually taste like? You may be wondering. Well, let's dig into it.
So because Pinot Noir grows in cool climates, as we mentioned before, the grape doesn't get overly rich or heavy and the wines don't either. The alcohol level of Pinot Noir are generally lower than for bigger wines, like the Cabernets or the Zinfandel. Pinots have less tannins as well and a bit less body. They are lighter in style, more vibrant as well, and more acidic, just a little more, say arial, than most other wines, which is also why it's much more… it's very appreciated by many.
Now, the typical flavors and aromas of Pinot Noir are in the spectrum of acidic red berry fruits. Clearly, the term that everyone uses for Pinot, which is the one that you should remember, if there is one takeaway from this video, this term is “griotte”. Or it's fine to just say — it is the French term for saying — sour cherry.
Virtually all Pinots have this “griotte” sour cherry character. So keep it in mind if you want to impress your friends next time you are having your next Pinot Noir wine. But you will find some other red berries obviously, like fresh strawberry or raspberry blueberries or red currant. Often you'll also find hints of floral aromas like Rose Petal and Violet in some spices and herbs like white pepper, juniper, peppermint.
Finally, as Pinot Noir ages and evolves in time in your cellar, just like this 99 grand cru Clos de Vougeot Well, Pinot Noir takes on some savory notes, Aussie characters of Truffle or what we love to call Forest Floor. So when you taste an old Pinot Noir wine, you're not only taking your imagination through the fields of delicate red berries, but also through a foggy and wet forest in a cold morning.
It can really be absolutely a splendid experience because he has been on all wines. The good ones at least, can age superbly well for decades and decades sometimes. But then where do you find the best Pinot Noir wines around the world? Well, let's go and have a look exactly into that. Why do I mention Sideways? Well, sideways is probably the most popular wine focused movie of all time.
So if you haven't watched it yet, we'll take a look at it as it is pretty fun. It features two friends who take a road trip through the Santa Ynez Valley of California. Miles is a pinot enthusiast, and he slowly converts his friend Jack, who was more of a merlot lover. And he teaches him to love the lighter pinot noir styles.
The movie came out in 2005 and many credited for boosting the popularity of Pinot Noir around the world and also the decline of Merlot in the US in particular. Even though I personally worked at a winery in California back in 2002, Chateau Saint-Jean, and back then they had already seen the trend coming off Pinot Noir growing, and that was before the movie.
So anyhow, before the early 2000, let's say, there wasn't at all much Pinot Noir wine that was produced around the world outside of Burgundy, a little bit around Burgundy in Europe, like in Alsace, in Germany, Switzerland or Italy, those close by areas, but not a lot. Since, though, the grape has gone completely mainstream, almost viral in the world of wine could be said as it's produced virtually everywhere it's suitable to do so.
In Burgundy, the best Pinot Noir has come from what is called the Côte d’Or area around the city of Beaune. Beautiful city, by the way. There you'll find the names of prestigious wine villages that are synonymous with the best and most expensive pinot noir in the world. Like Vosne-Romanée, Pommard, Gevrey-Chambertain or Chambolle-Musigny.
Now you have to know the grand cru Pinot Noirs from Burgundy are some of the rarest, the most demanded, the most expensive wines in the world as well, with prices easily reaching north of $1,000 a bottle. Yes, outside of Burgundy, you have to go in cooler parts of California to find good pinot noir wines, like some parts of the Sonoma County, the Russian River Valley or the Sonoma Coast, but also the Central Coast, like Santa Barbara or Santa Ynez Valley, for example, places like Napa Valley or Central Coast or Central Valley of California are just a little too warm for this.
Then in Oregon and Washington State, yes, you will find some delicious fine pinot noir that I do definitely recommend you investigate and dig into. If you want to go a little bit deeper now, you will have fantastic Pinot Noir wines in New Zealand and I'll leave there, I can tell you. So go for the Central Otago or Martin Bro once more than the Marlborough once if you can.
And finally, some very interesting pinot noir comes out of the south end of the America or South American continent, I should say, America as a continent. Then that's on both sides of the continent, on the very end in Patagonia, on the Chilean side and Argentine side. Now, of course, I mentioned it before, Pinot Noir is excellent and is fantastic for making or into the blend of champagne wines.
Now, if you are wondering about which wine glass and why, I do have to separate glasses of wine glasses for tasting Pinot Noir. If you are tasting or, let's say, more affordable, fruity, a young style of Pinot Noir, wine, any wine tasting glass, just the Bordeaux style. This is called the Bordeaux shape of wine glass. This will go well with fruity, approachable, young Pinot Noir wine.
If you are tasting a bigger, richer, more expensive, more powerful, more concentrated and all that type of Pinot Noir wine, well, go for that burgundy shape. Yes, this is a shape of big, bold type of wine glass that is called a burgundy shape type of wine glass. And, you know, that's for tasting Pinot Noir wines. But the big ones, the old ones, preferably, and I'll leave it here for today.
I hope we've covered everything that you should know about Pinot Noir wine, and I will see you soon. In the wonderful world of wine. Au revoir.