Introduction to Pinot Noir

A firm favourite of red wine drinkers, Pinot Noir may be synonymous with the Burgundy region of France but that doesn’t mean this grape didn’t get the exportation memo of globalization. You’ll find pinot noir from Oregon to Oceania; basically anywhere that vines grow! Hugely versatile and seductive, you’re sure to find an overwhelming charisma within every sip. Don’t be fooled though - Pinot Noir can be a difficult variety to nail, so follow our advice to let us find your perfect bottle from our hand-picked selection.

Pinot noir is a pretty magical grape. It is a mouthful of contradictions, and yet creates the most harmonious of wines. However, this ‘minx of a vine’ can prove difficult to cultivate; the grape is thin-skinned, leaving it sensitive to any shifts in climate or environment, from frost and wind to infections and rot. Furthermore, this variety continues to rapidly mutate, providing a challenge for winemakers to keep up with its shape-shifting ways.

Now, let’s delve into the history of this eponymous variety. Finding its origins in the French region of Burgundy, it gets its name from the pinecone-shaped bunches that it grows in; ‘pinot noir’ directly translates to ‘black pine’! Despite being famously difficult to cultivate and to work with, Pinot grows happily in a multitude of environments, which explains how it is now found all over the world, both old and new. In France, Pinot Noir is velvety and rich, developing intriguing herbal notes of undergrowth and earth as it ages. Elsewhere in Europe, the wine tends to be lighter-bodied, with juicy cherry notes taking the stage. Within the New World, the cooler zones of the northwestern USA, Chile and New Zealand provide the best growing conditions for this volatile variety. Here, you’ll taste notes of ripe fruit and a smooth, silky palate, forgoing the typically European herbacity.

Simultaneously silky and powerful, light and full-bodied, complex and crisp - on the astroenological chart, it is definitely a Gemini! Moreover, this variety is constantly evolving. It continually confuses tasters due to the extremely wide range of bouquets and palates it can produce! When Pinot is young, the smell and taste of berries, cherries and blackcurrant waft through our nostrils and slip over our tongue. However, as the wine ages, it takes on powerful notes of undergrowth, leather, truffle and game. The aromas transform from a light, fruity delight to powerful woodland delicacy.

When it comes to pairing, Pinot is deliciously versatile. Mushrooms, barbecue pork ribs, roast turkey, cheese; this grape variety has it all and goes with almost anything. It is the main headliner and has no need for an opening act. With gamey notes dancing alongside sweet berry notes, Pinot Noir may be your perfect Thanksgiving or Christmas companion; the richness of roast turkey and sweet tanginess of cranberry sauce are a match made in heaven for your chosen bottle of Pinot! It’s also a surefire counterpart to a charcuterie platter - the acidity of the wine cuts the delicious richness of the cured meats and cheeses, while the berry notes are amplified by the saltiness. Alone or with a culinary partner, Pinot Noir is always guaranteed to steal the show.

Have we piqued your interest? Browse a selection of our favourite Pinot Noir wines here.