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A tough grape to grow but worth the effort, Pinot Noir

So today, August 18th is International Pinot Noir Day. A celebration of a very old grape with a lot of character.

Pinot Noir originated in Burgundy, France. The words are French and mean Pine Black, which refers to the pinecone shaped clusters of dark purple grapes. It is said that Monks first found this wild grape and began cultivating it in the 14th century. It is one of the six ‘Noble” grapes along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.

Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigo and Pinot Blanc are all color mutations of Pinot Noir with identical DNA. But as you can imagine or know the taste profiles of each are unique.

Pinot Noir is one of the hardest grapes to successfully grow. It is a thin-skinned grape and is fickle about growing conditions. It likes to have a long, cool growing season, be near the coast and have limestone rich soils. This grape is also very vulnerable to diseases and in most place must be handpicked. All this ends up making a Pinot Noir wine more expensive than other varietals.

However, Pinot Noir grapes are grown all over the world and great wines of this varietal comes from France, California, Oregon, Chile, Spain, Australia, South Africa and even Germany, plus many more. The labeling is a bit difficult to know that you in fact have a Pinot Noir. A German Pinot Noir may be labeled Spatburgunder, in Italy it may be labeled a Pinot Nero and in Slovenia it is known as Modri Pinot.

The taste profile varies based on its growing location and the year. Typically, the wines are light to medium bodied with low tannins. It is earthy with spice notes and often has flavors of tobacco and red berries. You can always find a Pinot that will pair with a meal. It is also a wine that most people will enjoy – those big Cabernet drinkers will like it and a white wine Chardonnay lovers will also be OK with it. It is a great wine to take to a party.

Pinot Noir is one of the few grapes that is commonly made into a red, a rose’, a white and a sparkling wine. It also has less sugar in the grape, so can often be lower in alcohol.

So, stop in and pick up a Pinot Noir to enjoy with your meal tonight.


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