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Pinot Noir (Red) (PEE-no NWAH)
Regions: Pinot Noir is one of the classic and noble wine varietals from Burgundy in France. The red wines of Burgundy (except for those from Beaujolais) are made with 100% Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir is also widely planted in California (particularly in regions like the central coast and the Russian River Valley) and less so in parts of Italy and others.
Characteristics: Arguably the grape capable of the greatest heights, Pinot Noir can be hard to understand because it is also one of the most difficult and finicky grapes to grown and vinify well. It tends to be lighter in body compared to Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah, for example, although this varies considerably. The best examples from Burgundy are truly profound with extreme complexity, finesse, a silky, caressing and seductive mouthfeel and lush and heady aromatics which have made many a wine lover fall head over heals for Burgundy. However, unfortunately these examples are hard to come by and can be extremely expensive. Lesser examples can seem thin and overly acidic or even harsh and green if not ripened well. Specific descriptions can vary tremendously because Pinot Noir is very influenced by where it is grown, tasting like red fruits and flowers in one vineyard and like meat, truffles and black fruits in another. For this reason it is often bottled separately from different small, named vineyards in Burgundy and can be confusing for the wine beginner. Nevertheless, it is a grape that is definitely worth your attention as it can achieve the greatest heights possible in wine, even if they are few and far between.