Know Your Pinot Noir

TC Whysall, Sommelier at Red Pump,  has worked tirelessly to refine our wine list to its current award-winning state. In addition to his 20 years’ experience in restaurant and beverage management, TC earned his WSET Level 3 Advanced Certificate and has studied in Argentina, California, Canada, France, Germany, Portugal, and Spain. TC shares his expertise with the Red Pump Kitchen staff in the wine training program, ensuring that our team can find the perfect wine for you on any and every occasion.

Each week, TC spotlights one wine varietal and provides an in-depth examination of the wine’s origins, flavor profile, growing regions, fun facts, and much more. Last week it was Chardonnay, and this week it’s Pinot Noir!


Pinot Noir is the most romanticized red grape/wine in the world and the 10th most planted. One of the reasons Pinot is so loved is that even while being very hard to grow, the result is gorgeous wine.  Because of it’s delicacy, it is particularly subject to frost and hail damage as well as genetic mutation which helps in it’s nickname “The Heartbreak Grape”.  Pinot Noir was born in the Burgundy region of France and there it is called, “Red Burgundy” after the region where it is made instead of the varietal. You will rarely if ever see “Pinot Noir” on a Burgundy label.


Pinot Noir is planted all around the world with some of the most favored varieties coming from France’s Burgundy region, as well as California, Germany, Oregon, Italy, Australia, New Zealand and Chile. Fun fact? Anywhere you find Pinot Noir you will find Chardonnay.


Pinot Noir Characteristics, by region:

  • Burgundy: ripe red berries, sweet black cherries, mushrooms and forest floor (damp leaves).
  • California: notes of black raspberry, black cherry and cola.
  • Oregon: Cranberry, bing cherry, and mushrooms – will sometimes have Syrah or Petit Sirah blended in for a “New World” style.
  • Italy: Cherry, clove, tobacco and white pepper.

Pinot Noir can take on different styles of winemaking, from dry still wines to sparkling wines. Fun fact?  If you see a Champagne label that states Blanc de Noir or “white of black” it means that white wine was made from black grapes.  The two black grapes allowed in Champagne production are Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.  The third grape allowed? The white wine grape Chardonnay.


There are many food pairings that go well with Pinot Noir.  Mushrooms, roasted root vegetables, pork, duck, venison, chicken, salmon, and stewed fruits, just to name a few.  **Remember, thinner cool climate Pinot will go well with lighter dishes while Pinot from warmer climates can stand up to heartier dishes.


Pinot Noir is thought to have been around now for 2,000 years.  Might not seem like much but Cabernet Sauvignon has only been around a few hundred.  Because of it’s age it is considered a ‘grandparent’ to many grapes including Syrah.  Pinot Noir can’t hide anything, it shows it’s terroir and is easily influenced by the environment.   This is why it is rarely blended with other grapes and often done as a “Single Vineyard” (all fruit coming from the same vineyard site).  If Pinot Noir is held in oak barrels, they are usually used barrels and impart little or no additional flavors.  The fruit is just to delicate to stand up to strong oak flavors.

Not surprisingly, France is the largest Pinot Noir producer followed closely by the U.S. and Germany is 3rd.  Fun fact, German Pinot Noir is called Spatburgunder.

Our List:

lundeen ‘mon pere’  13 / 52 

Pinot Noir  |  Willamette Valley, OR  |  2016


Veuve clicquot ‘yellow label’  110

Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay  | Reims, FR  |  NV

Subtle notes of white peach, anise, biscuit and kumquat.


Laherte Freres Ultradition Brut  75

Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir  |  Champagne, FR |  NV

Black raspberry, dried apricot, orange blossom, and honey. Clean-cut and minerally on the finish.

Practicing Organic

gerard bertrand brut rose, “thomas jefferson” cremant de limoux         45                 
Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir  | Limoux, FR  |  2014
Aromas of strawberry and raspberry backed with hints of toasted bread.
charles de cazanove brut rose  80
Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay| Reims, FR | NV
Flavors of dried currant, graphite, green plum and grapefruit zest.
charles de cazanove brut ‘stradivarius’    95
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, | Reims, FR | 2007
Rich and creamy with layers of apple pastry, brioche, and roasted nut with a lightly honeyed finish.
schramsberg, Brut Blanc de Noir  90
Pinot Noir, Chardonnay| Calistoga, CA | 2013
Aromas of pear, peach and apricot followed by flavors of candied grapefruit and lemongrass.
Bollinger “Le Grande Anne”   240   
Pinot Noir Blend | Reims, FR | 2007 W.S. 94
A classic vintage Brut Champagne from one of the Seven Houses of Champagne that is hitting its stride in age. Notes of peach, hazelnut, & dried flowers on the nose and ripe, complex fruit on the palatte.
domaine tollot-beaut chorey-les-beaune  75   
Pinot Noir  |  Cote de Beaune  |  2014
Cherry, raspberry and sweet spice notes. Fresh and juicy, with fine length on the finish.
angela estate ‘Angela vineyard’  65
Pinot Noir  |  Yamhill-Carlton, OR  |  2014
Rose petal, cedar, black currant and cranberry notes.
soter vineyards ‘north valley’  75
Pinot Noir  |  Willamette Valley, OR  |  2015
Blackberry, black cherry and baking spices.
Coeur de terre ‘heritage reserve’  75
Pinot Noir  |  McMinville, OR  |  2013
Earthy aromatics with cherry and raspberry flavors.
domaine de la cÔte ‘BLOOMS FIELD’   119    
Pinot Noir  |  Sta. Rita Hills, CA  |  2015
Boisset charmes grand cru  275   
Pinot Noir | Chambertin, FR | 2006 W.S. 90
A wine borne from the old vines of the Grand Cru
Gevrey-Chambertin’s most shallow slopes in Burgundy. Red cherry, dried rose petals, earth, and fresh tart strawberry are some of the aromas and flavors of the wine.
ankida ridge  69  
Pinot Noir |  Virginia  |  2014
Round black cherry, cassis and ripe strawberry on the nose.