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!
WHAT IS 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.
OTHER INTERESTING POINTS
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.
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.