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Pinot Noir, A Quick Guide

Pinot Noir is a French wine grape and one of the most popular varietals worldwide. Few grapes produce wines with such elegance and finesse, and it’s because Pinot Noir wines have powdery, barely noticeable tannins.

Every winemaker dreams about making Pinot Noir. The grape variety reflects its terroir beautifully, primarily when grown with organic or biodynamic practices. Pinot Noir is a noble, cool climate varietal that often offers aromas reminiscent of black cherry, red fruit, red berry, cranberry, and forest floor. The best Pinot Noir also has high acidity and minerality. Pinot is compatible with French oak, too!

And although the grape doesn’t grow in any wine region, it is the source of world-class red wine, rosé, and, yes, even white wine, in rare cases, such as when making sparkling wine. Let’s explore Pinot Noir’s best sources in the old and new world, every region and appellation.

Pinot Noir in the Old World

Although you’ll find extraordinary Pinot Noir in several cold spots in Europe, including Germany and Northern Italy, the finest source is in Bourgogne/Burgundy where it shares the spotlight with Chardonnay.

Every Domaine in Burgundy treats Pinot differently, from the vineyard to the fermentation vats. Still, the best examples come from Cru vineyards, often in the prestigious Côte de Nuits, such as Gevrey-Chambertin. It’s no surprise that some of the most famous food pairings for Pinot Noir are Burgundian specialties — Boeuf bourguignon, anyone?

Pinot Noir also grows successfully in the Loire Valley and is a critical ingredient of Champagne.

Pinot Noir in the New World

Pinot Noir found a new home in the New World. The finest examples come from either Chile or the USA. Of course, Pinot from Marlborough, New Zealand, is also top-notch, but let’s focus on America.

California Pinot Noir is riper and fruitier than its European counterparts. The grape grows successfully in California, mainly in Sonoma County, specifically in the Sonoma Coast AVA which sits close to the Pacific oceans and benefits from cool nights.

Pinot Noir grows in Napa Valley and the colder Carneros in the south. Although you’ll find Pinot from the Russian River Valley to the northern Anderson Valley, two spots in the USA are producing the most exciting Pinot: the Willamette Valley in Oregon, and the AVAs on the Central Coast, in Santa Barbara and Sta Rita Hills.

Pinot Noir in Chile is also an up-and-coming wine. Chile has many microclimates, and in the Curico Valley, where Mai Vino’s Pinot Noir comes from, the vineyard sits at the base of the Andes Mountain. This cool climate paired with fertile soil that is rich in volcanic basalt and limestone keeps the soil cold and allows the Pinot Noir to ripen perfectly. 

Pinot Noir, A Noble Varietal

Pinot is a finicky grape that needs a climate that is warm but not too warm and cold, but not too cold. It has thin skin, so must be handled with great care. Only the most committed grape growers and winemakers worldwide can tend such delicate vine. The result is well worth it — wines made with Pinot are tasty and decadent.

If you want to taste a rewarding expression of the noble varietal, try Mai Vino Pinot Noir, made with 100% organic grapes grown in the famous Curicó Valley in Chile. We package our vegan-friendly, single-origin wine in eco-friendly pouches that will allow you to enjoy your wine for weeks after opening. Treat your Pinot Noir right, and it will take care of you.