Want to explore all about Pinot Noir before you buy the wines?
Hailing from the Burgundy region of France, Pinot Noir is a hardy grape variety that’s now cultivated all over the world. It's used in making some of the most exceptional wines in the world - loved by novice wine drinkers, sommeliers and wine experts alike!
But what makes Pinot Noir so special? Which wines showcase its fullest expression?
Explore everything about the Pinot Noir - from its winemaking and terroir to its taste, and the best Pinot Noir wines you can buy in 2021!
Also find out the best way to invest in wines, including Pinot Noir.
This Article Contains:
(Click on the links below to go to a specific section)
- All You Need to Know About Pinot Noir
- How Does Pinot Noir Wine Taste?
- Food Pairings and How to Serve Pinot Noir
- Pinot Noir Wine Regions
- Winemaking and Terroir
- More Fun Facts About Pinot Noir!
- The Best Pinot Noir Wines to Buy in 2021
- Domaine Leroy Musigny Grand Cru 2015
- Domaine Leroy Chambertin Grand Cru 2013
- Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Romanee-Conti Grand Cru 2016
- Domaine Georges & Christophe Roumier Musigny Grand Cru 2015
- Henri Jayer Echezeaux Grand Cru 1999
- Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair La Romanee Grand Cru 2015
- Domaine Leroy Richebourg Grand Cru 2009
- Leroy Domaine d'Auvenay Les Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru 2014
- Leroy Domaine d'Auvenay Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru 2013
- Domaine Leroy Romanee-Saint-Vivant Grand Cru 2015
- Domaine Armand Rousseau Pere et Fils Chambertin Grand Cru 2018
All You Need to Know About Pinot Noir
The Pinot Noir grape originated in Burgundy, and Pinot Noir wine is often referred to as red Burgundy.
Pinot Noir is a versatile grape and is used to make red wine, white and sparkling wine - although the whites are rarer to find.
But how did Pinot Noir get its name?
Pinot Noir grape clusters have a conical shape that resembles a pine cone. That’s probably where the name of the grape comes from (in French, pinot means pine cone.)
Another theory is that the grape was named after the French region Pignolis where Pinot Noir has grown since the Middle Ages.
Looking for a festive wine for the upcoming holidays? Check our complete guide on the most delectable Champagnes.
Pinot Noir - One of the Hardest Grapes to Grow
Pinot Noir is grown all over the world in areas with a cooler climate. However, the Pinot Noir vines are sensitive to frost, wind, harsh weather, and vineyard conditions.
The Pinot Noir wine grape is hard to grow since it is prone to many diseases. As the Pinot Noir grapes have very thin skin, they are susceptible to various grape diseases, especially in Burgundy.
But in successful vintages, the Pinot grapes make an elegant and rich wine that brings a flavorful bouquet of aromas with every sip.
That’s why a bottle of fine Pinot Noir can be very expensive.
The Pinot Family
Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Précoce, and Pinot Meunier were once believed to be of the same Pinot family. DNA studies showed that they’re mutations of the Pinot Noir grape variety.
Pinot Noir is also the parent grape of Gamay Noir and Aligote.
This is not surprising because Pinot Noir is an ancient grape varietal around 2,000 years old. So, it must've undergone many mutations over the centuries.
Often, different Pinot vines in a vineyard might have grape bunches with different color mutations, which shows that the Pinot Noir planting is prone to producing clones.
Currently, there are 40 officially classified Pinot Noir clones.
How Does Pinot Noir Wine Taste?
Pinot Noir has a medium body and is a low-tannin wine with a light red color. These flavorful wines have strawberry, raspberry, and cherry tasting notes.
A well-aged Pinot Noir wine develops a more complex, earthy taste with a forest floor flavor profile.
Food Pairings and How to Serve Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir pairs with a variety of foods because it has low tannin levels and higher acidity. You can serve Pinot Noir along with chicken, pork, duck, or savory game meat dishes.
Serve Pinot Noir slightly chilled at a temperature of 12-15 °C.
A younger Pinot Noir wine will probably not need decanting. However, if you want to pop open a 10-year-old Pinot Noir, you should let it breathe for 20-30 minutes, so it develops all the aromas in their full complexity and depth.
If you’re wondering what wine glass to serve your Pinot Noir in, go for a classic Burgundy glass. This large bell-shaped glass captures all the bold aromas, and you can enjoy them for longer.
Pinot Noir Wine Regions
Although originally from France, Pinot Noir grapes are grown worldwide, including Europe, North and South America, and Australia.
The main wine regions are:
Pinot Noir is the signature grape varietal of the Burgundy region (Bourgogne in French) with about 11,000 hectares under cultivation.
However, you’ll find the largest concentration (13,000 hectares) of Pinot Noir grape vines in the Champagne wine region.
Other Pinot Noir regions include Alsace and Sancerre.
2. United States
California is the leading producer of the Pinot Noir wine industry in the US. The wine grape is planted in areas that are cooled down by the Pacific ocean winds.
The most popular California Pinot Noir wine regions are:
- Sonoma County (especially the Russian River Valley appellation)
- Central Coast (including Santa Barbara County and Santa Lucia Highlands)
- Sonoma Coast
- Sta. Rita Hills
- Monterey County
- Southern Napa Valley (especially the Carneros district of Napa and Sonoma)
Oregon is the next biggest producer of Pinot Noir wines. Oregon Pinot Noir cuttings were brought to the state in 1959. The grapes are mostly grown in the Willamette Valley, which, like Burgundy, has a cool climate.
Germany is the third-largest producer of Pinot Noir. The wine is known as Spatburgunder, and Pinot Noir is the most planted red grape in the country.
In Italy, Pinot Noir is known as Pinot Nero. In some regions, the wine is called Blauburgunder (as it is also called in Austria). Pinot Nero is planted in Tuscany, Franciacorta, Pavese, and Oltrepo.
Pinot Noir is produced in many Spanish wine regions, mainly Catalonia. In Spain, Pinot Noir is used in the production of both still wines and Cava sparkling wine.
Examples of Pinot Noir wine regions in Australia are the Southern Highlands, Tasmania, the Canberra district, and Yarra Valley, among others.
7. New Zealand
Pinot Noir is the most planted red grape varietal in New Zealand (over 5,000 hectares.) The grape is grown in Central Otago, Marlborough, and North Canterbury.
8. South Africa
South Africa produces some impressive New World Pinot Noir wines. The main Pinot wine regions are Cape South Coast, Paarl, and Elgin.
Pinot Noir is grown in almost every wine region in Chile - thanks to the cool Pacific winds. Some popular wine regions are Biobio, Aconcagua, and Leyda Valley.
Argentina’s most popular Pinot Noirs come from Mendoza, Patagonia, and Rio Negro, among others.
Pinot Noir Winemaking and Terroir
Pinot Noir is just as hard to handle in winemaking as it is to grow.
Different winemakers use different techniques that significantly affect the kind of Pinot Noir they produce.
Let’s take a look at various aspects of Pinot Noir winemaking:
- Influence of terroir: The Pinot Noir grape vine is deeply influenced by the nuances in terroir.
You’ll find delight expressions of the soil, climate, position of the Pinot Noir vineyard, and altitude in Pinot Noir wines.
So, winemakers are very careful when choosing the location of their vineyard.
- Clones: Some winemakers plant a few Pinot Noir clone varieties to add to the wine’s complexity, while others prefer sticking to one clone.
- Organic grape cultivation: The Pinot Noir grape is very sensitive to external conditions, so many wine producers have turned to organic grape cultivation, avoiding chemical fertilizers.
- Harvest: The winemaker has to decide whether to ferment whole grape bunches or only the grapes. Fermenting the entire grape bunches increases the wine’s tannin levels (since Pinot Noir has very low tannin levels.)
- Fermentation: This happens in open vats where the grape skins are in contact with the grape juice, and the sugar turns into alcohol.
The fermentation temperature is another crucial factor. If the winemaker ferments the grape must at cooler temperatures, the wine has more residual sugar and a fresh, fruity aroma.
- Cold maceration: This is another popular technique in which the winemaker crushes the grapes at temperatures of 4-15 °C. This allows better extraction of color, aroma, and tannin levels.
- Post fermentation: Some winemakers use French oak barrels to age the Pinot Noir. The oak barrels add the flavor and supple tannins to the wine.
Sparkling Wines, Still White and Rosé Wines made with Pinot Noir
We’ve seen that Pinot Noir grapes are also used to produce sparkling and still white wines.
A. Pinot Noir in Sparkling Wine
Pinot Noir is one of the main grape varieties used to make Champagne (along with Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay.)
Pinot Noir also makes excellent unblended sparkling wines called Blanc de Noir, which have rich black and red fruit flavor.
A blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grow in similar conditions and are used to make sparkling wine. In fact, Chardonnay is a cross between Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc.
B. Pinot Noir in Still White Wine and Rosé Wine
Winemakers use Pinot Noir in some still white wines. For example, many Italian wine regions use the grape variety in their white wine blends.
These rare white wines are usually rich and very aromatic.
Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio, and Pinot Blanc are also used in white wines. However, they make lighter wine with less complexity and flavor than the Pinot Noir blends.
Pinot Noir grapes are also used to create beautiful floral Rosés with bright acidity.
More Fun Facts About Pinot Noir!
1. Pinot Noir is Among the Oldest Grape Varietals in the World
Pinot Noir has been around since the Romans’ times (about 2,000 years old) - about 1,000 years older than Cabernet Sauvignon (which was invented in the 17th century as a crossing between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc)!
2. Pinot Noir Popularity in the USA
Pinot Noir wine sales increased by about 16% after the release of the 2004 movie Sideways. It starred Paul Giamatti, who played a devoted Pinot Noir lover (and a Merlot hater), and he praised the wine throughout the movie.
3. An Annual Pinot Noir Celebration in the US
Every year an International Pinot Noir Celebration is held in Oregon, USA. This tradition started some 30 years ago and attracts Pinot Noir producers and wine lovers from all over the world.
Now it’s time to see the best Pinot Noir wine brands you can buy (for drinking, gifting, and investing) in 2021!
The Best Pinot Noir Wines to Buy in 2021
1. Domaine Leroy Musigny Grand Cru 2015
A traditional red wine from Burgundy that will take your breath away! This Pinot is smooth and dry with an elegant finesse of fruit flavors, coconut, and allspice.
Price of Domaine Leroy Musigny Grand Cru 2015: $70,710
2. Domaine Leroy Chambertin Grand Cru 2013
This great Pinot Noir has balanced acidity and a complex array of flavors. You’ll notice dark cherry and raspberry tasting notes combined with leather and mineral undertones.
Price of Domaine Leroy Chambertin Grand Cru 2013: $14,629
3. Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Romanee-Conti Grand Cru 2016
A great Bourgogne Pinot Noir that has an elegant yet intense aroma of red cherry, currant, and earthy undertones. Its creamy texture and high acidity make it the perfect wine for any special occasion.
Price of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Romanee-Conti Grand Cru 2016: $21,005
4. Domaine Georges & Christophe Roumier Musigny Grand Cru 2015
This wine is an elegant combination of red berry, strawberry, and dark cherries flavor. This Grand Cru is one of the most expensive Pinot Noir red wines available today.
Price of Domaine Georges & Christophe Roumier Musigny Grand Cru 2015: $21,174
5. Henri Jayer Echezeaux Grand Cru 1999
This is a well-aged Pinot Noir with 13% alcohol content and a rich earthy aroma, and forest floor undertones. It combines bold raspberry and dark fruit tasting notes with slight leather and mushroom undertones.
Price of Henri Jayer Echezeaux Grand Cru 1999: $8,125
6. Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair La Romanee Grand Cru 2015
This Pinot Noir is a superb Grand Cru with a floral character of violet and rose petals aromas. On the palate, it has a rich black fruit flavor with a long-lasting earthy finish.
Price of Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair La Romanee Grand Cru 2015: $7,140
7. Domaine Leroy Richebourg Grand Cru 2009
This beautiful red wine comes from the famous Leroy winery. It is ripe and elegant with distinguished black fruit, oak, and chocolate flavors.
Price of Domaine Leroy Richebourg Grand Cru 2009: $8,156
8. Leroy Domaine d'Auvenay Les Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru 2014
Here’s a Pinot Noir that’s the perfect combination of finesse and flavor. The dominant flavors are of ripening black cherry combined with hints of smoke and vanilla.
Price of Leroy Domaine d'Auvenay Les Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru 2014: $6,957
9. Leroy Domaine d'Auvenay Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru 2013
This wine will first strike you with bold flavors of leather and minerals, which will transition to softer and more elegant raspberry, vanilla, and butter tasting notes.
Price of Leroy Domaine d'Auvenay Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru 2013: $7,815
10. Domaine Leroy Romanee-Saint-Vivant Grand Cru 2015
This is a very aromatic red wine that’s dry and acidic but at the same time very light and smooth. The dominant flavors are raspberry, strawberry, black cherry, and truffles.
Price of Domaine Leroy Romanee-Saint-Vivant Grand Cru 2015: $9,042
11. Domaine Armand Rousseau Pere et Fils Chambertin Grand Cru 2018
This outstanding Pinot Noir combines flavors of strawberry, cherry, and chocolate subtle flavors. Every sip is a delicious celebration of complex tasting notes and a smooth, silky texture.
Price of Domaine Armand Rousseau Pere et Fils Chambertin Grand Cru 2018: $3,114
Do All Pinot Noir Wines Age Well?
Fermenting the whole grape bunches, which is a common practice for the French Pinot Noir producers, creates beautiful age-worthy wines.
A classic red Burgundy can age beautifully for 15-20 years or more. However, the aging potential of Pinot Noir wines from other countries is lesser - no more than 4-5 years.
Is Pinot Noir a Good Long-Term Investment?
The classic Pinot Noir wines from Burgundy make great investment wines.
Red Burgundy wines are of superior quality and are produced in very small batches. So, when a new vintage is released, the wines are quickly sold. A combination of scarcity, critics’ reviews, and quality keeps their prices high.
Grand Cru Burgundy wines are valued anywhere more than $20,000.
One of the most coveted Pinot Noir is from the Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Romanee-Conti Grand Cru. The 1945 vintage from this Grand Cru was the most expensive bottle of Pinot sold at an auction - it was sold for $558,000.
Now, with so many exquisite Pinot Noirs, you might be wondering where you can get your hands on one of them.
After all, the finest, rarest Pinot Noir bottles are not sold in every wine shop.
Luckily, there’s an easy and fast way to get an authentic bottle of the most delicate Pinot Noir!
Ready to Add a Special Pinot Noir to Your Wine Collection?
Pinot Noir is definitely a wine worthy of your prized collection! Its finesse, rich aromas, and aging potential (especially true for red Burgundies) make it a real gem for any wine lover or wine investor.
However, finding the best Pinot Noir bottles might be challenging, especially if you’re not sure whether they’re authentic and if they’ll be delivered safely to you.
With Vinovest, you can easily buy, store, and sell some marvelous wines - hassle-free!
So, why not sign up on Vinovest and explore your options now?