Joel Fleishchman, Wine Master of Vanity Fair magazine, described Pinot Noir as “the most romantic wine, as voluptuous as a perfume, so sweet and sharp and, so shocking and powerful that, like love, it makes the warm blood flow and the wax of the soul in a poetic way“. The sommelier Madeline Triffon defined it as “sex in a glass”.
A little history
Man domesticated Vitis sylvestris during the Middle Ages, removing wild vines from the woods and introducing them to the vineyards. The origin of Pinot Noir is not clear. There are historical records of Vitis sylvestris vinified by man in Burgundy in the 14th century. Pinot Noir, which has hermaphroditic flowers, may have developed from Vitis sylvestris marked by phylloxera . Pinot Noir may have been the first member of the Pinot family.
The French region of Côte-d’Or is the origin of Pinot Noir. In the Middle Ages, the nobility and clergy of northeastern France produced Pinot Noir in the best places, while peasants cultivated a more productive grape, the Gouais Blanc. These grape hybrids may have been produced by human action, although there are also a variety of hybrid relatives. Among the results of a cross between Pinot and Gouais are: Chardonnay, Aligoté, Auxerrois Blanc, Gamay and others. Pinot Noir is not necessarily involved in these crosses. Any member of the Pinot lineage could have participated.
Pinot Noir belongs to the grape variety, Vitis vinífera. Pinot (pineapple) and noir (black) are the French words that gave rise to the name. Pinot Noir from France is used in cold areas, especially in Central Europe, although it is more popular in Burgundy. Other areas where excellent Pinot Noir has been produced are the Willamette Valley in Oregon, Carneros and Russian River in California, the Yarra Valley in Australia and the regions of Central Otago, Martinborough and Marlborough in New Zealand and Casablanca in Chile.
Pinot Noir is also used for the production of sparkling wines in Champagne and other wine regions.
There are hundreds of different clones of Pinot Noir cultivated all over the world, and crosses between varieties are especially likely to occur thanks to the long history of their cultivation. Pinot Noir can be very fond of crossing over (ability to mix genes with other species and/or varieties)
In France, more than 50 have been officially recognized, compared to the 25 known clones of Cabernet Sauvignon, which has many more hectares.
The Gamay Beajulais (pinot droit, ‘straight in French’) is a clone, created by the University of Davis in California, that grows straight. It is widely established in California, but it is also present in New Zealand.
In the Pinot family, maturity can vary by about four to six weeks between the earliest and the latest maturation. Frühburgunder (Pinot Noir Précoce) is an early maturing Pinot Noir. During the first quarter of the 20th century, Pinot was crossed in South Africa with Cinsault (known there as Hermitage) to give rise to the variety called Pinotage.
We will continue to upload interesting things from this beloved and complicated strain… pay attention to our posts.