To many wine takers, Pinot Noir remains a favorite. It is still one of those delicate and versatile wines that go with literally any kind of food, offering a diverse taste to the palate. Born first in Burgundy in France, Pinot Noir vines are now largely cultivated in California and other regions like New Zealand, the Willamette Valley in Oregon, Chile, Germany (where it is known as Spätburgunder), and Australia, where they are produced in a smaller scale. Ironically, wines from these other regions are said to be even more flavorful and aromatic than those originating from France.
The taste, texture, weight, color and aromatic content of Pinot Noir are largely dictated by its place of origin, the climatic conditions of the region and the aging period of the wines. These factors, in turn, dictate the pricing and market availability of the wines. Pinot Noir wines differ in taste by region. Those from France are light, earthy-flavored and herbaceous whereas those from Germany are smoky-flavored (obtained from oak barrels in which they are aged). The California-based Pinots, on the other hand, are rich in berry and vanilla flavors while those from Oregon are a little bit acidic but with berry flavors as well.
Australian Pinot Noirs are fruity and sweeter and those from New Zealand, exhibiting spicy aromas. Pinot Noir can also be tasted in Champagne and many Sparkling wines as it is among the few permitted grape varieties that contribute to body and flavor.
Most Pinot Noir wines often exhibit earthy, ripe blackberry, strawberry, raspberry flavors combined with sweet cherries. They are known to be light to medium-bodied; neither too dry nor too sweet and their alcohol content is on the light spectrum. Their acidity consistently falls between the medium-high spectrum. They are low in tannin (the sharp and drying characteristic often tasted at the front of the tongue/mouth) and can be enjoyed on their own or paired with foods like traditional and ethnic dishes.
Pinot Noir vines are known to be hard to grow as they are prone to sunburns, early budding and susceptibility to frost. For this reason, at times, when the weather is unfavorable, a season goes by without a harvest. So, it’s not always that the wine makes it to the cellar and when it does, it is in smaller quantities when compared to other wines. This, however, does not mean that these wines can’t be found or afforded. In fact, there are plenty of highly-rated Pinot Noir wines that you can buy for any budget.
The Bonterra Pinot Noir 2012
This delicious red variety we made from organic grapes of the Mendocino region of California. On the palate, it exhibits a rich vanilla and cherry aroma. This Pinot Noir is versatile in its food pairing and can be paired with cheesy and grilled foods.
The Verum Patagonia Pinot Noir 2018
Produced in the Alto Valle del Rio Negro, Verum Patagonia is your-to-go Pinot that is well balanced and rich in floral aromatic notes.
The Underwood Pinot Noir (in a four-pack)
Popular in the Oregon region, this unique and complex silky, subtly bitter and herbaceous Pinot Noir is such an obsession to many. Because of its structure, it is easily paired with food varieties and for the sole reason of its packaging (in cans) is preferred by many as it is easy to carry about. It is also pocket-friendly.
The Greenwood Ridge Vineyards Mendocino Ridge Estate Pinot Noir 2006
A very aromatic, spicy and supple red Pinot Noir for any occasion.
The Cline Family Cellars Sonoma County Pinot Noir 2018
This heavily structured and balanced Pinot Noir has defined vanilla notes and floral aromas. Try pairing this when having a barbeque or grill session with friends and family for a good time together. It is such a perfect pair with grilled foods.
The Pencarrow Martinborough Pinot Noir 2006
A product of New Zealand, Pencarrow is one of the respected red Pinot Noir wines of the Martinborough region. It has a strong, unique and irresistible grapey complexity.
The Pinot Project California Pinot Noir 2018
Produced in California, this unique Pinot exhibits fruity tastes and aromas and is aged in French oak barrels.
The Gary Farrell Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2011
From California, this delicious vintage and velvety wine are known for its rich fruity aromas and a balanced acidity taste.
The Cameron Hughes Willamette Valley Lot 678 Pinot Noir 2017
Well known in America, this Pino Noir has a perfect balance of acidity and texture.
The Amisfield Central Otago Pinot Noir 2006
From the Amisfield vineyards in Otago, New Zealand, this unique red Pinot is fermented with native yeasts that give the end product a genuine crispy and complex structure full of floral aromas.
The Cono Sur Chile “Bicicleta” Pinot Noir Reserva 2018
From Chile, “Bicideta” is a well-structured Pinot Noir with remarkable spicy notes.
The Toulouse Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2006
From the Anderson Valley in California and producing Toulouse Anderson Valley Pinot Noir is a family-owned winery of Vern Boltz, a fireman who dedicated his piece of land to vine growing and now supplies California with great classic wines.
The Kris Pinot Nero 2006
It is crispy, rich, spicy and classy.
The King Estate Signature Collection Pinot Noir 2012
Produced in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, King estate is a such an adored wine variety. It has a unique herbaceous-cherry taste that explodes in your mouth the moment you take your first sip.
The Stoller Dundee Hills Pinot Noir 2012
This varietal is a product of all grapes in the vine estate. It has a mixed taste of berries, plums, cherries and a chocolatey note that persists to the end of the bottle sip.
The Holdredge Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2006
Named after its producing father John Holdredge, this red Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley is an aromatic, silky, and fruity wine with ripe cherry notes.
The Bread & Butter Pinot Noir 2016
What makes this particular one unique is the bursty-black cherry taste that is experienced on the first sip.
The Ponzi Vineyards Tavola Pinot Noir 2006
Produced from a privately-owned estate and winery in Willamette Valley, Oregon, Tavola Pinot is a sweet red wine that has existed for ages and is loved by the locals in the region.
The Kim Crawford New Zealand Pinot Noir 2018
From New Zealand, Kim Crawford is a celebrated wine in this side of the globe that is known for its bubbly berry flavors and minerality.
The Henschke Giles Lenswood Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005
From Lenswood vine estate in Australia, this classic, spicy and complex Pinot Noir is among the highly-priced wines in the region.
The Emeritus Hallberg Ranch Pinot Noir 2011
Produced in the Russian Valley in Samona, California, Emeritus Hallberg Ranch offers a great combination with foods because of its balanced acidity and sweet ripe berry taste.
La Follette Manchester Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012
This Californian wine is one of the most interesting Pinot Noir varietals that seasonally appears in the market. What dictates its market availability is the weather that is at times too harsh for the vines to thrive. In such seasons, the vine-growers together with the winemakers are forced to wait for an entire season to produce this prestigious wine.
This classic bottle is medium in body, well-structured, herbaceous and a distinct earthy taste.
The Lechthaler Trentino Pinot Nero 2005
This Italian based Pinot Noir varietal is rich in graceful-cherry taste with a light body and this can be perfectly enjoyed even on its own.
The Clos LaChance Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir 2006
Made from selected high-quality grapes of the Santa Cruz Mountains’ Vineyards by Stephen Tebb (a renowned winemaker in the region), Clos LaChance is such a great blend rich in rosemary and cherry notes that can be enjoyed freely or paired with food for a great time with family.
Mt. Difficulty Roaring Meg Pinot Noir 2006
Named after a local mountain in central Otago, New Zealand, this Pinot varietal has a crispy note and amazing fruity aromas that will leave you asking for more.
The Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir 2006
From the Yarra Valley in Australia, Innocent Bystander is one of the esteemed bottles in the region that will afford you a Pinot Noir satisfaction without necessarily throwing you financially off-balance.
The Fowles Wine Australia Farm to Table Pinot Noir 2018
Featuring strong berry flavors and vanilla taste, this Australian based Pinot Noir is definitely one of the most enjoyed wines in the region.
The Sticks Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2005
Deriving its name from a retired Australian footballer Rob Dolan (Sticks was his nickname), this rich berry-flavored red wine is a great pick in the Australian wine industry. Rob Dolan started supplying wines after his football career and since this wine from Yarra Valley has such unique and addictive earthy notes, it had to be remembered.
Other celebrated and pocket-friendly Pinot Noirs that can be readily secured and should certainly be tried out include;
- The Hayman & Hill Santa Lucia Highlands Reserve Selection Pinot Noir 2006
- J. Lohr Monterey County Falcon’s Perch Pinot Noir 2018
- Domaine Faiveley Mercurey Clos des Myglands Premier Cru 2011
- Erath Oregon Pinot Noir 2017
- Château de Sancerre Rouge 2005
- Viñedos Emiliana Chile Natura Pinot Noir 2018
- Olema Sonoma County Pinot Noir 2018
- Talley Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir 2005
- Casa Marín Lo Abarca Hills Pinot Noir 2004 (Chile Based)
- Buena Vista North Coast Pinot Noir 2016
- Taupenot-Merme Gevrey-Chambertin 2005
- Woodenhead Humboldt County Pinot Noir 2006
- William Hill Estate Winery Central Coast Pinot Noir 2016
- Beck Burgenland Pinot Noir 2005
- Joseph Drouhin Bourgogne Lafôret Pinot Noir 2018
Now that we know the origin of a wine dictates the quality and overall pricing of Pinot Noir wines or any wine for that matter in the market, it is important to research and understand the qualities and characteristics you wish to have in your bottle of wine. Some Pinot Noirs are bolder, spicier, tastier than others, and their pricing differs. Some tend to be pricier than others, but the beauty is that whatever budget range you may have, there is a good Pinot Noir, be it for a social occasion, drinking or just for relaxation purposes.
Selecting a perfect bottle for the perfect occasion can be tasking but many wine dealers and distributors often try to give descriptions of the taste, alcohol content and even the origin of each bottle they present to the counter or online for you to have an easy time doing so.
While it is important to know and select the right bottle of Pinot Noir, it is equally important to make a good glass selection for the same so as to complement the aromas that the wine exhibits. Wine enthusiasts will tell you that the right glass works just as right as a good bottle and going low on one greatly compromises on your wine experience altogether. A huge round bell-shaped wine glass is your best friend with Pinot Noir. You won’t regret at all.
Burgundy still remains the best producer of Pinot Noir wines in the world. Flavors from this region are versatile and desirable and most sommeliers admit to this. Other than the ripe cherries and berry tastes, Burgundy Pinot Noirs are said to possess an earthy or forest floor smell that can be equaled or compared to fallen damp leaves. This, however, doesn’t dismiss the fact that some notable rich, fruitier and aromatic Pinot Noirs can be produced from other regions. If anything, wines from other regions have been rated richer and fruitier.
Depending on the region, Pinot Noir can be found under different names in the market. You can find it as Bourguignon as it is called in France, Pignola or Pinot Nero in Italy, Spätburgunder in Germany, Nagyburgundi, Klevner, Blauburgunder, Savagnin Noir, Bourgogne, Côte de Nuits, and Modri Pinot. Regardless, it is one of the more popular wines out there, and the flavors it comes with are a vindication of its sheer quality.