Feb 12, 2019
Pinot Noir: My Love Affair

Pinot Noir is one of the great grapes of the world. It's incredibly expressive of the terroir, has the ability to age, and can be made in a wide range of styles... allowing winemakers to really play and articulate their abilities. It's difficult to grow, but the rewards are more than worth it. 

Pinot Noir is grown all over the world, but a few regions are truly known for it. These include especially Burgundy, France and Oregon. 


Burgundy is the O.G. in the Pinot Noir world. Here it is typically herbaceous and light in style, with earthy aromas and a nose full of mushrooms and wet leaves. There are floral aromas, like violets and roses, with some mild fruit smells that tend towards cherry. Often you'll also find notes of black tea.

Oregon's main wine grape is Pinot Noir and actually accounts for over 60% of their wine grape harvest for the state. Due to the microclimates in the state's growing areas and the winemaker's tendency to try new things, their wines tend to have a larger range in style. I've had everything from dark, muscly Pinot Noir to a more fruit-forward ripe Pinot, to a refined Burgundian-esque version... and everything in between! It's not uncommon for wine makers to create single-vineyard Pinot Noirs that truly express the unique microclimates and soil types that are present in small areas, thus producing a full spectrum of Pinot Noirs. Perhaps the most famous for this is Ken Wright. I'm also incredibly fond of the husband-wife duo who craft Boedeck Cellars; in addition to producing single-vineyard Pinot Noirs, they also each craft their own bottle in their personally preferred styles. 

California is a large state with a vast range of climates. Depending on where you are, different styles are prevalent. Perhaps what first comes to mind are Napa Pinot Noirs, which tend to be fruit-forward and full of big, lush flavors such as ripe cherry, black raspberry, vanilla, cloves, and caramel. 

South America is an up-and-comer to Pinot Noir and is growing it in areas with heavy ocean influence in the coastal mountain ranges. These wines tend to be affordably priced and lean more towards floral aromas and flavors.  

While not particularly known for their Pinot Noir (it doesn't grow well in their climate, except in a few areas in the Western part of the country and near Mornington Peninsula), there still is a small volume that comes from Australia. You can expect it to tend to be sweeter and fruitier, leaning towards blueberries and blackberries. 

New Zealand
Central Otago is the main source of New Zealand's Pinot Noir. Due to its location, it gets enough sunshine to fully ripen the grapes and produce a rich Pinot Noir similar in style to California. It tends to have fresh fruit flavors and some gamey notes. 

Germany's France-bordering region "Ahr" tends to produce a majority of the country's Pinot Noir. It tends to be earthy with plenty of cherry and sweet raspberry. 


Pinot Noir is an incredibly food-friendly wine, but also makes for the perfect after-work glass on its own. It's light enough to be served with fish such as Salmon, but can also stand up to heartier red-meat based dishes as well. Personally, I'd pair it with a pasta (especially something with a cream-based mushroom sauce, which would bring out those earthy flavors) or some sort of pizza (especially a white pizza; the high acidity will cut through the cream and cheese and bring out any herbs you seasoned the pizza with). 


Overall, I just love Pinot Noir. It's a common thread in the wine industry, but it's a well-deserved trope. It's a really interesting grape that puts vineyards and winemakers to the test while showcasing a lot about where and how the grapes were grown and the wine was produced. I'd love to hear what your favorite Pinot Noirs are! 


Napa Cellars - Napa, CA - $24

Ironstone Vineyards - Lodi, CA - $14

Boedecker Cellars - Stewart Pinot Noir - Oregon - $42

Ken Wright Cellars - Savoya Vineyard - Oregon - $59