Vines & Wines: Pinot Noir

Just hearing the words Pinot Noir stirs up a sense of mystery, excitement and cherished memories for anyone who has had the pleasure of drinking this amazing wine. Although the grape itself is finicky, once it finds a home it can make many different styles and flavors of wine. The flavors Pinot Noir has range from earthy and light to fruit forward and rich, and anywhere in between.

Pinot Noir can be found all over the world from France to the United States and is planted on over 127,000 acres worldwide. It is thought that Pinot Noir is most likely derived from a wild vine in France and its name is derived from the French word for “pine cone (Pinot)” a reference to the shape of the grape clusters.

mystery, excitement and cherished memories…


inot Noir is an early budding grape that loves to grow in well drained, chalky, clay and sandy soils. The type of soil and climate the grape is grown in is what makes its flavors have such unique characteristics.

Pinot Noir has many different names from different parts of the world:

  • France: Noirien, Franc Pineau, Morillon (Morey-St-Denis), Plant Doré (Champagne), Salvagnin (Jura)
  • Italy: Pinot Nero, Pignola
  • Germany: Spätburgunder, Blauburgunder, Blauer Klevner
  • Austria: Klevner
  • Eastern Europe: Nagyburgundi (Hungary), Burgundac Crni (Serbia and Croatia), Rouci (Czech Republic)


Here are a few of my favorite Pinot Noirs:

Abbazia di Novecella from Alto Adige Italy. This Italian Pinot Noir has a light ruby red color with aromas of red currants, light tobacco, potpourri, vanilla, nutmeg and white mushroom. The palate confirms the nose and finishes with soft tannin and fresh acidity. I recommend pairing this wine with roasted game bird, rabbit and tuna. Abbazia di Novecella is actually the home of The order of St. Augustin, the oldest handed-down monastic rule in the western world.

Joseph Drouhin, Gevrey-Chambertin, from Côte de Nuits, Burgundy, France. This French Pinot Noir is ruby red in color with aromas of black cherry, wild blackberry, licorices, nutmeg, leather, mushrooms and damp earth. The palate mimics the nose with balanced tannins and a velvety finish. I recommend serving it with roasted chicken, rabbit, pork and rich cheeses. In 1880, Joseph Drouhin, who was from the Chablis region originally, chose the city of Beaune to found the business that bears his name.

Elouan, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA. This American Pinot Noir is light red in color with aromas of roses, raspberries, strawberries and white mushrooms. The palate reflects the nose and has a soft tannin structure that makes it a perfect food wine. I recommend this wine with Thanksgiving dinner, light cheeses or by itself. Elouan is the new project by Joe Wagner after his sale of Meomi wines.

For some, Pinot Noir is the king of all wines regardless of the style or country of origin. I recommend trying as many examples of Pinot Noir as you can and choosing your favorite! Happy Drinking!