Pinot Noir is a unique red wine grape produced all over the world, and yet consistently rising in prices. It is exceptionally difficult to grow and, for that reason, is much more difficult to come across. This article will help you find the best Pinot Noir wine in the local stores, and make the most out of this brilliant wine.
What’s so special about Pinot Noir?
There are several specific characteristics to this Red Burgundy classic. First of all, Pinot Noir is a thinner-skinned grape, which makes it more sensitive to temperature and overall climate, as well as more susceptible to various diseases. In order to be kept healthy, the vine has to be cropped continuously, which is also a time-consuming process.
Pinot Noir grows best in colder climates but is easily affected by humidity and wind. Burgundy region in France with its mild and cool climate is home to the grape. The limestone soil in the region is considered one of the best for Pinot-Noir-growing, adding to the acidity and minerality of the wine. Other areas where the production of Pinot Noir wines has developed over the years include the United States, especially Oregon and California, Argentina, Europe, and South Africa.
With these factors taken into account, we can see that growing Pinot Noir is much more difficult than any other red grape. Indeed, the amount of the vineyards allotted to growing Pinot Noir are 2.5 times less than those for growing Cabernet Sauvignon – another popular sort of red wine grape.
When it comes to texture and taste, Pinot Noir is on the lighter end of red wines with alcohol content ranging between 12 and 14 percent. For this reason, its composition is clear and almost transparent, unlike some of the heavier wines, such as Merlot, Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon. Pinot Noir’s taste is, nevertheless, quite elegant: this dry wine with silky texture combines the fruity notes, especially the flavours of red fruit and berries, with earthy spices, like truffle, leather and aromas of the forest floor.
How to choose a pinot noir?
Having mentioned the vastly dispersed production of Pinot Noir in the world, we offer several tips and tricks that will help you pick the best available Pinot Noir on the shelves of your local supermarket. The key factor is typically the region, as its climate will most likely define the quality of the grape. The most famous regions in which Pinot Noir is produced is its homeland, Burgundy, as well as the states of California and Oregon in America.
The region would be one of the most important factors when it comes to choosing a good Pinot Noir. Burgundy, France is indeed the most famous region in which the wine is produced, and some of the best examples come from there. France provides one of the most robust earthy flavours in Pinot Noir, due to the predominance of the limestone soil in the region. Burgundy producer classification is complex and is separated into small individual vineyards and larger manufacturers – all of which may time some time to get familiar with.
Burgundy wines are traditionally higher in prices, with the best producers, such as Domaine de la Romanée-Conti charging between $3,000-$15,000 a bottle, or Domaine Armand Rousseau Père et Fils with an average price of $1500. Of course, there is a wide range of more affordable Burgundy reds, which you can discover by going beyond the most popular regions and trying out the village-based producers and less famous names within the Côte d’Or region.
Nevertheless, the Burgundy’s Pinot Noir production is extremely inconsistent due to the constantly changing climate. If you are not sure about the best years of production in the region, the safer bet would be purchasing the wine from one of the US manufacturers.
Oregon and California
These two states are among the best Pinot Noir producers in the world. Pinot Noir made in California is usually more on a fruity side, with sweeter notes, such as raspberry, vanilla or caramel. The Oregon-produced wines are typically lighter than Californian and have more acidity to them with flavours like cranberry and truffle.
The best California producers of Pinot Noir are Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast, and Santa Maria Valley, and Oregon’s best manufacturers are located in the Willamette Valley and Red Hills area.
Top 10 Brands of Pinot Noir 2022
Here are the top 10 picks of affordable Pinot Noir wines you might want to check out:
Merry Edwards 2009 Klopp Ranch Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley), $66
This classic Klopp sort is bursting with flavours of cherry and raspberry, with a subtle bitter hint of French oak and dark chocolate.
Lynmar 2015 Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley), $49
Full-bodied and flavourful, this wine offers the notes of red fruit complemented with earthy spices.
La Follette 2015 Pinot Noir, $34
Produced on Sonoma Coast of California, this is an elegant wine infused with aromas of dark berries and cardamom.
Pali 2016 Huntington Pinot Noir, $25
The first one on the list under $30, this is a great-quality wine with tart flavours of plum skin and a warm bouquet of winter spice.
Davies 2015 Pinot Noir, $51
The medium-bodied wine with notes of black cherry, cranberry and plum, combined with floral aromas.
St Innocent Winery 2014 Zenith Vineyard Pinot Noir, $38
A brilliant wine from the Zenith vineyard is a perfect match for a barbeque with a range of fruity and smoky notes.
Moorooduc 2015 McIntyre Pinot Noir, $66
This wine has the fabulous warm scents of cinnamon, dried fruit and earth – a perfect combination to keep warm in the winter.
Et Fille 2014 Heredity Pinot Noir, $45
Matured in the wood barrels, this is an elegant and balanced wine with fruity notes of raspberry, plums and a touch of rose petals.
Tyee Wine Cellars 2014 Estate Pinot Noir, $28
This one is made with a combination of various grapes gathered from all the around the vineyard and is full of refreshing notes of hibiscus, roses and red berries.
Benovia, 2010 Pinot Noir, $20
Produced in the Russian River Valley, this wine is juicy and bright, with the notes of red berries.
What food goes with Pinot Noir?
You finally chose your Pinot Noir bottle, what’s next? We have several suggestions on the best food to combine it with. These dishes will bring out the wine’s best qualities and enhance your experience.
Pinot Noir, being a light-bodied red wine, allows a great variety of successful food pairings. If you prefer a traditional wine-cheese pairing, Pinot Noir will go perfectly with milder, nutty cheeses, such as Gruyere. Alternatively, it can be a perfect addition to softer flavourful cheeses, like brie and camembert.
If you plan on opening a bottle of Pinot Noir over dinner, try matching the wine with lighter foods, like fish or Italian food – pasta and risotto. Lighter Pinot Noir goes exceptionally well with all the above, while the more aged sorts of the wine will complement meats like lamb, duck or venison.
Finally, Pinot Noir is recommended to be slightly cooler than the room temperature before serving. To achieve the appropriate temperature, leave a room-temperature wine in the fridge for 2 hours, or in a freezer for 15 minutes. Enjoy!