Pinot Noir Red Wine Pinot Noir is one of the oldest grape varieties to be cultivated for the purpose of making wine. Ancient Romans were producing wine with it as early as the first century AD. Pinot Noir is recognized worldwide as a great wine grape and originally gets that reputation from the Red Wines of Burgundy, whose wines are based mostly on this variety of grape.
Difficulties plague the Pinot Noir grape at every step of production from propagation to the barell ageing process. Since it is genetically unstable, the parent vine may produce offspring that bear fruit nothing like it in size or shape of the berry, or cluster and will frequently even have different aromas, flavors, and levels of productivity. There are possibly 200 clones of the Pinot Noir grape worldwide and almost every disease known to affect vines is common among pinot noir vineyards. Even though it is quite tolerant of cold climates, it is particularly susceptible to Spring frosts, being one of the earliest grape varieties to get leaves. One particular problem is the sharpshooter leafhopper who finds pinot noir a perfect host for its young. This bug is known to carry Pierce's Disease, which often destroys an entire vineyard in a few years. Leaf-roll virus can be found in almost all pinot noir vineyards that are over ten years old. The pinot vines are not very vigorous and often lack adequate leaf cover to protect the fruit from birds, who reak havoc on ripe berries. Even if the grapes survive the birds, if not picked promptly at just the right time, the thin-skinned and tender berries shrivel and dry out rapidly, resulting in a raisiny aroma and neutral flavor.
Pinot Noir is also one of the more difficult wines to ferment. Partly due to the presence of 18 amino acids, which are naturally balanced in this variety. Pinot Noir ferments violently, often "boiling" up and out of its container, speeding the process out of control. Since Pinot-Noir is such a thin skinned Red Wine grape variety, it is sometimes difficult to achieve good coloring. Also, Pinot Noir is very prone to turning into vinegar and often loses the sometimes promising aromas and flavors it seems to display through fermentation and aging, as soon as it is bottled.
There is an image that seems to persists that California Pinot Noir is a fruity and light wine of no consequence, but California vintners have been improving site and clonal selections over the past twenty years along with grape growing methods, and wine production techniques to increase their record of success. The regions for the production of California Pinot Noir are Santa Barbara County, Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino County and Monterey County.
Great Pinot Noir can create a lasting impression on the palate and memory. Its aroma is often one of the most complex of all varietals and can be intense with a ripe-grape or black cherry aroma, frequently accented by a pronounced spiciness on the tongue that suggests sassafras, cinnamon or mint, ripe tomato, mushroom, and sometimes even barnyard aromas can come in to play as well. Pinot Noir Red Wine is rich and full bodied but not heavy and usually high in alcohol, ranging from 13% to 14.5%. With all these complexities it is neither acidic nor tannic and has substantial flavor despite its delicacy. The most appealing quality of Pinot Noir may be its soft, velvety texture. When right, it is like liquid silk, gently caressing the palate. Pinot does not have the longevity in the bottle of the darker red wines and tends to reach its peak at five to eight years past the vintage.