Thursday, May 14, 2009
It seems that in the past five years, there has been sort
of a consumer rage, or should I say, new American attitude
towards both Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio, and I find it
amusing every time I hear "I like a good Pinot"
coming from someone's mouth.
The first thing I am wondering is what type of Pinot they
are talking about. If the answer is red, then the next
thing I am wondering is whether or not they are going to now
talk about the releases coming out of Oregon and Washington
For the record, there are four types of Pinot grape:
Pinot Noir (Nero), Pinot Gris (Grigio), Pinot Blanc
(Bianco), and Pinot Meunier. While Pinot Noir is mainly
associated with the Burgundy region of France, it's possible
that it actually traces it's roots back to ancient Greece.
This is considered the ancestor of them all, and the
derivation Pinot comes from the combination of 'pine' and
'black' due to the darkness of the grapes and the fact that
their bunches resemble a pine cone in the way that they grow.
Pinot Meunier is considered a chimera hybrid, with
two sets of actual DNA in it, one of which is Pinot Noir.
Considered it an X-grape (get it, a mutant link in the X-men).
Another child and mutation of Pinot Noir is the Pinot
Gris (gray) and from that the Pinot Bianco (white).
These both have DNA identical to Pinot Noir.
There are two other major Pinots, Pinot moure and
Pinot teinturier, which I have yet to taste. Another newer
variant is Pinot Gouges (Musigny). Wrotham Pinot is an
English variant, and besides ripening earlier by a factor of
two weeks, it has a nigher natural sugar content.
Because of Pinot Noir's ability to mutate quite
easily, it has a large number of varieties , such as Gamay
Beaujolais. South African Pinotage is a cross between
Pinot Noir and the Cinsaut grape, which is also known as
Hermitage. It's crossings with many other species of
grape have yielded products such as Chardonnay (remember
this one, because it is important), Melon, and Gamay Noir.
It's impact on sparkling wines
All Champagne (sparkling wines produced in the traditional
method of secondary fermentation in the bottle and within
the French region of Champagne) can only be made of three
grapes, and must have Chardonnay in it, with possibly
one exception. Those three grapes are Pinot Noir, Pinot
Meunier and Chardonnay, which is essentially Pinot Noir and
it's children. Blanc di Blancs are made primarily from the
Chardonnay grape [and any combination of the other two],
while Blanc di Noirs are made from Pinot Noir [with maybe a
little Chardonnay or Pinot Meunier added]. Most of the
sparkling wines that you will ever have a Chardonnay base
and even Franciacorta (what would be considered the Italian
version of Champagne, not to be confused with Asti or
Prosecco) just uses Pinot Bianco instead of Pinot Meunier.
It's impact on the wine world in general
While Pinot Noir is grown over the world, its variants and
children/crosses have been very prevalent worldwide,
especially with the two grapes of Chardonnay and Airen,
which are probably grown more than any other grape in the
world. It is widely used in Sancerre and Alsace, as well as
traditionally in Burgundy.
If we were to trace all of the wines made from Pinot
Noir and its descendants and what not, we'd be simply amazed
at how far it's reach encompasses.
The typical taste(s) of Pinot Noir can be that of
strawberry, cherry and raspberry, but can also be
reminiscent of green leafy vegetables. It usually is
lighter as a red wine, but with a different taste altogether
than the other “traditional” reds.
Those other two [widely-known Pinots], Pinot Gris and
Pinot Gris (Grigio): I tend to not place a
lot of interest in Pinot Gris wines because most of them are
akin to drinking a Coors Light; sure, it's a wine, but it's
mostly like water. However, I have had a couple of very good
ones from Oregon, Washington and New Zealand; the latter
being a Kim Crawford release with over 13% alcohol and nice
melon taste. The lighter, more delicate, ones are great for
non-drinkers or just opening up the palate for the next
wine, but the more robust ones can stand on their own.
Pinot Blanc (Bianco):
This is usually dry, but in places such as Austria and
Germany, they can also make it sweet. It can be used also
in Vin Santo, a wonderful Italian wine which means the wine
of angels. As mentioned earlier, it is also used in the
production of Franciacorta.
That said, I think that we can all safely assume that
we know very little about Pinot before reading this, and we
also have a lot to learn about Pinot Noir and its many
descendants after this. Of course, much of this will be
filled with great tasting experiences. You can also
grill someone the next time they say that they like Pinot.
Send to friend