It is thought that the birth of Pinot noir sprang from a seldom seen grape that is grown in only a few select areas of France, Gouais Blanc. Pinot noir as a plant is quite complicated and seems to have spread itself to numerous off springs. There are 16 known, unique different types of Pinot noir grapes grown today.
Pinot noir, the grape of Burgundy, takes its name from a combination of the French word for pine,(Pinot), is due to its tight, pine cone shaped, fruit clusters. The word Noir comes from the the grapes natural dark color. While Pinot grows in countless other countries, it reaches its highest peaks of expression in the cool climates of Burgundy. Pinot noir is also an important grape in Champagne, where it is either used on its own, or as a blending grape.
Pinot noir has a long history dating back to the first century when the ancient Romans began enjoying it, due to its popularity in the recently conquered Gaul regions in what later became France. In part, much of the early popularity of Pinot Noir is thanks to its continuing use by the Church and Catholic Monks. It was the wine of chocie for sacraments. If it was good enough for the Church, of course the public came to love it as well.
Pinot noir is a finicky, less hardy grape than Cabernet Sauvignon. It requires low yields and is subject to numerous illness that can be brought on by wind, cold or hot weather, fungus or rot, due to its thin skin and susceptibly to disease. The grape does best in cool, dry climates with well drained, stony, or chalk infested soils.
Pinot noir produces a heavily perfumed wine with scents of earth, spice, cherries, strawberries and raspberries when ripe. It is a light to medium bodied wine, with high acidity that can age well. Burgundy is an expensive wine region. While great wines are produced in Burgundy, many wine collectors state, finding a good Burgundy is a bit of minefield. While the great wines are amazing, as often as not, the bottles they buy and open do not deliver their desired levels of pleasure. They also add, the hunt and failure is part of the fun.
The most famous and expensive of producer of Burgundy is Domaine Romanee Conti, which makes numerous wines including, Romanee Conti and La Tache. The finest producers of Pinot noir in California are located in Sonoma and the Central Coast regions. Pinot noir is successfully grown in several other countries including Australia, Italy, New Zealand, Spain and Switzerland.