Pinot Noir (PEE-noh nwahr)
Pinot Noir is a finicky grape. It only grows in
the right climate, with the right soils and the right care. Perhaps because
it is so difficult is why it is so loved. Pinot Noir hails from Burgundy, a region known for crafting the most collectible and sought-after wines from this varietal.
Not only does Pinot reign in Burgundy, it is also essential in Champagne, where it is one of the
three main grapes in creating sparkling wine. Pinot Noir mutates
easily and so there are many different clones floating around in different wine regions.
Other than Burgundy, Pinot has been successful in areas like
and lately, New
Zealand - the Central
Otago region to be exact. Burgundian Pinot Noir typically offers flavors and aromas
of red fruit, summer pudding and baking spices. As the wine matures - and great
Burgundies are able to do so for years - the flavors become more like the earth
the wine comes from- mushrooms, truffles - and the wine gains tremendous complexity.
Pinot Noir from the new world like Oregon and California typically exude stronger
fruit intensity. Some are able to reach a high level of complexity, structure
and age. Others are wonderful for drinking now with a myriad of foods. Many
may wax poetic about this grape, the reason being that Pinot Noir produces an
amazing contradiction in wine - something so delicate and subtle, yet powerful
Learn More About Oregon
Like many other states, Oregon itself is an AVA of note. An Oregon wine can simply state "Oregon" as its place of origin, which typically means the grapes came from multiple smaller AVAs within the state.
Beyond the main AVAs of Oregon, like Willamette Valley, Rogue and Umpqua, smaller regions are gaining ground. Some you may see on the label include:
Walla Walla Valley AVA
– these are most often associated with Washington State, but technically they run over the state lines into Oregon. Most wineries only use a small fraction of grapes from the Oregon side in order to maintain a Washington State wine, but you may see some Oregon producers sourcing grapes from those small overlapping AVAs.
Southern Oregon AVA
– encompassing the Rogue and Umpqua Valleys, this AVA is a large area where many producers are experimenting with Syrah.