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Pinot Noir

One of the most finicky yet rewarding grapes to grow ...

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One of the most finicky yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is a labor of love for many. However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. In fact, it is the only red variety permitted in Burgundy. Highly reflective of its terroir, Pinot Noir prefers calcareous soils and a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality and demands a lot of attention in the vineyard and winery. It retains even more glory as an important component of Champagne as well as on its own in France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions. This sensational grape enjoys immense international success, most notably growing in Oregon, California and New Zealand with smaller amounts in Chile, Germany (as Spätburgunder) and Italy (as Pinot Nero).

In the Glass

Pinot Noir is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry and cherry with some heftier styles delving into the red or purple plum and in the other direction, red or orange citrus. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and a lively acidity. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount) it can develop hauntingly alluring characteristics of fresh earth, savory spice, dried fruit and truffles.

Perfect Pairings

Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon and tuna but its mild mannered tannins give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry: chicken, quail and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, Pinot noir has proven it isn’t afraid of beef. California examples work splendidly well with barbecue and Pinot Noir is also vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.

Sommelier Secret

For administrative purposes, the region of Beaujolais is often included in Burgundy. But it is extremely different in terms of topography, soil and climate, and the important red grape here is ultimately Gamay, not Pinot noir. Truth be told, there is a tiny amount of Gamay sprinkled around the outlying parts of Burgundy (mainly in Maconnais) but it isn’t allowed with any great significance and certainly not in any Village or Cru level wines. So "red Burgundy" still necessarily refers to Pinot noir.

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    Patrice Rion Clos des Argillieres Premier Cru Nuits Saint Georges 2011
    Pinot Noir from Nuits-St-Georges, Cote de Nuits, Cote d'Or, Burgundy, France
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    Lucia Vineyards Santa Lucia Highlands Garys' Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011
    Pinot Noir from Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey, Central Coast, California
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    Louis Latour Chateau Corton Grancey Grand Cru (1.5L Magnum) 2011
    Pinot Noir from Aloxe-Corton, Cote de Beaune, Cote d'Or, Burgundy, France
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    Kosta Browne Koplen Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011
    Pinot Noir from Russian River, Sonoma County, California
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    Goldeneye Ten Degrees Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2011
    Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley, Mendocino, California
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    Louis Latour Beaune Clos du Roi 2011
    Pinot Noir from Beaune, Cote de Beaune, Cote d'Or, Burgundy, France
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    Domaine Tollot-Beaut Beaune Premier Cru Clos du Roi 2011
    Pinot Noir from Beaune, Cote de Beaune, Cote d'Or, Burgundy, France
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    Domaine Faiveley Gevrey Chambertin La Combe Aux Moines Premier Cru 2011
    Pinot Noir from Gevrey-Chambertin, Cote de Nuits, Cote d'Or, Burgundy, France
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    Jacques Prieur Beaune Greves Premier Cru 2011
    Pinot Noir from Cote de Beaune, Cote d'Or, Burgundy, France
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    Aurelien Verdet Morey-St-Denis En la Rue de Vergy 2011
    Pinot Noir from Morey-St-Denis, Cote de Nuits, Cote d'Or, Burgundy, France
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    Patz & Hall Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2011
    Pinot Noir from Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California
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    Lachini Vineyards Grape Republic Pinot Noir 2011
    Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley, Oregon
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    Aurelien Verdet Nuits-St-Georges Les Damodes Premier Cru 2011
    Pinot Noir from Nuits-St-Georges, Cote de Nuits, Cote d'Or, Burgundy, France
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    Kosta Browne Rosella's Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011
    Pinot Noir from Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey, Central Coast, California
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    Domaine Faiveley Pommard Rugiens Premier Cru 2011
    Pinot Noir from Pommard, Cote de Beaune, Cote d'Or, Burgundy, France
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    Kosta Browne Garys' Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011
    Pinot Noir from Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey, Central Coast, California
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    Robert Stemmler Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011
    Pinot Noir from Carneros, California
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    Amisfield Pinot Noir 2011
    Pinot Noir from Central Otago, New Zealand
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    Saint Clair Family Estate Pinot Noir 2011
    Pinot Noir from Marlborough, New Zealand
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    Rusack Sta. Rita Hills Reserve Pinot Noir 2011
    Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
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    Kosta Browne Keefer Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011
    Pinot Noir from Russian River, Sonoma County, California
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    Aurelien Verdet Chambolle Musigny Les Condemennes 2011
    Pinot Noir from Chambolle-Musigny, Cote de Nuits, Cote d'Or, Burgundy, France
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    Kosta Browne Gap's Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011
    Pinot Noir from Petaluma Gap, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California
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    Argyle Reserve Pinot Noir 2011
    Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley, Oregon
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    Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2011
    Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley, Mendocino, California
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