Pinot Noir (also called Pinot Nero or Blauburgunder) is a red grape variety producing both still red and sparkling white wines. It’s one of the most famous and elegant, yet complex, wines in the world. Its name probably means “little black pine”, because of the shape of its bunch. Its origins are lost in time: in France, especially in Bourgogne, it has been cultivated for at least 2000 years.
Over the centuries, Pinot Noir has experienced many mutations, becoming Pinot Gris and then Pinot Blanc. In comparison with Malvasia Rosa [link], this is the opposite kind of mutation (from black to white).
Although Pinot Noir is a very unpredictable grape, it’s widespread all over the world. Apart from France, it’s grown in Australia, New Zealand, USA and Italy, where it fits more to the climate and terroir of Trentino Alto-Adige, Franciacorta and Oltrepò Pavese. In fact, when used to produce white wines, it becomes the base grape of many traditional method sparklings, like Champagne (together with Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier).
Producing red wines with Pinot Noir is always a challenge for enologists: it’s a delicate, early ripening grape, very sensitive both to climate and soil. An excellent Pinot Noir needs then the right terroir, a good vintage, winemaking skills and techniques.
As a still wine, it’s a light-bodied red wine, reminding of red berries, flowers and spices. It usually has silky tannins and a high acidity.