Pinot Noir - What's the Big Deal?As far as red wines go, there are few that have as many deeply obsessive fans and followers as Pinot Noir. We’re happy to admit that we’re a well-established member of this deeply devoted group and just love inviting newcomers along for the ride. Like many things in life, it’s impossible to enjoy Pinot Noir to its fullest until you truly understand its standout qualities. The world is full of generic wines thrown together for the lowest possible price and with no sense of tradition to speak of - Pinot Noir is an example to the absolute contrary.

You really don’t have to be a wine buff to appreciate why Pinot Noir is such a big deal – it’s all about digesting a few simple facts that put the whole subject into perspective. You can easily buy wine online in the UK cheaply enough these days – even Pinot Noir – from an online wine delivery service where quality comes assured.

So in the hope of winning over a few more sceptics from various sides of the fence, here’s our short and simple introduction to Pinot Noir and a few reasons as to why is really is a big deal:


Pinot Noir is Old…REALLY Old

If you thought that the history of Cabernet Sauvignon dated back pretty far, try this on for size; Pinot Noir predates Cabernet Sauvignon by more than 1,000 years. That’s a full thousand years, meaning Pinot Noir is one of the world’s oldest grapes and was doing the rounds in a big way at the same time as the Roman Empire. Most of the other grapes with a history as long as Pinot Noir are either extremely rare or extinct by now, so it’s pretty clear right off the bat that you’re drinking something somewhat on the special side.


If You Like Pinot Noir, You’ll Love Pinot Blanc and Pinot Grigio!

How can we tell you for sure a couple of different wines you’re guaranteed to like? Simple really – it’s come to light that Pinot Blanc and Pinot Grigio grapes are in fact the exact same grapes as Pinot Noir, only with a slight variation in colour having mutated over the centuries. That’s according to a group of well-respected wine writers, who studied each variety of grape right down to its DNA, at which point they made the startling discovery that they are identical! Which in turn means that if you consider yourself something of a dedicated Pinot Noir fanatic, the time may have come to branch out to Pinot Grigio and Pinot Blanc – you’ll love them both!


Pinot Noir from Germany is Among the World’s Best…And it’s Called Spätburgunder 

France is of course the most important producer of Pinot Noir in the world today and America comes in at an unsurprising second-place. Few know however that Germany takes the bronze-medal in terms of annual Pinot Noir production, though some would argue that the German variety is superior to all-comers in terms of flavour. Interestingly though, the Pinot Noir made in Germany is usually known as Spätburgunder, so if you’ve ever struggled to find it on a restaurant’s menu card in Munich, that’s probably why!


Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are Never Far Apart

Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are related – the latter is the culmination of natural combining of the Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc grape varieties. As such, the two grape types need near identical conditions to reach their eventual glory and that’s exactly why when and where you find Pinot Noir being grown, it’s safe to say you won’t be too far away from Chardonnay too!


Tales of Tannins

Exactly how much tannin is present depends on the exact type of Pinot Noir you pick up, but certain Pinot Noir wines can have very high tannin levels. This happens in batches where the winemakers have used not only the grapes, but the whole bunch including all sticks and stems – the whole job lot gets chucked into the fermenter. This is known as Whole Cluster Fermentation and doesn’t tend to happen with many wines at all these days, other than Pinot Noir. The result is a much higher tanning level that delivery a drying sensation to the front of the mouth when tasted. What’s more, the elevated tannin level then makes the wine more suitable for long-term storage – Whole Cluster Fermentation is usually reserved for wines that will then be cellared for at least a decade before being opened!


It’s a Tricky Soul

Next time you pick up a bottle of Pinot Noir for next to nothing, you might want to remember that it remains one of the most difficult grape varieties in the world to grow successfully and is notoriously prone to going horribly wrong. Even the slightest abnormality in weather conditions can affect the final outcome of the winemaking process in a huge way.


Pinot Noir Means Pine Black

And finally, Pinot Noir translates as ‘Pine Black’ and is so named because the bunches of grapes on the vine represent pine cones in shape…just in case you’d ever wondered.