Pinot Noir.
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Pinot Noir is often described as being a "difficult" grape, to grow, to deal with in the winery, and to find truly great examples of, but fans are passionate about this variety, as sensually expressed by the dialogue between Miles and Maya in the 2004 movie “Sideways”.

Pinot Noir is one of the oldest grape varieties to be cultivated for the purpose of making wine. The reputation that gets pinot noir so much attention, however, is owed to the wines of Burgundy, France. For most of wine history, this two-mile-wide, thirty-mile-long stretch of hills, called the Côte d'Or, is the only region to achieve consistent success from the pinot noir vine.

The quality of Bourgogne is due to a number of factors. Its vineyards slope gently down toward the East, providing the vines with long sun exposure yet avoiding afternoon heat. The soil there is very calcareous (chalky; containing calcium carbonate), offering good drainage. Well-drained soils have a higher average temperature, which assists ripening. Pinot noir seems to reflect more pronounced Gout de Terroir, or flavor of the soil, than other black grape types, making vineyard site selection a critical factor.

Difficulties plague pinot noir at every step, from propagation to even its bottle-aging characteristics. Genetically unstable, the parent vine may produce offspring that bear fruit that is nothing like the parent's in the size and shape of the berry or cluster and will frequently even have different aromas, flavors, and levels of productivity. There are 46 recognized clones (genetic variants) of Pinot Noir in Dijon, France. Ampelographers estimate there are as many as 200 to possibly 1,000 clones of pinot noir worldwide. By comparison, cabernet sauvignon has only twelve identifiable clones.

Nearly every affliction known to affect vines is common among pinot noir vineyards. Although quite tolerant of cold climates, it is particularly susceptible to Spring frosts, because it is one of the earliest-leafing varieties. Pinot Noir is also one of the more difficult wines to ferment. Partly due to the presence of 18 amino acids, which are naturally balanced in this variety, Pinot Noir ferments violently, often "boiling" up and out of its container, speeding the process out of control. Color retention is a major problem for the thin-skinned berries. Pinot is very prone to acetification and often loses the sometimes promising aromas and flavors it seems to display through fermentation and aging, as soon as it is bottled.

There is one component in which Pinot Noir seems naturally quite rich, three to four times higher compared to other varieties, especially when it is grown in cooler and more humid climates: resveratrol. While this may not affect the aspects of sensory enjoyment, it may draw the attention of health-conscious consumers.


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