Of all of the many wines and grape varieties in the world, Pinot Noir has managed to stand resolute, withstanding the test of time and remaining one of the most popular in the world. It is commonly used in all sorts of wines, while also being extremely popular, especially in international territories, as a standalone wine.
Of course, this makes it one of the more interesting grape varieties around, so we thought we would delve a little deeper and uncover a few of the interesting facts about this most enduring of grape varieties, for those who perhaps want to find out a little more.
It’s One Of The Oldest Grapes In The World
We weren’t kidding when we said that Pinot Noir is one of the most enduring grapes in the entire world. It has been around since before the Roman times, yet it is much more populous than the likes of Timorasso and Gouais Blanc, both of which come from the same era but have not withstood the test of time as well. Perhaps most interestingly, the Pinot Noir grape is believed to be around a thousand years older than Cabernet Sauvignon, another popular grape that has endured for many years.
The Heartbreak Grape
Despite its popularity, Pinot Noir is not the easiest grape to cultivate. It is very thin-skinned, which makes it liable to get damaged in the vineyard. A picker who is not as careful as they should be may even damage the grape to the point where it cannot be used for wine at all. It is also difficult to ripen, requiring specific conditions and high standards of care. It is for this reason that it has been given the moniker of the “heartbreak grape,” no doubt in reference to the feeling the winemakers experience when something goes wrong, as is quite common amongst those who are not experienced with Pinot Noir.
It Has Other Names
While Pinot Noir is one of the more popular monikers given to the grape, and many of the wines that are made using it, it is not the only name it has. It is also known as Pinot Blanc and Pinot Grigio. There is no need for confusion here, as every name means the exact same thing, so you don’t need to worry about getting different grape varieties if you can only find a Pinot Grigio when you are looking for a Pinot Noir. The only difference is a colour mutation between the three. The actual DNA of each grape, and thus their characteristics, are exactly the same.
Film Can Influence Sales
If you need any evidence of how intrinsically linked wine is with the arts, you need only to look at the effect that film had on the sales of Pinot Noir. After Mile Raymond, who is a character in the famous wine film Sideways, talked about how much he loved Pinot Noir, the sales of wines using the grape increased by around 16%. This is a remarkable figure and shows just how important exposure and kind words are in the wine industry.
Italy It Not The Top Producer
While Pinot Noir is a popular grape in Italy, with many producers making use of it in a variety of ways, the country is not even in the top three when it comes to production of the grape. France stands as the top producer, with the United States, particularly the Napa Valley region, coming in a very close second. While you may have thought that the third spot would belong to Italy, that honour actually belongs to Germany. Interestingly, the grape is known as Spätburgunder in that country, which we think is rather catchy.
It’s One Of Few Red Grape Varieties In Burgundy
To further demonstrate just how popular this grape is with the French, it stands as one of very few red grape varieties that are allowed in Burgundy. In fact, if you see Burgundy on a bottle and the bottle itself is red, you are likely about to experience a wine that has been made using Pinot Noir. This will offer you something a little different from other wines from the region, so you should jump at the chance, if only to find out how French wines differ when it comes to their usage of the grape.
The Grape Is Related To Chardonnay
Remember that Gouais Blanc grape that we mentioned earlier. It is practically extinct in its natural form, but it has made a major contribution to the modern winemaking industry because of its use in the creation of the Chardonnay grape variety. Many people don’t know that Chardonnay is actually a natural crossing of this grape and Pinot Noir, which means that Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are related. As such, if you find a region that grows high volumes of Pinot Noir, you are likely going to find a few acres of Chardonnay not too far away.
It Has An Annual Celebration
Given that the United States is one of the top producers of Pinot Noir in the world, it should come as no surprise that the country plays host to an annual celebration of the grape. The International Pinot Noir Celebration is held in Oregon every year, attracting more than 300 producers from all over the world. It has been going for around 30 years and has welcomed more than 14,000 guests during the course of its history.
The Name Is French in Origin
With France being one of the other top producers of the grape, it is only natural that the country will have played a large part in naming it. The name Pinot Noir comes from the French words for pine and black, which means that grape’s name can be literally translated to black pine. The black part should be self-explanatory, as the grapes have a very dark colouring, but people may be confused as to where the pine portion comes from. If you ever have the chance to see a bunch of Pinot Noir grapes on the vine you will see the explanation for yourself. Those bunches look like pines, hence the name.