Pinot noir (French: [pino nwaʁ]) is a red wine grape variety of the species Vitis vinifera. The name may also refer to wines created predominantly from Pinot noir grapes. The name is derived from the French words for pine and black; the pine alluding to the grape variety having tightly clustered, pine cone-shaped bunches of fruit.
Pinot noir grapes are grown around the world, mostly in the cooler regions, but the grape is chiefly associated with the Burgundy region of France. Other regions that have gained a reputation for Pinot noir include the Willamette Valley of Oregon, the Carneros, Central Coast and Russian River AVAs (American Viticultural Area) of California, the Elgin and Walker Bay wine regions of South Africa, Tasmania and Yarra Valley in Australia and the Central Otago, Martinborough and Marlborough wine regions of New Zealand. Pinot noir is also a primary variety used in sparkling wine production in Champagne and other wine regions.
It is widely considered to produce some of the finest wines in the world, but is a difficult variety to cultivate and transform into wine. The grape’s tendency to produce tightly packed clusters makes it susceptible to several viticultural hazards involving rot that require diligent canopy management. The thin-skins and low levels of phenolic compounds lends Pinot to producing mostly lightly colored, medium bodied low tannin wines that can often go through dumb phases with uneven and unpredictable aging. When young, wines made from Pinot noir tend to have red fruit aromas of cherries, raspberries and strawberries. As the wines age, Pinots have the potential to develop vegetal and “barnyard” aromas that can contribute to the complexity of the wine.