Did you know Pinot noir is the hardest grapes to grow? National Pinot Noir Day is this Saturday, August 18th and it’s prompted us to explain why some wine lovers make a big deal about Pinot Noir and you should too.
Have you ever heard a winemaker say that it was a “good year” for wine? When growing and producing wine, the terrior (combined environmental factors that affect the crop) becomes a vital factor. This is especially true for the unpredictable Pinot noir grape; for instance if the grape is grown in conditions that are hot, not only will it ripen too fast failing to develop its full flavor but it may rot.
Let's begin with a little background. A red wine grape variety with 16 known types, Pinot noir was born in the Côte d’Or region of Burgundy, France. This is the northernmost area of Europe to produce quality red wines with such growing conditions and is the longest to be studied for quality of wine in relation to the environment. Being noted as one of the most difficult grapes to grow, the Pinot noir grape possesses a rather thin skin that makes it susceptible to infections, disease, and deterioration from a harsh terrior. Light in color yet deep in flavor, quality Pinot noir is often praised for it's ability to harbor complex flavor compositions despite the thinness of the grape’s skin.
Pinot Noir grapes are particularly sensitive to frost, wind, soil types, cropping levels, and pruning techniques. The ideal region for properly growing the grape has a cool and dry climate. The Côte d’Or region, home of the Pinot noir grape, falls along the Saône fault line. Years of weathering in conjunction with the fault line exposed a layer of limestone rock formed millions of years ago. This diversified the layers of soil in varying proportions through the region adding unique characteristics to each vineyards yield. Due to their susceptibility the grapes must ripen before the autumn temperatures and moisture set in, in order to for the grape to develop its full flavor profile and avoid decomposition. As a result of the climate, the vineyards that produce the best crop in this region face the east. This is because the morning sun warms the ground around the vines, retaining the warmth they need throughout the day. These vineyards are also somewhat sheltered from the rain and wind lending to a cooler, dryer climate the grapes require for a successful harvest.
Through all the struggles required with growing and harvesting, it is no wonder why wine drinkers worldwide appreciate an excellent Pinot noir. Next time you grab a bottle, take note of the translucent color, ponder the complexity of flavor profile, and raise a glass to the people who make exceptional wine possible. With National Rum Day and National Pinot Noir Day in the same week we’re celebrating with Pinot noir and rum Sangria! Click here for a delicious recipe we found from Kitchen Confidante!