Pinot Noir

On Tuesday, K and I went to a Pinot Noir tasting at our local wine shop. They paired it with some heavy hors d'oeuvres. It was very interesting to do a wine tasting for a single varietal, as opposed to others I've been to that had various types of wines. More on the wine tasting later, but first I wanted to provide a little background on Pinot Noir.

I found this fun post on Wine Folly (a favorite website of mine) that has interesting facts about the Pinot Noir grape, and below is an awesome profile they've pulled together.

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Image found on

And here are some more facts compiled from various resources:

  • Pale in color, translucent, and subtle in flavor
  • Pinot Noir is a weak grape that is difficult to grow as it is easily subject to mildew and rot
  • Often considered the most sought after grape because as they say... "when it's good, it's REALLY good." Red Burgundy is the classic choice as Burgundy, France, is the Pinot grape's homeland. However, other areas to note are the Willamette Valley in Oregon, the Russian River Valley in California, and New Zealand.
  • While Pinot Noir grapes are rarely blended with other varietals, it is a key component to champagne!

I used to tell K that I didn't like Pinot Noir. In fact, on our first date, he ordered a bottle of Pinot since I was running late and I had to seriously consider if I was making a mistake. In all seriousness, I just never had GOOD Pinot Noirs. While I have found a couple of bottles below $20 that I enjoy, I think this is one of the varietals that require a slightly heftier investment to get the flavor profiles I enjoy. The wines we tasted ranged from $27 a bottle to $81 a bottle and the vintages were from 2011-2014. The host mentioned that 2012 and 2013 were good vintages for California and 2012 and 2014 were good vintages for Willamette Valley. The host also threw around the idea of a "feminine" Pinot Noir vs a "masculine" Pinot Noir, where feminine had more bright red fruit flavors (think strawberry and red cherry) and cherry cola while masculine had more darker red fruit (think raspberry and dark cherry) and oak to it. I found that while I actually enjoyed some of the lighter, feminine Pinot Noirs, I definitely preferred what he described as "masculine". 

My favorite wine of the night was the 2012 Del Dotto Piazza Pinot Noir from Sonoma Coast. It was a more "masculine" taste profile with the vanilla spice. We both really enjoyed it and are looking forward to adding a couple bottles to our "cellar"!