Pinot Noir is probably the most frustrating, and at times infuriating, wine grape in the world. However, when successful, it produces some of the most sublime wines known to man. It is a thin-skinned grape, which grows in small, tight bunches, and performs well on well-drained, deepish limestone based subsoils such as those in Burgundy's Côte d'Or.
Pinot Noir is more susceptible than other varieties to over cropping - concentration and varietal character disappear rapidly if yields are excessive and yields as little as 25hl/ha are the norm for some climats of the Côte d`Or.
Because of the thinness of the skins, Pinot Noir wines are lighter in colour, body and tannins. The best Pinots have grip, complexity and an intensity of fruit seldom found in wine from other grapes. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet, redolent with freshly crushed raspberries, cherries and redcurrants. When mature, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouth feel with the fruit flavours deepening and gamey "sous-bois" nuances emerging.
Pinot is grown in many places, with the best still found in Burgundy. It's key role in Champagne is important, and it is grown with great success in the Carneros and Russian River Valleys of California, in Martinborough and Central Otago in New Zealand, and in the regions surrounding Melbourne here in Australia.