Originating in the Burgundy region of France, Pinot Noir wine is considered by some to be the best red wine in the world. The origins of the vine are obscure, and while it is possible that it originates with Roman occupation of France in the 1st Century AD, it is just as likely that it represents a French domestication of a wild bush vine. Pinot Noir is one of the wines used to create traditional French champagne, but it is also a stand-alone wine which has many fans across the globe. It has been in South Africa for many years, and was one of the two vines crossed to produce Pinotage, the country’s unique wine.
There is an enormous demand for Pinot Noir wine, both in the South African domestic market, and in the overseas markets. It is in some ways considered to be a very romantic and delicious wine that reduces wine experts to tears, but it is unpopular amongst growers due to its reputation as a very difficult cultivar. In fact, one grower observed that Pinot Noir was made by the Devil, and its sensitivity to wind, frost and cold make many growers agree. Despite this, wine makers tend to enjoy battling the wine, and its very sensitivity means that it picks up any differences in the soil, passing these on to the drinker.
Due to the nature of these differences, there is a great deal of variety in the tastes and aromas of different Pinot Noir wines. The average wine tends to have a medium body, with a deep aroma of fruits and currants. The freshly made wine will often be a deep orangy-red, rather similar to Garnet, a distinctive colour compared to similar red wines. In South Africa, the wine tends to be rather earthy, although this can depend upon the region in which it was grown, as well as the wine-making process.
There are a number of different varieties of the Pinot Noir vine, with the Pinot Gris being perhaps the best known. This genetic mutation produces different coloured grapes, and the wine inside can be yellow, orange or even pink. Pinot Meunier is also connected to the production of champagne, and is considered to be another genetic mutant from the Pinot Noir. Most wine drinkers do not realise that these two types of wine are available, or how related they are to Pinot Noir.
There are several different wine estates now producing single-varietal Pinot Noir wines, including the Haute Cabriere, made from 100 percent Pinot Noir grapes. These grapes are crushed and then matured in oak barrels for 9 months. The 2006 version has a number of cherries, raspberry and other fruit aromas, along with plenty of tannins and a pleasing quantity of acids which just tickle the palate during the aftertaste. This wine is still comparatively young for a Pinot Noir, and drinkers can expect it to mature for another 5-7 years before it will reach the full flavour of its potential.