Pinot Noir Wine - Limited, Desirable, Worth It

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Good things in life are available, but they don’t come to us without effort. This is certainly true of great Pinot Noir grapes and the wonderful wines they produce. This grape has the reputation of being a bit more difficult to grow and nurture than other varieties. However, vintners and wine lovers believe the result justifies the extra effort.

With the correct conditions and proper handling, Pinot Noir comes to the aficionado as a red wine with a unique and pleasing flavor. The roots (literally) of the Pinot Noir grape are with the original red, Burgundy wine grape, which has traveled the world to become the delicious and desirable Pinot Noir. Wine historians believe it was first planted in the region of Gaul by Romans traveling to this area.

While vineyards in France, Germany, Australia, California and a few other locations have been able to produce this grape, production is limited by strict climate requirements. In fact, the grape has only found success outside of France in the last 20 years.

That fact has added a slight premium to Pinot Noir wines, simply because the grapes are not grown in such large quantities. There are currently some $8 to $10 Pinot Noir selections but most wines in this category carry slightly higher prices.

Flavor upon Flavor

Thousands of words have been written about the Pinot Noir grape and the various wines produced over the years. Wine tasters and writers have used such words as “earthy” and “berries” to describe the wine, along with such terms as “wood-like” in the best sense of evoking a taste and feeling of wandering in a lush forest in spring.

In addition to being a delightful variety on its own, Pinot Noir fits well with almost any good food, especially well-prepared beef, pork and even poultry. Because it is seen as being a bit lighter in color and “weight” compared to some other dark-red wines, it is versatile. Try it with spicy sauces as well as lighter, creamier sauces.

Historical Stature

Pinot Noir wines get their name from the French words for “pine” (Pinot) and “black” (Noir). Grapes grow in tight bunches in the cooler regions of the world. This grape has a thinner skin than some other varieties, making it even more susceptible to certain diseases.

But when it is handled well and remains healthy, the Pinot Noir grape is sure to produce a great wine. Its versatility even allows it to be used in some rose’ wines as well. Best served at around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, Pinot Noir wines can be enjoyed right away or may be aged for several years.

What Can I Buy?

Now that we know a bit about the Pinot Noir grape and its history, we may want to sample one of the more recent varietals. As mentioned earlier, there are some acceptable Pinot Noir choices in the $10 range, but the best wines in this category usually cost a bit more than that.

One label that might be worth a taste is Redwood Creek, which produces a suitable Pinot Noir for about $8 to $10 per bottle. Cloudline Pinot Noir 2003 from Willamette Valley (Oregon) is considered a top selection at $18. A to Z has a 2007 Pinot Noir for $20. Louis Jadot 2005 Bourgogne Pinot Noir comes in at $19.

Shea Wine Cellars from Willamette Valley has a $48 selection. If you want to bring something in from France that might be representative of the fine Pinot Noir from the original country, the Louis Latour 1993 from the Burgundy region is $88. (These are presented as price examples only and should not be taken as recommended beyond that.)

If you are a bit uncomfortable choosing one or two wines on your own, you may certainly get some experience and education with one of several Pinot Noir wine clubs.

There is an Oregon club that specializes in this variety, as well as a California monthly membership that will bring you only good-to-great Pinot Noir selections. While some selections offered by these clubs have an $18 to $20 price on their own, most are in the $30 to $50 range. Check with a wine-club staff member to find out what the Pinot Noir club subscription price will be.

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