Noble grapes are a term used to describe the international variety of grapes that are most recognizable for the top quality wine they produce. These varieties have principal growing regions, where they are notable for the expression of the local “terroir”, but can be grown in other areas with success. Knowledge of the characteristics of each noble grape variety helps the taster establish a personal relationship with the individual grape and wine. Knowing how it behaves in the vineyard, helps to determine the potential of a vintage.
The Red Noble Grapes are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. White Noble Grapes are Riesling, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Pinot Noir as noble grapes
While Pinot Noir grows in countless other countries, it reaches its highest peaks of expression in the cool climates and stony soils found in the Burgundy region in France. Pinot noir is also an important grape in Champagne, where it is either used on its own, or as a blending grape with Pinot Meunier and, or, Chardonnay.
Like all the noble grape varieties, Pinot Noir also has its own holiday, International Pinot Noir Day is celebrated every August 18.
Pinot Noir wine is produced in a myriad of styles, depending on the terroir the vines are planted in and the desires of the wine maker. In France, the grape has naturally high acidity levels, which can vary, depending on if the grape is whole cluster vinified, meaning the stems are not removed, or not.
Also, the degree of ripeness will have a lot to do with the style of the wine. The levels of ripeness can vary depending on the ambient temperatures, hours of sunshine, soils, picking dates, micro climates and rootstock.
Pinot Noir is a finicky, less hardy grape than Cabernet Sauvignon. It requires low yields and is subject to numerous issues in the vineyard that can be brought on by wind, cold or hot weather, fungus or rot, due to its thin skin and susceptibility to disease. The grape does best in cool, dry climates with well drained, stony, or chalk infested soils.
In California, Pinot Noir is often a few degrees higher in alcohol than you find in France. The increased alcohol levels producers a fleshier, ripe, darker, more concentrated wine, than you find in its European counterparts.
Pinot Noir, due to its more delicate nature and red berry profile is perfect for many wine and food pairings. Pinot Noir matches well with duck, pork, veal, chicken, squab, tuna, salmon and other meaty fishes.
Pinot Noir is often ap perfect match for Asian cuisine. Depending on the dish, and its seasoning or dipping sauces, Pinot Noir works well with many sushi or Sashimi dishes. Due to its high level of acidity, Pinot Noir stands up to foods and sauces that are higher in acidity. Pinot Noir also pairs well with a myriad of different hard and soft cheeses as well.