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Pinot Noir Grapes
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|Mud Creek Ranch|
Pinot Noir grapes are thin skinned when compared to other wine grapes and have a smooth, dark blue-purple exterior hue. Pinot Noir grapes are formed in dense clusters and give off a sweet aroma with a flavor that offers a slight spice with cherry and strawberry-like tones. The flavor of Pinot Noir Grapes will also vary depending upon the composition of the soil where they are grown or the terroir, a characteristic which this grape is celebrated.
Pinot Noir grapes are available in the mid-summer months for a short season.
The Pinot Noir grape, botanically known as Vitis vinifera, is one of the oldest cultivated varieties of grape found in the genus Vitis and the signature grape of the celebrated Burgundy wine region of France. While the delicate nature of the Pinot Noir grape has given it an appropriately earned reputation as difficult to grow most wine grape growers insist they are well worth the effort. Pinot Noir grapes have long been renowned in Europe, but it was not until 2000 that the popularity of the Pinot Noir grape would take hold in the United States and the wine it produced become known there as one of the food-friendliest of all wines.
Pinot Noir grapes offer anthocyanins, resveratrol, carotenoids, tannins, and terpenes.
The Pinot Noir grape is one of the oldest wine grape varietals and today is used almost exclusively in the production of wine. Grapes can be harvested when younger and between 18 and 20 brix to make champagne or sparkling white wine. For red wine, grapes are allowed to mature and sweeten a bit longer on the vine until they reach at least 23.5 brix. Pinot Noir grapes offer a complex flavor sought after by winemakers but are difficult to grow, a characteristic which makes them less ideal for commercial table grape production. Occasionally though in wine growing regions they can be found at local farmers markets when in season. Unlike many wine grapes the skin of Pinot Noir grapes is thin enough to eat as a snacking grape. The grapes can also be used to make a non-alcoholic grape juice or preserved to make jams and jellies. For home storage, keep Pinot Noir grapes dry and refrigerated, for best quality use within a few days.
The Pinot Noir grape put Burgundy, France on the map in terms of its status as a wine region. The wines the grape produced were touted by the powerful Dukes of Burgundy, specifically Roger Dion, as “the finest in the world” and demand for both the grapes and the wine spread throughout Europe. The Pinot Noir grape’s status has stood the test of time, and it has gone on to be the first grape and fruit to have its genome mapped. Mapping revealed that the Pinot Noir grape has around 30,000 genes (more than even the human genome) with over 100 of these genes dedicated to creating flavor. Researchers hope that in the future this knowledge will help them create new, intricately flavored wine grapes.
The origin of the Pinot Noir grape is not a cut and dry one. Mention of a thin-skinned grape thought by some historians to be an early version of Pinot Noir can be found in written works of early Roman authors that date back to the first millennium B.C. The first reference of Pinot Noir grapes specifically is found in civil documents (actes) of the Dukes of Burgundy dating back to the last quarter of the fourteenth century. In these documents, the wine made from Pinot grapes is referred to as Pynos or Pineaus. In recent years genetic testing has established the Pinot Noir grape is a parent variety to gamay, chardonnay, and at least 14 other varieties. Mentions of both chardonnay and gamay can be found in texts that date back to the thirteenth century which means the Pinot grape is at very least as old as French viticulture itself. Today France leads the way in Pinot Noir grape production with the United States coming in a close second. It can also be found growing in some degree of volume in Germany, Italy, Moldova, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Chile, and Argentina.